and it’s from a brand with pedigree, but does the 1.4 petrol engine with the new TCT gearbox deliver the 54.3mpg fuel economy that’s promised?
The Alfa Romeo brand generates passion in people, however Alfa has never sold large quantities of cars in the UK. The company has also never had much of a presence on Green Car Guide over the last six years as it has focused on the sporty end of the market rather than having a range of class-leading low emission cars . By combining a 1.4-litre petrol engine with the ALFA TCT transmission the aim is to offer a car that features Alfa brand values along with impressive economy.
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta has to be one of the best looking cars in its class. It’s sporty and curvaceous, and has simple uncluttered lines – something that seems to be becoming something of a rarity, especially in the small family cars category. The interior is a pleasant enough place to be, with an element of individual design, but it’s not quite a match for the exterior. However it’s not as spacious as many rivals in the rear and in the boot.
engine combines Alfa’s direct injection MultiAir system with turbocharging to produce 170 bhp from just 1.4 litres. It’s also very flexible thanks to an equally impressive 184 lb.ft. of torque at 2,500 rpm. On paper this gives the Giulietta excellent performance and good fuel economy. To maximise the efficiency you need to specify TCT, Alfa’s double-clutch automatic ‘box.
The Giulietta’s 1.4-litre engine has impressive performance and it makes a great noise under acceleration . In this model it’s mated with Alfa’s dry clutch auto ‘box. That might not be the ideal combination for Alfa’s traditional audience, who may prefer the idea of a manual ‘box for a driver’s car. However the TCT transmission generally works well. The car comes with Alfa’s ‘DNA’ system which has three drive settings which adjust throttle and steering responses. If left i n ‘N’ or Normal mode, when it seems to excel in the official fuel economy tests, it can feel slow to respond and it changes up early to save fuel
. The car comes alive in ‘D’ or Dynamic mode, which is much more responsive. You can also change gear yourself with steering wheel-mounted paddles and if pressing on you’ll want to use these to shift manually. ‘A’ stands for All-weather and this setting aims to set the car up to give as much grip as possible on ice or snow .
The Giulietta’s steering feels sharp and the car has a relatively firm ride, which doesn’t absorb potholes particularly well. This is what you’d expect from a car with sporting pretentions and it gives the Alfa a different character, one with more dynamic reactions, to the average small family hatchback. However as the Alfa is front-wheel drive ultimately it will always understeer on the limit, which may not be the preferred choice of keen drivers, but apart from the BMW 1 Series, there’s not much choice if you want rear-wheel drive in the small family cars segment.
The official figures for the Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4 TB MultiAir 170 bhp ALFA TCT – yes the name is a bit of a mouthful – are 54.3mpg and 121g/km emissions (121g/km strangely being 1g/km over the 120g/km CO2 band limit). However we didn’t get close to that in real life driving. Our overall average for our week with the car was 28.9mpg – just over half of the official mpg figure. This result was after real-world driving. Yes, when we were very careful, we achieved a better figure – 45mpg – but even this is still somewhat short of the official 54.3mpg. The powertrain is obviously designed to do well in the official NEDC test cycle, but most people are bound to drive it more progressively in real life and are therefore unlikely to come close to the official economy figures.
Giuliettas come with petrol or diesel engines, all of which are turbocharged. In addition to the 1.4-litre petrol with 170bhp as tested, there’s a lower powered 118bhp version. There’s also a 231bhp 1.7-litre unit. In terms of diesels, there’s a 1.6-litre and two 2.0-litres.
There are four Giulietta trims. Entry-level Turismo cars come with air-conditioning, front and rear electric windows and an engine stop-start system. Lusso spec provides alloy wheels, steering wheel-mounted stereo controls and Bluetooth. Veloce models have sports suspension and sportier trim, while the flagship Cloverleaf has more advanced sports suspension and cosmetic upgrades.
Our test car came with options including the ‘5 hole’ alloys at £620, special ‘Alfa red’ paint at £490, and the steering wheel paddles at £260. In total all options took the price of the car from £23,155 to £26,555.
Alfa hasn’t had a great reputation for reliability in the past but build quality of the Giulietta seems good. The Giulietta has scored well in the Euro NCAP crash tests.
Unlike many cars in this class, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4 TB MultiAir 170 bhp is a car that you’re likely to buy with your heart. It looks great and it has a badge with pedigree. Most other rivals are propositions that will make accountants happy; they may offer low running costs, but they are devoid of character. However the Alfa disappoints in one main area, and that is real-life fuel economy. Based on our test, you can see why most people end up with a diesel-engined car, as such a vehicle will return much higher economy figures in real life use. Yes, you could achieve better miles per gallon from the Alfa if you drove it very carefully, but the reality is that most people won’t buy an Alfa to drive it in such a way. So the Giulietta offers individuality and character in a segment where such traits seem to be increasingly designed out of cars. That’s something we approve of, it’s just a shame that it’s not highly efficient in real-life use, so overall the Alfa Romeo Giulietta gets a Green Car Guide rating of 7 out of 10.