Alfa has built some truly memorable cars. Equally they have built more than a few that have fallen way short of the mark. One enduring strength has been the ability to produce fantastically characterful and advanced engines, but fuel economy wasn't part of the brief. So given the enigmatic history, is the Giulietta a winner or best forgotten?
It seems fitting to start with the engine. Bristling with cutting-edge technology it combines Alfa's ingenious direct injection MultiAir system with turbocharging to produce 170 bhp from just 1.4 litres. The engine is also very flexible thanks to an equally impressive 184 lb.ft of torque at 2,500 rpm. This gives the Giulietta excellent performance and fuel economy.
To maximise the efficiency you need to specify the TCT gearbox. This is Alfa's double clutch automatic 'box. In 'Normal' mode it changes up super-early to save fuel, but comes alive in 'Dynamic' mode. You can also change gear yourself with steering wheel mounted paddles. The dry clutch system excels in the official fuel economy tests, but can feel dim-witted in 'Normal' mode.
The Guilietta is the best-made Alfa in years. Faint praise this might be, but the material quality is now a match for the class standard. It looks and feels reassuringly solid, whilst an excellent Euro NCAP crash test performance shows that this is more than skin deep. At the same time Alfa has managed to keep the design flair and Italian feel that plays to the heart.
The Giulietta looks great and has a premium feel that Alfa has struggled to produce in the past. It has a brilliant engine which in combination with the TCT gearbox delivers strong performance and fuel economy. It is good rather than excellent to drive and the gearbox won't suit everyone, but this is an Alfa that you can buy with your head as well as your heart and that makes it a tantalising proposition.