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Alfa Romeo Giulietta (2014 - 2020)

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By Jonathan Crouch

Introductionword count: 121

If you thought that all Focus-sized family hatchbacks built in the 21st century's second decade were much of a muchness, Alfa Romeo's Giulietta is probably going to come as a breath of fresh air. After four years on sale, this car was updated in 2014, at which point it gained an upgraded 2.0-litre diesel engine, greater refinement, cleverer infotainment technology and a slightly smarter feel inside and out. These virtues were added to this Alfa's existing attributes - distinctive styling, a strong range of engines and interior design a world away from the usual blandness - creating a car that might appeal to both head and heart. Here, we check out the 2014-2020-era versions of this model for the used market.

Modelsword count: 10

5dr Hatch (1.4, 1.75 petrol / 1.6 diesel, 2.0 diesel)

Historyword count: 446

So you need a family hatchback - but you don't want a dull one. It's time for something different this time around, something you can attach a bit of pride and passion to. Something like this perhaps, the post-2014-era version of Alfa Romeo's Giulietta. Here's a model - and a brand - with as much heritage as you could want. The Giulietta name, after all, goes all the way back to the pretty two and four-door designs Alfa used to make in the mid-Fifties and was a badge revived in the late Seventies for the 'Nuova Giulietta', a chic sports saloon, before it was once again abandoned in favour of the various modern era family hatches that directly preceded this car. In the Eighties, we had the 33, succeeded in the Nineties by the 145 and 146 models before the turn of the century brought us the 147 range that set the scene for the re-introduction of the Giulietta name in 2010, this time designating a sporting family five-door hatch - the car we look at here. By this time, global passion for the Alfa brand had cooled somewhat, for reasons now well documented: the excellence of the German competition, the slow turnover of models and the Milanese brand's over-dependence on hardware borrowed from parent company Fiat. It was clear that if the company was to survive, then things would have to change, with more competitive, freshly designed products and cutting edge technology. All created without losing the spark that makes an Alfa what it is. Early signs with this Giulietta were good in that regard. True, the constrained times of its development meant a need to share underpinnings and engineware with humbler brands in the Fiat group but that wasn't necessarily a problem. After all, this car uses these mechanicals in its own very individual way thanks to the development of Alfa-specific steering, seating, suspension and brakes. The Milanese maker claimed that the engines were tuned differently too and there were unique looks. So far so good. Sure enough, early sales of this model were certainly encouraging, the appeal of the Alfa brand matched with the efficiency of hi-tech MultiAir petrol and Multijet diesel engines installed beneath the bonnet and optionally mated to a clever dual clutch TCT paddleshift auto gearbox. By 2013 though, things were tailing off as buyers at the premium end of the family hatchback sector began to be tempted away by newer rivals from Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Alfa urgently needed to rejuvenate this car. Hence the 2014 model year update that created the version of this car that sold all the way through to the end of production in 2020.

What You Getword count: 864

Let's be honest. Even in its pricey premium segment, the family hatchback market isn't overly endowed with pretty cars. This one was welcome then, taking the styling cues of its smaller MiTo stablemate and transferring them, rather successfully it has to be said, to a bigger five door-only design. At the front, where as usual on an Alfa, the number plate is jauntily offset to the left, the famous triangular grille is given plenty of space to breathe with the air-intakes cut low and the headlamps, complete with daytime running lights, pushed out to the corners. It's the look we first saw on the 8C Competizione supercar and not one you expect to find on a Focus-sized family hatch. The visual changes made to the post-2014-era revised version were slight: extra chrome on the front grille, revised front fog light bezels, smarter alloy wheels and a wider range of paint colours. But then, this wasn't a design that needed much doing to it and as on the original version of this Giulietta design, there's beautiful detailing almost everywhere you look. Take the lovely LED tail lamp night time signature for example. Or the shapely profile. We don't think we've ever seen a pair of rear doors so artfully disguised, the blade-thin shut lines disappearing into the rear wheel arch line and the door handles hidden in the window frame. Enter in through them and the news that this car is longer than a Volkswagen Golf might lead you to expect more head, leg and knee room than is actually on offer. The narrowing window line and sloping coupe-like roof don't help here and it can be a little dark unless you get a car whose original owner found quite a lot extra for the large electric double sunroof. Still, two adults will be reasonably comfortable and three kids adequately provided for. Lift the rear hatch - the badge neatly doubles as a boot release - and you'll find that this Alfa offers a class-competitive 350-litre cargo bay, though you have to lift your luggage over quite a high lip to get to it. Once there, you'll find that, no, there isn't quite as much space as you'd get in a Golf, an A3, a Civic or a SEAT Leon from this era but the capacity is very comparable to a rival BMW 1 Series and actually a little more than you'd get in a Volvo V40 or a Mercedes A-Class. It's reasonably practical too, with a bag hook, a power socket and a recess where bottles can be stored. If you need more, you can as usual push forward the 60/40 split-folding rear bench (unlike the MiTo, it's was fitted as standard here) to free up an unremarkable 750-litres. And at the wheel? Well, if you owned the original 2010-2013-era version of this car, you'll probably take a seat in this post-2014-era model and struggle to put your finger exactly on why it all feels slightly nicer. So let us help. We mentioned seats: well they were re-designed as part of the 2014 facelift to be more comfortable and enveloping, particularly in terms of upper-body lateral support. The door panels were re-styled too, as was the three-spoke height and reach-adjustable leather-trimmed steering wheel, though this remains a touch too far away for perfect comfort. The sweeping dashboard's was re-designed too, mainly to accommodate a more sophisticated Uconnect multimedia system with a 5-inch colour screen that increases to 6.5-inches in size with models specified with Alfa's satellite navigation set-up. True, some of the fittings don't have that hewn-from-granite feel you'd get in a Golf, but many owners will gladly trade that this car's bolder, more memorable design. Nice to see that there's a proper conventional handbrake too. Of course, as on any Alfa, there are a few niggles: the pedals (which look lovely with aluminium trim) remain rather close together and there's nowhere to rest your clutch foot. Seat back adjustment is awkward when you've got your belt on. There are a few rough plastic finishes - for example, around the steering column shroud and on the lip of the glovebox. You might be struggling to find somewhere to put your mobile 'phone and if you need to plug it in, the relocation of the USB and Aux-in points in front of the gearlever on the facelifted model means that cables can end up trailing backwards where they then can get in the way of the gearshift. And rear visibility isn't great thanks to the small rear window and the thick rear C-pillars, making it important to find a car whose original owner specified the optional parking sensors. But these aren't the things you really remember after an extended spell in this car. What's important is the way it feels such a special place to be, especially when upgraded with sports leather upholstery. Most of the major controls fall easily to hand and you're faced with a gorgeous set of deeply cowled proper red-lit Alfa Romeo sports dials, on their own enough to make your heart beat a little faster. Would you really want to revert back to German functionality after this? No. Thought not.

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Category: Compact Family Cars

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This is an excerpt from our full review.
To access the full content library please contact us on 0330 0020 227 or click here

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