Monday, 24 August 2015

REVIEW - Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde

Without question Alfa Romeo have benefitted enormously from FCA Group ownership. The style remains. More importantly, that passion remains. But thanks to the sensible parent the unreliability is no more. So all of a sudden Alfa Romeo’s are becoming a justifiable choice of car. Take the latest sports car- the undeniably beautiful 4C- as a perfect example of this. But what about a family hatchback? Well there’s the Giulietta which is also rather stylish. Then when I found out that the Quadrifoglio Verde (QV) model I was testing had the same heart as the 4C, I was priapic with excitement.

Looks – 9/10

I have always loved the Giulietta, and getting up-close-and-personal with the QV only reaffirmed this. The Giulietta is curvaceous and sleek. It is a thing of beauty. At the front the bug-eye headlights benefit from LED daytime running lights, and of course there is the triangular grille you would expect from an Alfa. The optional 5-hole 18-inch alloys (£450) are an absolute must because they just suit the car perfectly. What’s more, they are rather similar to those on the 4C. From the side you will notice the clover badge which hints at the beating heart of the QV, whilst the grey mirrors and door handles are a nice touch. Hidden door handles ensure the rear looks clean and crisp. From the back the twin tailpipes are again a subtle nod to the performance aspect. Privacy glass offered a lovely contrast to the special Luna Pearl paint (£510) of my test car.

Inside the stylish features continue. Without question the front seats are the best feature of the cabin. They’re half leather and alcantara, and have the Alfa Romeo badge split between them. Add this to a chunky headrest and it’s a winner. The steering wheel has a slightly flattened bottom, and has a shape resembling the triangular grille. I like the dials but found the central display a bit cheap looking; just a single-colour display. My other complaint from the inside is a lack of contrast. There is lots of black and dark plastics, and very little in the way to break it up. I think this could be overcome easily; the large piece of dashboard could be an aluminium effect and this would transform it. That being said, I particularly liked the pedals; large, metal, and featuring the Alfa Romeo logo.

Handling/Performance – 7/10

The beating heart of the Giulietta QV is the same as it the highly-acclaimed 4C sports car. It’s a 1.75-litre turbocharged petrol motor which churns out a punchy 240PS and 340Nm of torque. This is sent to the front wheels through a delightful 6-speed twin-clutch gearbox. The 0-62mph dash is dealt with in 6.0 seconds and the QV will go on to a top speed of 152mph. The engine is fantastic. There’s a lovely engine note and with the fast changes from the gearbox the speedo climbs and climbs. There’s no fuss, the Giulietta just goes. Mind you, it must be a bit of a porker in comparison with the 4C- which does 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds. There’s a launch mode built into the gearbox which really helps you get going, and yet in 6th gear the engine is quiet and calm on the motorway.

I found the QV rather engaging to drive. The driving position is spot on, and the big chunky steering wheel with paddles behind get you involved. There’s 3 driving modes featured in the Alfa Romeo DNA (Dynamic, Natural, and All-weather) selector. In dynamic, the exhaust note gets louder, the steering gets weightier and throttle response sharpens. It’s good, but in Natural mode the car feels a bit limp. Consequently I spent my entire week with it in Dynamic mode. The truth is that behind the wheel the Giulietta feels bigger and heavier than its sleek body would have you believe. There’s also a tendency to spin the front wheels under cornering load. The suspension is spot on, and allows the car to corner relatively flat.

Economy – 7/10

The benefits of having a smaller engine comes with better economy. Or so goes the theory. CO2 emissions for the QV are 162g/km which puts the car in VED band G. Road tax will cost you £180 in the first year, and the same in future years. Although this may seem like a reasonable cost, I would point out that the 2.0-litre Golf GTi with a DSG box emits just 149g/km, showing that emissions could in fact be lower. Combined fuel consumption is 40.4mpg, and that’s not so bad. However from my week with it I found this to be a little optimistic, and you can expect to achieve something in the early 30’s. Bottom line is that this is still reasonable return for a sports car.

Practicality – 8/10

Being a family hatchback, the Giulietta is a nice car to live with day-to-day. The front passengers get plenty of room, although the large sports seats have reduced the rear legroom. I didn’t fare too badly, but then again I am a measly 5ft 7in. Those much taller than that would probably feel a bit cramped in the back of the QV. The boot is a very generous size and there can be no complaints about that. I also liked how well the TCT gearbox worked around town; it was much easier than driving a manual. There’s also a host of mod-cons, including dual-zone climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, iPod control and a satellite navigation system. If you like your music you can also opt for the BOSE Hi-Fi sound system (£820).

Fun – 9/10

I know it’s incredibly clichéd, but there is something about an Alfa Romeo that tugs at your heart strings. It feels like it has passion and soul, and this resonates in the beating heart that is the 1.75 TBi engine. I know it’s entirely artificial, but I love how a little fuel is put into the exhaust on the up-change, such that it makes a sort of deep “brphh” noise every time. This never got old. I also liked how unassuming the QV looks; it genuinely surprised quite a few people who mistook it for a ‘regular’ Giulietta. This is by no means a perfect car, but it did put a smile on my face, and there was no beating the nods of approval received from other Alfa drivers. I like that a lot.

Concluding Remarks

So that was my week with the Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde. This is a pretty car with a brilliant engine. The lunacy of previous fast Alfa’s (yes 147 GTA, I’m looking at you!) and this means the car is much better to live with. The addition of a TCT gearbox brings a bit more sophistication and allows you to get the most out of the engine, as well as offering an engaging drive. There are faster, cheaper and more fun rivals, but then it’s not often you find a car with such passion and desirability. And it’s certainly more exclusive than a Golf GTi. Prices for the QV start at £28,330 and with a couple of options my test car came in at £30,370. That does seem a little on the pricey side, and the residuals will be less than a Golf GTi as well. For more information visit your local dealer or log on to the Alfa Romeo Website. The Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde; a proper Alfa.

Total Score - 40/50

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