Alfa Romeo: 2015 Giulietta Distinctive TCT QV Line review

Alfa Romeo: 2015 Giulietta Distinctive TCT QV Line review

The Giulietta name was first seen on an Alfa Romeo in 1954 which is also the year that Elvis Presley began his recording career. Owning an Alfa Romeo is a good talking point, but the purpose of this review is a little less conversation, a little more action, and more action is definitely what’s been provided in the 2015 model, especially if you get the Quadrifoglio Verde model with the 1.75-litre engine out of the beautiful 4C coupe.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta QVLine 2015 front interiorWe’ve got the Giulietta Distinction with the 1.4-litre turbocharged engine and the QV Line pack which adds tinted windows, sports suspension, sports pedals, QV scuff plates, QV dash panel, red brake callipers, flat-bottomed steering wheel, 18-inch wheels and some extra body kit.

An update was due for the Giulietta after almost five years on the market in NZ. The new Alfa Romeo Giulietta QVLine 2015 instrumentationversion doesn’t mess with the exterior styling too much (other than the QV Line additions), but does improve what was a quite dated cabin, and adds a dual-clutch 6-speed TCT gearbox with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel sending the power from the 125kW/250Nm engine to the front wheels.

Around the town the Giulietta is well-behaved. Alfa Romeo Giulietta QVLine 2015 dashboardThere are three modes to choose from and ‘normal’ is the best around town as in dynamic mode the accelerator is too responsive and makes it difficult to drive smoothly.

When the engine is cold the TCT gearbox is jerky in dynamic mode but this disappears after a few minutes. Take it for a blast through some twisting back roads and you’ll appreciate the programming of this mode as it brings the Giulietta to life. The handling feels more like an older hot hatch as it scrabbles for grip out of corners if you are clumsy with the throttle.

Alfa’s design language is polarising. I really like the Giulietta from the back and side (and I especially like the blade-style 18-inch wheels with the red brake callipers showing), but the Alfa Romeo Giulietta QVLine 2015 frontheadlights have never been my favourite, seeming a little too far apart from that historically evocative triangular grille.

From the side you don’t notice the rear door handles, deftly hidden in the C pillar. These C pillars are enormous and that means that reversing is almost completely reliant on some red LCD graphics that look like they’re from the 1983 movie WarGames. There’s no Alfa Romeo Giulietta QVLine 2015 rear quarterreversing camera, despite there being a 6.5-inch touchscreen that displays Fiat’s UConnect entertainment system.

The nav system is, to be honest, a nightmare, and I couldn’t figure out how to change the units from imperial to metric. It’s also ridiculously and stupidly polite telling you to Alfa Romeo Giulietta QVLine 2015 flank badge‘please’ turn in 1000 feet. I prefer the more Germanic sat nav implementations with their more efficient instructions. The main problem, though, is that you need to know the suburb of the street you are going to and, because everyone in Auckland who lives in Meadowbank says they live in Remuera (and this equivalent happens for any suburb that has a more expensive one next to it), you could be faced with a street for which you can’t find an address.

Other than that, the main UConnect system is very easy to use and comes with Bluetooth phone integration – in fact, the whole interior is quite well-equipped, bar a few hard plastics. You get dual climate control, refrigerated glovebox and heated front seats.

There’s next to no storage – small cup holders, tiny central binnacle and door pockets that are economical in size.

While the front leather seats are comfortable my rear seat passenger complained that he was uncomfortable on a journey from north of Auckland down to the airport. There’s not a huge amount of legroom in the rear.

All the necessary safety features are present, including a 5-star ANCAP crash test rating, stability control, daytime LED running lights, ABS, electronic differential, rain-sensing wiper and tyre pressure monitor.

There’s automatic stop/start at the lights to help save fuel. Alfa Romeo gives a combined fuel economy figure of 7 litres per 100km. I can’t say that I tried to drive it economically, mostly preferring to keep it in dynamic mode and have some fun, so my figures were in the high 9s.

So, is the Giulietta always on my mind, or do I want to return to sender? The original Giulietta was arguably the car that propelled Alfa Romeo into a mainstream profitable concern, but Elvis isn’t singing “How Great Thou Art” about this new Giulietta because “That’s All Right” is far more fitting.

The Giulietta’s strongest point is its styling, but it feels outclassed in a number of areas (mainly the ergonomics and quality of the interior), despite the upgrade. However, for many people, Alfa Romeo is a bit like Elvis. Elvis had his flaws, but people still love him. The Giulietta is strong enough, with a vivid enough heritage that its shortcomings will be accepted as part of the character.

Price: $44,990

Pros

  • Distinctive styling
  • Vast improvement of the cabin

Cons

  • No rear camera + huge rear pillars
  • Jerky gearshifts when the engine is cold


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