Alfa Romeo Giulietta

2.0 JTDM-2 TCT

Exclusive

Alfa Romeo Giulietta, front
Alfa Romeo Giulietta, rear
Alfa Romeo Giulietta, interior
Alfa Romeo Giulietta, side
Alfa Romeo Giulietta, front
Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sportiva Nav, interior

I COULDN'T be certain whether it was the trademark V-shape grille or just that Alfa Romeo badge catching the eye.

Either way, they stopped, looked, then looked again.

The real surprise though is that the passers-by weren't oogling at a low-slung supercar like the Alfa 4C Spider, but a more mainstream Giulietta hatchback.

It speaks volumes for the aura that still surrounds the Italian brand that people still bracket it with past or present stablemates like Ferrari and Maserati.

The Giulietta is an important model for the marque and one that's benefited from the tweaks rather than wholesale changes of the latest, refreshed, line-up.

Sure,there are new engines and more techno treats but styling is limited to a smarter front grille, upgraded fog light bezels, new alloy wheels and a fresh palette of colours.

Pay a bit more and you can have the sort of classy red leather interior that lends itself so ideally to that race-bred Alfa ethos.

Every engine benefits from improved efficiency and lower emissions, while the tested model's 150bhp 2.0 JTDM-2 unit, which made its debut in the Giulietta, is stronger than the previous 140bhp version and also produces less CO2.

This version, in high spec Exclusive trim, also featured TCT transmission, a dual dry clutch gearbox that combines the benefits of automatic and manual transmission, without any downsides.

Twin clutch technology is nothing new, but where Alfa scores is in achieving improvements, albeit small ones, in fuel economy and acceleration.

Where the system scores is in its operation, in effect using two gearboxes - one for the odd numbered gears and another for the even ones, so the gearbox is ready for the next shift when it's already engaged.

What Alfa fans will appreciate are the fast, smooth responses along with the company's DNA rocker switch offering the choice of Normal, Dynamic or All Weather driving mode, plus the benefit of a fuel-saving Start/Stop system.

And because the transmission works as either all-auto or sequential, the driver can manually shift up or down using the gearlever or flicking the steering wheel paddles.

As a driver's car the Giulietta delivers, it's agile, spirited and planted on the road and offers strong acceleration, though I couldn't match the official 64.2mpg fuel figure.

What you do get though is a chic machine in every sense, with reasonable room for rear passengers provided the driver's seat isn't slid completely back, though the centre rear position is uncomfortable. Boot space is no more than adequate.

FAST FACTS

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0 JTDM-2 TCT Exclusive

Price: £25,630

Mechanical: 150bhp, 1,956cc diesel engine driving front wheels via TCT manual/auto transmission

Max Speed: 136mph

0-62mph: 7.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 64.2

Insurance Group: 1-50

C02 emissions: 116g/km

Bik rating: 19%

Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles

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