By Patrick James on 2016-04-24 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta
CHOOSING an Alfa Romeo in years gone by meant a car with style, elegance and performance.
With its proud racing heritage and premium brand presence, it was the car to be seen in.
Arguably the most stylish cars on the market, the cars oozed desirability, but reliability was not always associated with the marque.
Times have changed. The Giulietta is a stylish car, but it also has substance, the question is, has it lost some if its desirability?
The answer, as ever is that its beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but would appear to be 'no' to judge by the interest when parked up.
The signature Alfa shield grille with offset number plate makes it instantly recognisable, but some of the lines have a more conventional five-door hatchback look.
The bonnet tapers arrow-like down to the front lights which house the all too familiar daytime running LEDs.
It has a pretty attractive rear too, with shapely tail lights and twin exhausts.
A range of frugal engines, including low emission diesels shows the firm is serious about getting a chunk of the business market dominated by the likes of Astra and Golf.
The Business Edition clearly is attacking that market, and it does have plenty to offer especially with emissions ducking below the crucial 100g/km mark.
This means exemption from road tax and low Benefit in Kind taxation.
Not only does it look good, it drives well and is lavishly equipped with a central touch screen housing the sat nav which features with preloaded 3D Maps, Bluetooth, audio sreaming and voice recognition plus USB and SD reader.
Also included are all round electric windows, powered door mirrors, parking sensors, cruise control and DNA drive system.
The chunky rotary controls are well placed and the car has a premium feel with its Competitzione upholstery on well upholstered adjustable seats and substantial soft touch finish.
The interior does not feel the most roomy in its class, particularly in the rear and vision is impaired by thick A pillars. However it is practical enough with a decent sized boot, which in hatchback style increases from 350 to 1,045 litres.
On the road, the refined 120bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine mated to a smooth six-speed gearbox delivers plenty of pace - and economy.
It his 60mph in just under 10 seconds, but has claimed economy of an astonishing 74.3mpg. I managed near the mid-50s mark, but its pretty impressive just the same.
With an Alfa you expect good handling characteristics and it delivers here with agile performance and bags of grip on corners.
It's fun to drive through the ‘DNA' system which allows you to switch driving modes.
Use the toggle switch to choose dynamic (D) natural (N) or all-weather (A), according to conditions.
Natural is the most comfortable, but dynamic is the most fun, where steering, suspension and engine all tighten up. The cost there is the ride can become harsh.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.6JTDM-2 Business Edition
Mechanical: 120bhp, 1,598cc 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels vial 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 120mph
0-62mph: 10 seconds
Combined MPG: 74.3
Insurance Group: 16
C02 emissions: 99g/km
Bik rating: 17%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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