2013 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

2013 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

The Good:
– Unique styling inside and out
– Good high-speed handling
– Fairly compliant ride
The Bad:
– Could be quicker
– Rear cabin space
– Uncommunicative controls

Alfa Romeo has managed to build a mythical reputation over the last several decades, something that few other mass-market manufacturers have managed to replicate. The Fiat-owned carmaker builds slightly upscale sedans and hatchbacks as well as the occasional sports car, but they do it with a kind of flair that makes them stand out as something special. Their latest model in the GCC is the Giulietta, an indirect replacement for the 147 hatchback, and it continues that tradition.

Like most Alfas, the Giulietta offers uniquely attractive styling, certainly more so than pricier luxury-badged competitors from Germany. While all trim levels look the same, our top-spec tester came with the optional 18-inch wheels, which makes the car all the more attractive.

2013 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 7

Inside, the stylish cabin design is rather unconventional, with certain controls placed where no one else places them, and certain gauges that are labelled in Italian on purpose, so you better know that “benzino” is really showing your fuel level! Cabin materials are made up of enough soft-touch trim and firmly-padded areas in all the right places, although hard-plastic areas are also within reach, like the big shiny panel along the dash, as well as all below-the-waist mouldings, the latter being on par for the premium hatchback class. The top model gets a motorised flip-up computer on top of the dash with integrated controls on the centre console, but the base model gets a simpler dealer-installed touchscreen. Several of the buttons are designed like flip-switches, and add to the car’s quirky character.

Space up front is good, with nicely-bolstered seats and enough headroom for most folks. Space in the back isn’t as impressive, with taller people just about managing to fit, with their knees barely clearing the front seatbacks and their heads just a hair away from touching the headliner. Boot space is adequate for a hatchback, made more practical with the split-folding rear bench. Storage spaces inside are limited, but include some small door pockets and even smaller cup-holders, because Europeans generally don’t drink while driving.

There’s almost all the features expected from a semi-premium hatchback, such as keyless entry, HID headlights with front and rear LEDs, smooth leather upholstery, aluminium pedals, decent dual-zone auto a/c with a single rear vent, good CD/MP3 stereo with USB and Bluetooth, navigation, lots of airbags, cruise control, and that pop-up LCD screen on the dash. However, some key features are either missing or outdated, such as the lack of a smart key with starter button, the manually-adjusted front seats, the pixelated graphics on the pop-up screen, and the monochrome LCD display within the gauges.

2013 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 4

The standard motor is a 1.4-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder delivering a not-too-shabby 170 hp at 5500 rpm and 250 Nm of torque at 2500 rpm, mated to a new 6-speed “TCT” dual-clutch automanual transmission. It all looks good on paper, but actual performance is adequate rather than remarkable. The 1380-kg hatchback did a lazy 9 seconds flat on our 0-100 kph run during a late morning in May. There is a distinct lack of low-rev kick, but whether it’s due to turbo lag or simply the small displacement is hard to say. A regular 140 hp VW Golf 1.4TSI posted slightly quicker times in our testing, let alone a 220 hp GTI that costs about the same as the Alfa. It is as economical as the lesser Golf though, posting a 9.8 litres/100 km figure in our time together.

The car is a bit annoying in crawling traffic, due to its odd responses to driver inputs. There’s a horrendous electronic-throttle delay when taking off from idle, so you have to time your entry into junctions. While it’s soft to respond in “normal” mode, the throttle becomes much more sensitive in “sport” mode, to the point where now it’s annoyingly jumpy. It’s a characteristic of several other dual-clutch automatic cars as well, although it’s a bit more pronounced here. The gearbox itself is slightly clunky in its operation, and there’s a slight delay in responses when shifting in “manual” mode.

The Alfa largely redeems itself when you start gunning it on the twisties though. The suspension tuning is tight, with a firm yet comfortably compliant ride, but more importantly, making for almost unnoticeable body roll. There’s more than enough grip from the 225/40 tyres for spirited street-driving. The short-ratio steering lacks feel, but it’s variably-weighted and very sharp. The car’s handling is a proper confidence-booster when jumping into long sweeping corners, although it does understeer on the sharpest turns, even with ESP off, and is generally very hesitant to throw its rear out even when you try to induce it. At least the four-wheel-disc brakes are superb when pounded on.

However, the brake pedal itself feels very light and doesn’t do much if tipped in partially. It prefers a good push to do its job. The road noise is also a bit high, although wind noise is subdued at moderate highway speeds. Rear visibility ain’t that great either, although with proper use of sensors and side-mirrors, it’s not much of an issue.

The Alfa Romeo Giulietta is interesting yet flawed in many ways. But it’s possible to overlook its flaws as quirks that are part-and-parcel of Italian car-ownership. Some of it even seems intentional, as if designed to give the car more character instead of just building yet another humourless hatchback. Alfas have always appealed to a certain kind of buyer, which means it’ll continue to be a niche player here in the GCC, but the Alfisti probably wouldn’t have it any other way.

Price Range:
Dh 115,000-135,000

Current Model Introduced in:
2013

Body Styles:
5-door hatchback

Engines:
1.4L 170 hp Inline-4 turbo / 250 Nm

Transmissions:
6-speed automatic

Setup:
Front-wheel-drive

Suspension:
Front: independent
Rear: independent

Brakes:
Front: discs
Rear: discs

Curb Weight:
1380 kg

Length:
4351 mm

Wheelbase:
2634 mm

Top Speed:
218 kph

Test Acceleration 0-100 kph:
9.0 sec.

Observed Test Fuel Economy:
9.8 litres/100km

13 comments to 2013 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

  • Sunil

    It did bring a plane down! Ha Ha.

  • Kova

    Luxury its question also. manually adjusted steering wheel and big black hall under steering column add zest for owners probably for alfists only. May be for half price somebody will buy it… Ehhha

  • Steve T

    It’s too bad that the author felt such things as keyless entry and electric seats were somehow luxury-defining features. Keyless entry fails so frequently, at all price levels from all manufacturers that no one I know would have it. Among my associates, its inclusion would be a deal-breaker. Electric seats add some 40 pounds, are used once then forgotten, and produce just another unnecessary failure point. Complaining about their absence is somewhat juvenile.
    Unfortunately, these assessments lend the entire review suspect as to what is actually valuable and what is simply ego-stroking in an automobile’s content.

    • Bomb

      If you’re so worried about failing electronics, then stick to a base-model Toyota Yaris. None of the headaches, and just as fun to drive. Not sure what kind of people you hang with, but there is no epidemic of keyless-entry/electric seat failures. Alfa owners have bigger things to worry about. I drove this car and the review is exactly spot-on. When a car costs this much, certain features are expected. Your complaints sounds like that of a juvenile fanboy who probably drives a new base-model Alfa, if lucky, or some 1980s junker.

    • Spintwister

      Steve, What are your “luxury defining” features? What is juvenile about the author commenting on the lack of certain features? As a regular reader, I could say that the strength of drivearabia car review articles is that it is straightforward and is devoid of any bias! So Steve, I have to disagree with you.

  • Steve T

    Currently: 98 Shelby Cobra, 00 Chrysler 300M, 72 Read-Titan Honda 750 Cafe, all owned from new. Turned 64 this year and would be a millionaire if I still had just a couple of cars I’ve had the privilege of owning…some for years, some for 6 months. Point: neither juvenile nor fanboy (sic).

    A $322000 Noble M600 4.4 does not have keyless entry or start. It does not have air bags, alarms, bluetooth, cruise control, electric seats, power steering, sat nav, parking sensors, or air conditioning. It does have leather but no paddle shifters, and ABS, but steel disks. It will both blow the doors off anything we have owned or will ever own, and is undoubtedly more attractive to the opposite sex while doing so. And this is just one example.

    To reiterate: the features the lack of which the review stated rendered the car inferior to its competition are basically bling for the owner’s ego, not the auto’s value, Alfa or otherwise. Many of the cars I’ve owned had power seats. The Jag’s even had push-button start, although not keyless. None were rendered any better or more valid for having these options, nor worse for lacking them.

    Finally, if you get a chance, please take an opportunity to search the interwebs for something like ‘keyless entry problems’ or ‘keyless start problems’. The number of people I personally know, (which is a very small cross-section of keyless auto owners), who have had themselves or their family members locked out, in, or been unable to start at all is amazing. This system is not just unneeded, it can and does render the car undriveable. If it weren’t considered an accessory, all makes/models/years using this ‘luxury’ would be recalled.

    Would I own a car with power seats? Certainly. With keyless entry/ignition? Maybe when mature. But is there some price point at which I ‘expect’ such options to be included? Certainly not.

    Thanks for your time and consideration.

    • Joe

      As expected, you have some ancient cars, and the cost of replacing failing electrics probably freak you out since you’re retired or close to it. How a Noble fits in this conversation I don’t know. The Alfa is a mass-produced premium hatchback competing with other mass-produced premium hatchbacks, and certain features are commonplace now that you won’t find in your rustbuckets that are now worth less than a laptop.

    • ahmed

      I dont know why are you having a “keylessophobia” over here…but…least i can say, i have a less-than 65k worth of a Mitsubishi Lancer EX…not the best car around, but it has keyless entry and start…been kicking around for more than four years without any single problem, least to say.

      Well…

  • Steve T

    Gosh, do I detect more than a hint of pique? One last time.

    1) My original point was that content isn’t the sole definition of value. The example Noble is unquestionably a luxury car, but doesn’t contain the review’s stated, and subjective, requirements to justify its price. Mass production is not relevant: content is content. 2) My ’11 G37 Infinity was sold to help finance a kitchen remodel, though there’s really no need to justify my current car choices, nor yours. 3) I do _all_ my own service, and, as an electrical engineer, I assure you that automotive devices hold no mystery. But replacing failed electrics on new cars is not the answer when it’s their very design that’s at fault. 4) The Mustang, with owner-installed Manly forged pistons and rods, Ford Racing suspension and 4.11 diff, and MAF/fuel pump/injector upgrades, has a slip for a 13.76 1/4, on street tires, driven by me. I converted the Honda to a cafe racer when I bought it as one of the first 13 delivered to England, and tried, spectacularly badly, to race at Silverstone. The 300M is driven 110 miles round trip daily and gets 25 reliable mpg while using less than a quart of oil per month despite having climate control and driver and passenger electric seats ;). And, perhaps disappointingly, there’s no rust on any of the (regularly clay bard) vehicles. They are all kept simply because there’s little currently available that does anything significantly better for its price. Pursuing change for change’s sake is, at best, trivial. Or a Microsoft business plan.

    I can tell there’s something of a fixation with the superfluous here. While some posts make reasoned and valid points, the gist seems to be that bling, specifically new bling, is required to define a level of value. And that unbelievers ‘just don’t get it’. Since my experience (an unavoidable byproduct of age) tells me differently, I won’t bother you again.

    Live long and prosper.

  • SpinTwister

    Seems Mr.Steve is confused. I still don’t understand why he’s comparing apples to oranges. In this case, comparing a Alfa Romeo Giulietta, a c-segment hatchback (comparable to VW golf/Ford Focus) to a supercar like Noble M600 (comparable to likes of Porsche 911 GT2 RS, Mclaren MP4-12C, Mercedes SLS AMG black series, Audi R8 V10 etc). Not sure whether he thought of the current Alfa Romeo Giulietta as the successor to Giulietta SZ racecar of the 60s. ;)

    Coming back to the point, the Noble M600, that he has mentioned (as well as the other cars at the same level) are purely meant as sports cars/race track cars. And for such cars, the main idea behind the sparse interior is purely to save weight and nothing else. So that manufacturers/owners or rather collectors of such exquisite toys can boast about the 0-100 timing, car handling dynamics, etc. Hence for “basic” options like reversing camera, memory seats, carbon fibre trims, fire extinguisher, interior carpet, boot carpet, etc, you have to pay through the nose. Not an issue for billionaires!

    I have heard that for the Mclaren MP4 12C, even sat nav and sports exhaust are options! And for Porsche 911 GT2 RS, air conditioning was not a standard feature. And these are the cars that are really superfluous that bring out the bling. Because rarely the owners of such cars take them to race tracks. They just use them for slow cruising or rather kept in pristine garages for private viewing.
    Have you ever heard of any billionaire buying a ford focus for bling? Or cross shopping this Alfa model for Noble M600? Maybe someone who trades his Infiniti G for a cooking stove and gas cylinder might do it. ;) In short, the features lacking in this Alfa are standard in vehicles that are comparable to it. So Steve, your arguments do not hold any water. And the writer of this article has done his job well.

  • PradoTLC

    relax folks….. during steve’s time radio was probably a “luxury” option…lol

    grant we get your point, a car doesnt need to have special gismos to give it a “luxury” rating..

    may be we are little kids with limited budgets and yes we demand every value for our dollar.. and yes in our books car must have these toys or we wont buy them :)

    PS this car is epic fail in UAE market

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