Bravo, Alfa

The Ital­ians fi­nally nailed it with the Gi­uli­etta hatch af­ter years of lessthan-ideal makes

Herald Sun - Motoring - - USED CAR -

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Italy has given us some won­der­ful things — Michelan­gelo, the Mona Lisa, Pavarotti and pizza — but it has also bur­dened us with some dodgy cars.

For many years now, any­one buy­ing an Ital­ian car such as an Alfa Romeo has been tak­ing a gam­ble that the leg­endary Ital­ian style and piz­zazz will be greater than the pos­si­ble pain of poor build qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity.

But Alfa afi­ciona­dos say things have changed, that the com­pany has ad­dressed the is­sues that gave it a crook rep­u­ta­tion and their cars are now well built and don’t break down.

The re­lease of the borna­gain Gi­uli­etta en­abled buy­ers to re­assess their prej­u­dices.

The fam­ily-sized Gi­uli­etta hatch ar­rived in 2011 with the prom­ise of im­proved re­li­a­bil­ity and dura­bil­ity to match the looks and driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that al­most ev­ery­one loves.

Two mod­els were avail­able at the launch of the Gi­uli­etta, the base model and the QV, both with petrol en­gines. The JTD diesel ver­sion joined them a year later.

There was no ar­gu­ment about the Gi­uli­etta’s looks. The coupe-styled five-door hatch was gor­geous, which­ever way you looked at it.

It wasn’t quite as ap­peal­ing in­side where the lay­out was a lit­tle clumsy, things didn’t quite fall to hand as well as they might. That apart, the cabin was quite roomy and there was a good-sized boot.

The Mul­tiAir base en­gine was a peppy 1.4-litre four­cylin­der turbo, the QV’s 1.7-litre also was tur­bocharged, and there was also the eco­nom­i­cal 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four­cylin­der as an op­tion.

For trans­mis­sions Alfa of­fered buy­ers the choice of a six-speed man­ual gear­box or a six-speed dual-clutch auto.

If the Gi­uli­etta siz­zled just stand­ing still, it re­ally came alive on the road where it re­warded in spades the driver who dared to push it along at pace.

The ride was well con­trolled, the han­dling won­der­fully bal­anced and re­spon­sive. The en­gines, all gems, had am­ple torque to get the pretty hatch zip­ping along im­pres­sively.

NOW

It’s only been four years since Alfa launched the Gi­uli­etta so it’s still early days in terms of mea­sur­ing its ul­ti­mate re­li­a­bil­ity and dura­bil­ity.

Own­ers rate their cars highly on the whole, they say they’re solid and well built, and give lit­tle or no trou­ble.

One owner we spoke to was un­happy with his car, the trans­mis­sion was a prob­lem, the stop-start fuel-sav­ing func­tion stopped work­ing, and there were is­sues with the in-dash dis­play.

Oth­ers were per­fectly happy with their cars, even though some also re­ported prob­lems with the stop-start. This func­tion shuts down the en­gine when the car comes to a halt, at traf­fic lights and the like, to cut fuel con­sump­tion and emis­sions.

If the bat­tery isn’t fully charged there can be trou­ble, some­times a shut­down. Be sure to check its op­er­a­tion when test­driv­ing a po­ten­tial pur­chase.

The same goes for the TCT dual-clutch auto trans­mis­sion. It’s not a con­ven­tional auto but rather a new-age man­ual with a cou­ple of clutches con­trolled by a com­puter.

It’s a com­pli­cated bit of kit that can be trou­ble­some, no mat­ter the badge on the bon­net, so give it a good work­out when you’re on your test drive. Lis­ten for odd noises and ob­serve for clunky gear changes.

While you’re at it make sure you’re happy with the way the TCT drives. Some peo­ple buy dual-clutch trans­mis­sions with­out un­der­stand­ing that they drive dif­fer­ently from the au­to­mat­ics they’re used to, and they can be dis­ap­pointed.

Check for a ser­vice record to make sure the car you’re think­ing of buy­ing has been looked af­ter.

OWN­ERS SAY

Howard Leech I have had my 2013 Alfa Romeo Gi­uli­etta for two years now and it has not skipped a beat, I couldn’t be hap­pier with it. The drive, so­lid­ity and style are bet­ter than any small car I’ve driven.

Steve Olsen We bought the 2013 1.4-litre. The en­gine stop­start en­gine func­tion some­times doesn’t work when the car is sta­tion­ary. Every­thing else is per­fect. Won­der­ful han­dling, fan­tas­tic ac­cel­er­a­tion, beau­ti­ful en­gine note, un­be­liev­able econ­omy and wrapped up in a stylish pack­age.

Michael Peer­son I couldn’t be hap­pier with my 2013 1.4. The styling, in­side and out, is great, the han­dling is su­perb and it has been per­fectly re­li­able. The twin-clutch trans­mis­sion is the best on the mar­ket, so good an old-fash­ioned man­ual can’t match it. One is­sue: the stop­start needs high bat­tery charge to op­er­ate, but this is nor­mal on Gi­uli­et­tas.

Brett Forbes I bought my wife a JTD for her 50th. What a dis­ap­point­ment. Within a week the trans­mis­sion failed. Two weeks later it failed again. It has since de­vel­oped fur­ther is­sues. Add to that the auto stop-start has com­pletely failed, the dash­board mul­ti­screen has is­sues dis­play­ing in­for­ma­tion, the driver’s sun vi­sor mount­ing has bro­ken and the Blue­tooth func­tions have failed. I had two Al­fas be­fore this one and they had fewer prob­lems be­tween them.

Bob John­son I ab­so­lutely love this car. I love the styling, the way it drives and the su­perb han­dling. So far it has been fault­less.

David Allen I bought a new Gi­uli­etta last year af­ter driv­ing most of the com­pe­ti­tion and I have been to­tally happy with it. The 1.4 turbo has sur­pris­ing grunt and it is so sweet to drive. I can’t find any build faults with it, which is a bit dif­fer­ent to the Al­fas of old.

SMITHY SAYS

A won­der­ful driver’s car that is still prac­ti­cal for ev­ery­day fam­ily use.

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