The Italians finally nailed it with the Giulietta hatch after years of lessthan-ideal makes
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.
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.
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.
A wonderful driver’s car that is still practical for everyday family use.