A drive to remember
The hair on the nape of my neck was suddenly, like a dog’s hackles, upright, and the adrenalin flowed like beer on a hot summer’s day. Zero to 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds with the right foot hard down, in an alluringly simple four-door, 4/5-seat Alfa guaranteed the heightened responses so necessary if a thoroughbred, be it a horse or a car, is to be mastered.
The Giulietta is totally understated, by no means bland to look at, but most certainly not of the eye-catching design that invites every policeman from Kalafrana to Marfa to look closely at, follow and make note of the number.
Once inside with seat, mirrors, steering and safety belts adjusted, this becomes a very ‘adult’, almost masculine vehicle to toy with, play with, and accelerate until the exhaust note turns from burble to scream.
This is a car to corner hard, brake hard, line up for the next bend as if the finish line at Le Mans was in sight. This car becomes a fury, an absolute delight to indulge your part forgotten fantasies in; a car to hone your driving skills, reviving almost forgotten techniques so hard learned a couple of score years earlier when cars were demanding, sometimes difficult to master, but always fun to drive.
This wayward child develops from its robust 1750cc TBi engine a decent 235 bhp. This is surely enough to satisfy most of us when the right foot is planted deep into the carpet. However Alfa Romeo have placed a cunning little dynamic control switch [DNA in Alfa parlance] close by the left hand when the change lever is approached. This switch must be pushed forward with caution.
It generates an interesting surge in acceleration that would plant the bonnet firmly up the exhaust of any vehicle only a few yards ahead. Boy, when the road is clear DNA is a most satisfying gizmo to play around with.
I always enjoy a car with limited slip differential even when it’s electronic. It allows the vehicle to be cornered with even more enthusiasm than would be safe in a car without this handling aid. Alfa Romeo have incorporated something they call VDC which is a package consisting of ABS plus ASR plus EBD plus brake assistant with hill holder.
That little collection should really keep all drivers on the black stuff, even when things get less than grippy. This is all rather gratifying as the Quadrifoglio Verde tested comes with lowered sports suspension to make the stance ever so interestingly different.
On a more mundane note the seat belts are as ‘safe’ as modern technology allows. The six airbags will hopefully never be used, but the front passenger bag can be deactivated anyway.
There are Isofix child seat fastenings and the rear seat folds 60:40 to allow this sporting giant to double up as a most interesting shopping car, or holiday baggage hold for extended continental trips.
We had the car on one of those excruciatingly hot June days and the climate control was successfully hard worked to keep the inside of the cabin at the sort of temperature that keeps the driver even more fully awake than adrenalin alone.
It seems to be a requirement in various EU countries to have daytime running lights and the Giulietta has LED daytime lights. The confounded multifunctional display and trip computer, arguably the prime mover behind various road accidents worked admirably well.
Car radio, bluetooth hands-free system with voice recognition and media player with USB port are presumably a must, hopefully to be used when the car is being driven slowly allowing the driver time enough to sort out radio problems without using the DNA switch or even a heavy right foot either by accident, or as an afterthought.
The interior of this car is totally Italian; it has been designed on the grand scale with the obvious intent of allowing the driver and passengers to feel most comfortably cocooned over journeys running into hours rather than fractions.
There are storage pockets behind the front seats, mug holders and a height-adjustable passenger seat to match the drivers perch. The aluminium sports pedals are a personal favourite along with aluminium kick plates and dark, brushed aluminium trim inserts.
Leather and microfibre upholstery with red stitching is great, but I must admit that the dark, tinted windows do nothing for me.
As a lover of speed, excitement and concentrated driving pleasures, darkened windows in anything other than a business class executive job seems to smack of various illegal pursuits...
The lowered suspension is the only reason for less than 5 stars.
Difficult to fault.
Nothing but superlatives here.
Great effort has been put into quality control.
At a glance
Combined fuel consumption
7.6 litres/100 km
177 g/100 km
1742 cc TBi
Length 4351 mm Width 1,798 mm Height 1,465 mm