It's plucky and nimble but the bumpy ride isn't so great
Smart and stylish, but the ergonomics are poor so it's hard to get comfortable
Plenty of safety kit and excellent Euro NCAP crash test result
Some interior trim looks cheap and Alfa has a dubious reliability record
Spacious up front but rear passengers get a raw deal and the boot is just okay
Very decent equipment for lower trims, so only sportier drivers will really need to upgrade from here
Even the smallest engines (1.4 petrols with either 118 or 168bhp) are fairly brisk, while the 1.7 is a firecracker. There are a couple of 2.0-litre diesels but the cheaper 1.6 diesel is so flexible that there's no need to spend the extra; the 2.0-litre engines are a bit noisy under acceleration in any case. Wind and road noise also intrude in all models. You can tailor the Giulietta's driving characteristics to suit your needs but you'll want to avoid Dynamic mode in town because the throttle is so sensitive it makes it difficult to drive smoothly. The car thumps over road imperfections at slow speeds, but things get better as you speed up and the decent body control makes the Giulietta feel reasonably nimble in bends. The manual gearshift is a bit notchy, though, while the automatic changes gear quite smoothly.
The Giulietta's exterior lives up to the car's classy image, but the cabin is a little disappointing due to the use of some lower-grade materials in the lower reaches, the plasticky metallic highlights and lightweight steering wheel stalks. Meanwhile, the pedals are all at different heights and the clutch is too close to the centre console; meanwhile, the seats aren't cosseting enough and the steering wheel is too high. At least the dashboard controls are simple, and there are Isofix fittings, complete with top-tether points, on the outer rear seats. You can also deactivate the front passenger airbag so you can put a rear-facing Group 0+ baby seat here. There's plenty of space upfront but there's less rear head- and legroom than in many rival cars. The boot's nothing special, either, and there's a high lip to lift items over. Entry-level Turismo cars come with air-con, front and rear electric windows and stop-start which conserves fuel by cutting the engine when the car is stationery. Lusso spec adds alloy wheels, steering-wheel-mounted stereo control and Bluetooth, while Veloce brings sports features including lower suspension. The ranger-topping Cloverleaf adds more sporty features and cosmetic upgrades.
Some of the materials feel a bit flimsy and Alfa's reliability record isn't the best, either. Safety is more impressive, with a host of airbags including curtain airbags which extend to include the rear seats. There's also stability control and anti-whiplash head restraints as standard, and the Giulietta was awarded one of the best ever scores in Euro NCAP crash tests. There are deadlocks on every model while Lusso models and above have an alarm too.
The Giulietta's compelling looks make it a car many buy with their heart before their head, but even accountants will approve of its competitive price and good resale values. Average fuel economy and CO2 emissions are also competitive and the Giulietta performed well in What Car?'s True MPG tests.