Our cars: Alfa Romeo Giulietta - July
Week ending July 27
Driven this week: 100 miles
Alfa Romeo Giulietta
Pictures of the all-new Seat Leon emerged recently, and it was largely unchanged except for one noticeable detail.
The current Leon is one of the few cars in its class that has rear door handles hidden within the door frame (the Honda Civc is another), whereas the new one has conventional grab handles on the door.
This little change made me consider how fond I am of the tucked-away handle on the Giulietta. It might have five-door practicality, but this simple design detail means it doesn't shout about it.
Tom's Alfa Romeo on video
Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0 JTDm-2 140 Lusso
Week ending July 20
Driven this week: 154 miles
In the middle of the Alfa Giulietta's dash sits a line of five toggle switches. They are subtly in keeping with the rest of the stylish interior, and I am a big fan of how they look.
However, on a recent drive home I realised that I wasn't really sure what they did, because they have barely been touched in more than 13,000 miles of driving. They just sit there looking pretty, but don't enter my consciousness because I have no cause to use them.
In fact, the lightly rubbered toggles control the front and rear foglights (not really needed when I mostly drive around town) turn off the stop-start system (it works so anyway there is no need to turn it off) and the central locking. The fifth toggle is unused, which is strange because it's the one closest to the driver.
It's a real shame that these attractive and solid feeling buttons are left ignored, especially given the hard and utilitarian plastic of the electric-window controls. It smacks a little of Alfa designing the dash without really considering what the individual elements are going to do.
Week ending July 13
Driven this week 150 miles
The man who designs Alfas must have very small feet. How else to explain the lack of footspace surrounding the clutch pedal of this Giulietta. Take your left foot, size 10, and you'll have to adopt a most unsuitable approach in order to boot that clutch pedal into the cramped footwell.
There are other issues. If, like me, you prefer the steering wheel in your lap, you have no option but to move your driving seat up. Even then things aren't ergonomically correct - if you're tall, your head will touch the rooflining and your view out of angled junctions will be blocked by the chunky door pillar. The hefty handbrake is accessible only if the central armrest is raised.
In the 1990s I ran a 1980s Giulietta. It didn't require as much effort to drive as this modern version does, although in many ways it was just as awkward. The man who designs Alfas has obviously worked there some time.
Week ending July 6
Driven this week 350 miles
The Alfa has been slowly clocking up the miles over its time on the What Car? fleet, largely due to it feeling much more at home on the motorway than around town and therefore spending more time on longer runs.
It has just passed 13,000 miles, but there has been no indication from the dashboard or dealer about a service being due. Fearful that I had sailed past the due date and was mistreating the Giulietta, I checked with Alfa.
However, it turns out that the service intervals are a massive 21,000 miles apart, so I can rest easy for a while longer. If I were in a Ford Focus or a Seat Leon I’d have had to scout out the facilities at my local dealer at 12,500 and 10,000 miles respectively.