Our cars: Alfa Romeo Giulietta - May
Week ending May 25
Driven this week: 264 miles
Alfa Romeo Giulietta review
I drove our Alfa Romeo Giulietta to Ford’s technical centre recently, to film some readers looking at the new Fiesta ST and Kuga models. The boot was large enough to take my camera gear, including a long tripod and slider mechanism. The motorway drive around the M25 was comfortable, and the turbodiesel engine was nippy enough to fit in with the local Essex driving style. Even the notoriously glitchy stop-start system worked well on urban stretches.
The problems began when I took it home for the weekend. Firstly, the Giulietta's central locking and alarm beep makes an ungodly din – quite embarrassing when you arrive home late – not at all neighbour-friendly.
Secondly, my wife and I planned on taking a trip to Chessington theme park with our two little boys. The youngest is still in a rear-facing baby seat, and the eldest has graduated to a more grown-up forward-facing toddler seat. We have a double buggy – a side-by-side model, which folds down flat and takes up little room in our own car.
The buggy wouldn’t go in the boot, however. It’s longer than my longest tripod, it seems. I tried, and failed, to fit it sideways, diagonally, or any other brute force method to get it in the boot. Worse still, the baby seat wouldn’t fit safely in the back. It’s a Britax Baby-Safe, and can be fitted on a base, or directly on the seat via a seatbelt.
It’s important that the back of the seat doesn’t touch the seat in front. I’m 5’8” at best, with short legs, and I had to slide the driver’s seat 2 notches forward before the baby seat and the driver’s seat were out of contact. This made it uncomfortable and unsafe to drive, so we gave up the idea, moved both babies and seats back to our own car and had a nice day out. The Giulietta, unfortunately, spent the weekend on my driveway, looking quite stylish and very stationary.
Tom's Alfa Romeo on video
Week ending May 18
Driven this week: 304 miles
A long run out to Malvern to test Morgans gave me a chance to play with the different settings in the Alfa's DNA system.
The trip was well over 140 miles, and the first aim was to go as efficiently as possible, so 'All Weather' was selected to keep fuel consumption to a minimum. This dulled the throttle response slightly, but not so it ever felt as though overtakes were an effort on the M40. The trip computer showed that we'd managed nearly 62mpg on the motorway section, so I reckoned I'd earned a little fun and slotted the car into 'Dynamic' once I left the motorway.
I'm never a fan of this setting around town, because it makes the accelerator so sensitive that you can sense the disapproving glares when you misjudge the clutch release at a junction. It's better on rural roads, but still seems rather pointless with a diesel engine. I'd rather just have a more rounded 'Normal' mode and an 'Eco' button, but then NE doesn't sound as cool as DNA I guess...
Week ending May 11
Driven this week: 205 miles
I don't have to remind you how wet it's been lately, but the Alfa's pedals have been reminding me – providing little to no grip when operated with wet soles. It's especially bad on the clutch pedal, which in anything other than hiking boots, is like a bar of soap.
Our Giulietta is fitted with the standard Lusso trim pedals, but I'm wondering if the optional £160 aluminium sports pedals with rubber grip inserts would be a wise investment.
Week ending May 4
Driven this week: 256 miles
It was my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary last week, as well as my mum’s birthday, so I jumped in the Alfa to drive the 80 miles home for the double-whammy celebration. By the end of the weekend, I have to say I’d changed my view of it.
My first encounter with the Guilietta was a quick commute home through London traffic. This isn’t where the Giulietta excels, due to its grumbly engine and unrefined stop-start system.
Once on the motorway, though, it was a different story. The 2.0-litre JTDM-2 engine is very flexible and pulls strongly in fifth and sixth when overtaking. The engine remains rather noisy, but wind- and road noise didn’t encroach and the ride was great.
It’s a shame, being so tall, that I still can’t seem to get a good driving position. Back pain was never an issue because the seats provide good support, but the wheel is too high for me even on its lowest setting. These gripes aside, I’ve warmed to the Giulietta considerably.