2012 Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCT review

* First UK drive of Alfa Romeos semi-automatic Giulietta * Gearbox improves fuel economy and CO2 emissions * On sale now from 21,855...

27 March 2012

2012 Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCT review

The stylish Alfa Romeo Giulietta hatchback is now available with a twin-clutch semi-automatic gearbox, known as TCT.

Whats the 2012 Giulietta TCT like to drive?
Were happy to report that the new gearbox has made a good car even better.

This was by no means a given. When we first tried TCT on the Mito supermini, we noticed that the cars stop-start system was so slow to restart that youd find yourself rolling backwards on hills.

Alfa has sorted this with the Giulietta, primarily because stop-start is disabled when the gradient youre facing is of a certain steepness. True, the Giuliettas system still isnt the quickest to operate, but its pretty smooth.

The TCT gearbox works well on the move, too. Whether youre in full automatic mode or youre swapping gears manually with the gearlever or the optional paddles, shifts are reasonably quick and extremely slick.

The turbocharged engines to which the gearbox is mated also impress. Both the 168bhp 1.4 petrol and 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel are smooth, fast and flexible, and the gearbox really suits them.

Use the cars DNA controller to switch the car from Normal mode to Dynamic, and the gearbox gets a sportier shift pattern where it holds low gears for longer. Dynamic mode also delivers weightier steering and sharper throttle responses.

Other than that, the TCT is much like any other Giulietta. Its neither as comfortable as a VW Golf nor as fun as a Ford Focus, but the Giulietta displays a good balance of abilities that makes it a pleasant car to drive.

Whats the 2012 Giulietta TCT like inside?
The interior design is pleasantly flamboyant, and although the materials don't have a wow factor, theyre smart and solid.

The dashboard is a bit of a mixed bag (the stereo is fiddly; the heater controls simple), but theres plenty of front space and a good range of adjustment to help you find a comfortable driving position.

The boot is a good size and shape, too, but rear head- and knee room are below average for the class.

Should I buy one?
If you do, it wont be cheap. The box itself costs 1350, and youll need to find a further 260 if you want the shifter paddles.

To make matters worse, the engines that TCT is available with are some of the most expensive in the range. The cheapest TCT-equipped Giulietta costs 21,855.

Still, at least your car will come loaded with luxuries Lusso Giuliettas get climate control, cruise control and Bluetooth, while Veloce cars add leather upholstery and sports suspension.

The other thing to bear in mind is that adding the TCT gearbox will reduce the amount you pay in running costs.

Fuel economy rises from 48.7mpg to 54.3mpg on the petrol, and from 60.1mpg to 62.8mpg on the diesel. The resulting fall in CO2 emissions also means your car will sit in a lower bracket for company car tax.

So, for some drivers, the TCT gearbox could well make financial sense as well as being a thoroughly nice thing to live with.

Ford Focus
Volkswagen Golf

What Car? says

Ivan Aistrop