I have a generalised prejudice against the family sport car. It sounds ingenious, but the reality is usually a load of squashed people unable to see properly out of tinted windows in the back, with a jerk in the front to whom the cachet bestowed by his engine noise is more important than the deep-vein thrombosis brewing behind him.
This isn’t necessarily untrue of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta – only this time, I was the jerk in the front, which made those dynamics look rather different.
The styling, particularly of the nose, is beautiful: rounded in a classic way but not twee or nostalgic; dynamic without being ugly; quirky but not needlessly so. It looks fabulous.
It talks a good game, too, with its various driving styles (dynamic, natural and all-weather) but dynamic didn’t do it for me: it was all noise, with shudder and sudden lurching, too much concentration required. All-weather is too sedate, although in fairness I tried it in only one weather, an indeterminate English meh. Natural did live up to itself, though: it delivers beefy piston-head performance without skittishness, and you can race off lights laughing like Bart Simpson.
The truth is, it’s only fun when you’re driving like a bit of a git: hurtling into speed bumps, then admiring the smoothness of the sudden braking and stable ride, accelerating into corners and loving the handling and grip. If you’re experimenting with a more pro-social driving style – I’m currently essaying “on a country road on the way to a funeral, at which you are likely to meet and have to socialise with these other drivers, even if they’re strangers at this particular moment” – it loses a bit of its charm.
The cabin feels claustrophobic, since the frames and struts are all quite wide. Over-the-shoulder visibility is particularly compromised, though I didn’t mind because I mainly check traffic from behind using my ears. (I’m joking! Of course I also like to look.) But it’s pretty cramped: not much legroom in the back, a ceiling close to your head and a boot that is a little awkward to access. It has a few nice touches (the back door handles, for instance, are at the top of the window) but it isn’t swell.
This car is gorgeous, no question. But maybe buy a picture of it, for your wallet, and choose some other car for driving.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta: in numbers
Top speed 121mph
Acceleration 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds
Combined fuel consumption 74.3mpg
CO2 emissions 99g/km
Eco rating 9/10
Cool rating 8/10