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Test: Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV MY2014

15 January 2015 17:38 No comments

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We already know the Giulietta’s successor is going to sport a rear-wheel drive chassis, but for now we still have to make do with the front wheels putting down the power in Alfa’s pretty hatchback. Not much of a problem of course when there’s a moderate amount of power to be dealt with, but what if they need to handle 240hp and 350Nm of torque?

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That power comes courtesy of the 4C’s 1750 engine block that has brought along the six-speed TCT dual dry clutch transmission to which it is also mated in Alfa’s light sports car. We weren’t overly fond of this gearbox in the MiTo QV we tested recently, but here it luckily finds a much better partner in the 1750 than it did in the 1.4 MultiAir from the MiTo. The revised engine provides an upgrade of 5hp and 10Nm of torque whilst weighing some 20 kilos less than the previous 1750 we found in the former Giulietta QV. The weight advantage is made undone by replacing the manual gearbox by the TCT though. Still, the slight increase of power along with the faster shifts of the automatic box make for nothing but improvements compared to the car it replaces. 0-100 is done in 6 seconds flat with launch control engaged (down from 6,8), top speed has risen slightly to 244 km/h (151 mph) while consumption and emissions have dropped significantly too.

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Before we forget, this MY2014 version also comes with some minor exterior and overly due interior changes as well. On the outside the slightly different grille is worth a mention, while indoors we now find a (optional) 6,5” touchscreen with integrated satnav that does its job superbly with much crispier graphics and easier controls. It is therefore a much needed improvement over the outgoing system and is actually well worth the investment over the 5” screen now offered as standard in the Giulietta (and optional in the MiTo). Strangely enough though, Alfa no longer offers a CD-player in this car. I can’t imagine being the only person left on this planet still buying actual CDs, so that was a bit of a letdown to be honest. Aux-in, USB, Bluetooth and SD-Card are your options if you don’t feel like listening to the radio. This QV does get new seats and those are excellent in every single way. Their alcantara and leather surfaces make them wonderfully comfortable as well as stunning to look at, while they’ve also been designed to keep you sturdily in place through corners. The design and quality of seats has never been a weak spot for the Italians, but Alfa have really outdone themselves here.

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So; interior check, exterior check. Now how does all this translate to the road? Brilliantly, or disappointingly, depending on how you look at it. Bear with me. Those expecting to experience a hardcore and focused track car will not find this Giulietta QV meets their demands. It leans too much into corners and suffers from excessive body roll when really pushing the thing. In fact, the MiTo QV would probably outrun it on a very twisty road as it inspires more confidence and can carry more speed through corners. The Giulietta unfortunately lacks the ever-biting front end as well as the excellent body composure of its smaller sister.

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If you don’t plan on looking for its limits very often though, you will absolutely love it. This car strikes that delicate balance between being both comfortable for longer travels as well as being plenty fast when you want it to (up to about say 8/10ths, after which said flaws intervene). Those gorgeous front wheels have no problem getting the power down neither as torque steer is practically inexistent. The engine is a mighty one. There’s plenty of torque to provide low-down push pull and when the power comes in the thing just goes. Really goes. Alfa’s engineers have gone to great lengths to get an exhilarating engine note as well and to say they have succeeded would be an understatement. Claiming it sounds like mighty Alfa V6s of old would then again be an insult to signore Busso, but they have gotten as close as they probably could with a four-cylinder. It rumbles away and there’s a slight hint of turbo whistle at the very top end. Changing gear is accompanied by burbling noises, adding to the specialness of this Giulietta QV.

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Unlike in the MiTo, the TCT does its job flawlessly here with crisp shifts across the entire rev range. This also means the Giulietta is perfectly enjoyable in the city where you don’t want to rev it out all the time. The flappy pedals are the way to go though, as leaving it in automatic sometimes results in slight hesitations from the box as to which gear it needs. We found ourselves being in manual mode 99% of the time, even in urban environments. Gently accelerate to about 2.500 rpm to capture a bit of that sweet engine note and then pull the paddle; socially perfectly acceptable and absolutely lovely.

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Out of all the hot hatches we’ve tested from FCA, this Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde is by far the most complete one. The Abarth 595 Competizione has an unrivaled fun-factor to it, but is unpractical for everyday usage. The MiTo QV is engaging and fun to drive for a few days, but its ride is too unforgiving for longer journeys, not to mention the flawed TCT. And then we have this Giulietta, which is every bit as fast as you would want it to be, practical and comfortable. It is undoubtedly the Italians’ ultimate car for everyday usage at this moment (not taking the more expensive brands into account of course). A colleague recently described this Giulietta QV as ‘not so much a hot hatch, but rather a top-specced one’. Perhaps that is the correct way to look at it. And what a fine car it is in that respect. Still a shame there is no GTA to claim that ‘hot hatch’-title though…

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