I’ve had a number of Alfas over the years. Two Sprints (plus caring for another for six months), two 16-valve 33s, a GTV6 from the mid-80s and….. the most recent one, which I’ve never written about: My Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV.
Well, my former Giulietta QV. I’ve recently sold it because we’re moving to Sweden in the coming weeks.
I thought it was well past time I committed some thoughts about this car to print. At just over three years owned, it’s one of the longest-held cars I’ve ever had. It’s one of the best, too.
The Giulietta was one of the first of the new-breed Alfas after Sergio Marchionne committed to revitalising the brand in the early 2000s. The 8C Competizione set the ball rolling with a new styling language nearly 20 years ago. It was released as a concept in 2003 and hit the market in 2007. It’s curvaceous styling and prominent headlamps were drafted into the MiTo in 2008, the Giulietta in 2010, and the 4C in 2013.
Alfa has more recently released the Giulia, Stelvio and Tonale, all of which keep the curves of the post-8C era while incorporating the sleeker headlamps more reminiscent of the 159/Brera line that preceded it.
The Giulietta is a handsome hatchback. It uses the old integrated rear door handle trick to keep a more coupe-like appearance. It has a big Cuore Sportivo front grill that looks magnificent on an unplated car, but places the front number plate in an offset position that looks a little bit silly. The QV model gets 18-inch multi-spoke wheels. Later models got 5-hole teledials, another nod to Alfas past.
The front lamps include LED running lights and the rear lamps include a circular pattern that looks great when braking. There’s also extensive use of glass in the body, too, with a glass roof that sweeps back from the windscreen and offers two skyward viewing windows from inside the vehicle.
As all Alfas should be, the Giulietta is distinctive. It’s a genuinely handsome hot hatch in QV guise and properly smart in the less performance-oriented models, too.
My Giulietta is a 2010 QV model with the high-output 1750 turbocharged 4-cylinder mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. The engine produces around 230hp with 340Nm of torque.
This powertrain is an absolute delight. The engine is smooth and responsive. It’s thirsty if you’re playing in Dynamic mode (see below) but remarkably economical when in 6th gear – a claimed 5.2 litres per 100 kms (45mpg US) in highway mode, which corresponds with my experience driving the Giuletta on several 2500-kolimeter Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne-Adelaide trips.
Performance can be controlled by Alfa’s DNA selector switch, which initiates different engine and suspension mapping aimed at Dynamic, Normal, or All-weather driving. The difference between normal and dynamic is remarkable. The car is no slouch in Normal mode, by any means, but the throttle response in Dynamic is much more immediate and makes for a truly exciting drive.
Being the QV model, my Giulietta also got bigger brakes with red calipers – red makes it stop faster, of course. The suspension is also lowered by 15mm at the front and 10mm at the rear compared to other models in the range.
Interior and Equipment
Modern Alfas have typically been impressively styled on the inside and the Giulietta is no exception.
The QV model is equipped with leather seats with contrast stitching, leather steering wheel, the aforementioned glass roof, privacy glass, climate controlled AC, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, AR logo stitching on the headrests, and brushed aluminium pedals and gear lever.
The previous owner of my car did an audio upgrade that installed a double-DIN Pioneer stereo with Apple Carplay, which was housed in a new dashboard panel in piano black. The installation looked fantastic – as if from the factory – though it would have been better if he’d done the full wiring job to allow functionality for the steering wheel buttons.
The seats are fantastic. As mentioned, I did a few journeys between various capital cities here in Australia and they had me sitting comfortably all day.
So what went wrong
It’s an Alfa, right, so stuff had to go wrong.
Mechanically, the car was absolutely fine. As mentioned, the engine is a gem and it ran beautifully for the three years I owned the car. The gearbox, too.
The only mechanical issue I had was a broken bottom radiator hose connector, which is not beyond the realms of possibility for what was, at that point, a 10 year old car.
Inside, however, that stylish and well equipped interior did let the car down a few times. Cheap plastics and poor glues meant attention was needed for:
– Broken driver’s side interior door handle (replaced)
– Broken hood release lever (replaced)
– The sunroof is very, very sketchy. It opened just fine. Closing required a bit more patience (and luck). I did it once or twice then left it, and just enjoyed the glass roof in the closed position.
– Broken passenger side sun-visor clip (tolerated)
– Saggy door trims (tolerated)
You can see the sagging door trims in this interior photo.
Other than those minor interior issues, everything worked and the car was an absolute pleasure to drive for three years.
The folding rear seats meant that it could accommodate a load quite well. The six-speed gearbox was smooth in fast-changing situations and super economical on the highways. The engine was lively when called upon and got out of the way in normal traffic.
The handling wasn’t spectacular. You’re not going to go canyon carving at max speed in this without doing a better suspension setup. But it was fine for the average enthusiast – a good balance of comfort and speed – and the braking was much more than adequate.
I’d got used to forgiving the quirks of the various other Alfas I’d owned. I loved all of them because they made you fight with their worst bits in order to really, really enjoy their best bits.
There was very little to forgive with the Giulietta. It was beautiful to look at, wonderful to sit in, it was well equipped and powered by a fantastic powerplant.
This little Alfa carried me all around south-east Australia – more than once. It carried my now-wife and I on our second (and third) date, which were beautiful moments in our budding relationship. It took me everywhere I needed to go and it did so in comfort and style.
The Giulietta was one of the better cars I’ve owned and I can thoroughly recommend it. Alfa’s typically depreciate quite a bit so if you spot one selling at a good price, then do all your checks (of course), but be confident in knowing that you’re getting a cracking little car for the money.
I’ll certainly miss mine.