Alfa Romeo Giulietta (2014-2020) Review
Alfa Romeo's Giulietta is stylish and fun to drive but cramped with questionable interior quality
Strengths & weaknesses
- Stylish design
- Sporty handling
- Good standard equipment level
- Cramped interior
- Poor driving position
- Poor fit and finish
The Giulietta is Alfa’s answer to cars such as the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. The mention of those somewhat bland models is a reminder of just how much the sector needs a car with genuine class and style, and to some extent this five-door Alfa provides it.
It’s certainly a striking car, even if it was launched back in 2010, and in Sport trim makes rivals looks quite plain. Here, we’re considering the revised version launched in 2014 and facelifted in 2016. In fact, it was further revised in 2018 when new emissions regulations caused the engine line-up to be slashed to just two power units: the 120hp 1.4-litre 'TB' petrol and the 120hp 1.6-litre 'JTDM' diesel.
The first obstacle anyone must cross when considering an Alfa is quality and reliability. Unfortunately, the Giulietta has its fair share of problems, most of them relating to interior fit and finish. To reassure buyers, in 2018, Alfa Romeo boosted its standard three-year warranty to five years on new cars sold to private customers not using Personal Contract Hire - also known as leasing.
Pretty to look at and fun to drive, even the basic Giulietta drives well for a hatchback thanks to a comfortable ride, reasonably strong performance and engaging handling. The car remains relatively flat and stable in corners. It’s only spoiled by a gimmicky feature on all versions called 'Alfa DNA', found on a dial just underneath the dashboard. It offers a choice of three driving modes, which change the throttle response and steering weight. None of them are ideal, and they only result in an unsatisfactory compromise.
The 1.4-litre petrol engine struggles a little to haul the heavy Giuliieta, but it is eager to rev. The 1.6-litre JTDM diesel feels punchier and with the TCT automatic gearbox has steering wheel paddles for fingertip gear selection that’s quite fun. Neither will see off a hot hatch in acceleration terms, though.
The 2016 facelift included a makeover for the interior but quality still lags some way behind the VW Golf or Ford Focus. That said, it blends style with function very well and manages to feel quite special. The media system’s screen is small at five inches (other cars tend to use eight-inch or even 10-inch screens) but it is easy to use and packed with useful features.
The Giulietta’s stylish looks come at the expense of space and practicality, however. The driving position is cramped while even the front seat passenger will feel hemmed in. In the back, occupants will struggle for headroom.
The boot fares better at 341 litres - more than the previous generation Ford Focus, but 40 litres less than the VW Golf.
In short, it’s an attractive car from a brand that still inspires affection and excitement. It isn't as rounded as its best rivals, but that's the price you have to pay for the car's individuality.
|Warranty||5 years/75,000 miles (retail only and not PCH customers, otherwise three years/100k miles)|
|Boot size||350 litres/1045 litres|
|Tax||£165 to £515 in the first year and the standard rate after that|
Best Alfa Romeo Giulietta for...
Best for Economy – Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.6 JTDM 120 Sport
With an economy figure that’s 35% better than the petrol engine, the 1.6 JTDM is the clear economy champ in the Giulietta range. At the same time, its emissions are lower meaning that, for business users, it falls into a lower tax band.
Best for Families – Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.6 JTDM 120 Super
Powered by the economical diesel engine, this more comfort-oriented version is the clear choice for families. Dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and the Giulietta’s standard-fit 'Uconnect' media system are a bonus.
Best for Performance – Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4 TB 120 Sport
With a 0-62mph time of 9.4 seconds, the 1.4 TB petrol is the fastest Giulietta. It’s a lively engine that thrives on revs to help it haul the Giulietta’s considerable bulk but it’s entertaining nevertheless.
- 2014 Revised range announced including new 2.0 JTDM 150 diesel engine, and 140 and 170 versions of the 1.4 TB petrol. Models gain new LED daytime lights. New Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde also launched
- 2015 New 1.6 JTDM diesel engine goes on sale with 99g/km CO2 emissions and rise in power from 105 to 120hp. All engines now compliant with Euro 6.
- 2016 Facelifted Giulietta launched with a new nose, alloy wheels and exhaust tailpipes. Also gets new Uconnect infotainment system with smartphone-enabled LIVE services. New TCT auto version of JTDM 120 diesel joins the line-up. Can be operated as an auto or a manual using paddle shifters. Also now comes in five trim levels from Giulietta to Tecnica.
- 2018 five-year warranty introduced on retail cars only (PCH deals excluded). Uprated Giulietta Nero Edizione introduced with choice of 1.4 petrol or 1.6 diesel engines.
- 2018 October: range slashed in wake of WLTP emissions tests to just two engines (1.4 TB 120 petrol and 1.6 JTDM 120 diesel, while trims now number just three: Giulietta, Sport and Super.
Understanding Alfa Romeo Giulietta names
The Giulietta’s trim names signify the equipment level. They include, confusingly, Giulietta trim which is the most basic one, and pass through Sport to Super.
Engine 1.6 JTDM
The first number refers to the size of the engine in litres while the letters following it define which engine it is – JTDM for diesel and TB for petrol.
The standard gearbox is a six-speed manual but the 1.6 JTDM 120 engine is also available with a six-speed automatic called TCT (it stands for twin clutch transmission).
Alfa Romeo Giulietta Engines
1.4 TB 120, 1.4 TB 150, 1.4 TB 170, 1.8 TB 175, 1.8 TB 240, 1.6 JTDM 105, 1.6 JTDM 120, 2.0 JTDM 150, 2.0 JTDM 170
Following the introduction of tougher WLTP emissions regulations in 2018, the Giulietta range was, as of October 2018, reduced to two engines: the 1.4 TB 120 petrol and 1.6 JTDM 120 diesel.
Prior to this date the range was much wider and featured 1.4 TB engines in 150 and 170hp power outputs as well as a powerful 1.8 175 TB with 240hp. Turning to diesels there were also 2.0 JTDM engines producing 150 and 170hp.
The new line-up means that regardless of engine type, the only power you can have is 120hp, resulting in a less-than-sporty 0-62mph time of around 10 seconds across the board.
Economy figures are less uniform with the 1.4 TB turning in 39.2mpg but the 1.6 JTDM, 60.1mpg. This engine also produces far lower CO2 emissions: 123g/km CO2 compared with the petrol engine’s 164g/km CO2. This equates to a BIK tax rate of 29% for the diesel but 33% for the petrol.
The diesel is available with the TCT semi-auto gearbox. It imposes no extra penalty at the pumps over the manual but is slightly slower and emits 2g/km CO2 more.
1.4 TB 120
Alfa Romeo Giulietta Trims
Giulietta, Sport, Super
Prior to October 2018 when the Giulietta range was revised, there were many more trims. You’ll find these on used cars and they range from the basic Giulietta to the top-spec Tecnica. Going farther back to before 2016, the trims were different still with Distinctive being the base trim and higher ones being called Exclusive, Distinctive and Collezione.
In its final years, only standard-spec Giulietta, Sport and more comfort-oriented Super survived.
All versions have alloys wheels, split-fold rear seats, climate control, electric windows, engine stop-start and Uconnect infotainment featuring a digital radio and smartphone connectivity.
For around £1,250 Sport adds larger 17-inch alloys, rear parking sensors and sporty details including side skirts, a rear spoiler and an enlarged exhaust tailpipe finisher.
Super costs no more than Sport but dispenses with the sporty add-ons in favour of a more chilled-out ambience thanks to dual-zone automatic climate control, special upholstery and smaller 16in wheels for a more comfortable ride.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta Reliability and warranty
Alfa Romeo ranked a 23rd out of 32 car makers in the 2016 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, and finished fourth from bottom on reliability alone. Meanwhile, the Giulietta ranked 94th out of the 150 cars surveyed with owners criticising its poor fit and finish. So, it looks as though Alfa’s reputation for middling quality is well founded.
On the other hand, there has only been one safety recall associated with the car. It concerns the possibility of failure of the 2.0 JTMD’s automatic transmission and affects cars built from 2010 to 2015.
The Giulietta has an industry-standard three-year warranty but in 2018, Alfa extended it to five years on cars sold to private customers and not financed on personal contract hire.
Used Alfa Romeo Giulietta
New car discounts are a reliable guide to the future value of a car. Generally, speaking, the larger they are, the steeper the car’s depreciation.
The cars themselves are very well equipped and from 2015, all diesel models became Euro 6 compliant, meaning they will be exempt from any future inner-city diesel surcharges.