I’ve never seen a car with a longer name. Ah, those Italians and their quirky cars!! As well as that quirky tag, Alfa Romeos also have a reputation for being a bit more classy and stylish than their competitors. The Giulietta is no exception; even the models at the bottom of the range sport the same chrome snout and offset number plate, along with the recessed rear door handles that give the impression it’s a coupe. But this hot hatch version is not really a wolf in sheep’s clothing, it’s basically all wolf.
There’s carbon fibre on the door mirrors and rear spoiler to hint at a racing pedigree, black sideskirts and front dam, and – on this launch edition tested – a dark grey matte finish paintjob.
The engine is pretty wolfish too, a 1750cc turbocharged petrol four-cylinder unit that kicks out an impressive 240bhp and will sprint to 60mph in a claimed six seconds, with a top end of 152mph. It makes an attractive burble on starting and stays just the right side of harsh when you put your foot down. Which you will, of course, and be pinned back into some impressively supportive racing car-like seats. They look good and are firm enough but, try as I might, I couldn’t get the height, rake and incline to align in a way to suit me. Maybe that says more about me.
The Giulietta is happy just bimbling along, but when you floor it to overtake there is a bit of turbo lag; it’s not too bad and sometimes it might be the six-speed, double-clutch automatic gearbox that is to blame, but after it has decided to stick or twist and drops a couple of cogs, the car unleashes hell. It bucks about a little as the traction control searches for grip, but it soon finds its groove and rockets you along. If you use the flappy paddles, with practice you can get smoother shifts.
The power and torque of the thing are fantastic and it is a fast car. It puts a smile on your face the way it goes about it too, even if the front end can get a little skittish. This is a common complaint of front-wheel-drive hot hatches, but here the electronic gizmos work to minimise the effect, and it feels pretty dependable and solid. Not quite like, say, a Golf GTI, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as you might want to feel a bit more involved.
But it’s not all good and I must mention a few bad bits. On this car there are lumps on the sports steering wheel to locate your thumbs, but however you adjust the wheel the left lump partially obscures the speedo needle, so you have to move your head to see how fast you’re going. Also, the gear lever has a tendency to pop out of reverse and into park for no good reason. If the car was an Italian person it might shrug and make “So what?” gestures, and Alfa fans might tell you such quibbles are charisma. But they could be annoying on a £30,000 car.
So it is a good-looking, quick, quirky car, with a great engine that is good fun to drive. But because it is a bit odd, will not appeal to everyone. Which you might think is just fine.