Alfa Romeo has an exceptionally cunning plan to build excitement prior to driving the
. Through the combination of a rather potent welcome espresso and a particularly evocative motorsport-inspired press conference, hope builds that the latest Alfa Quadrifoglio Verde could do justice to the name. Nuvolari is mentioned, Enzo Ferrari is mentioned, the history of the Cloverleaf is explained, there's a Tipo 33 Stradale in the presentation film and you're quickly so consumed with Alfa lust that all day could be spent on Milanese roads enjoying the new Giulietta.
It's still a looker, no doubt about that
Then just as we're all ready to move to the cars (and to the toilet, thanks to that coffee), the man in a QV branded polo talks prices. And there's a tangible plummet in mood, along with collective shock. The Giulietta QV (it absolutely must not be referred to as Cloverleaf) is £28K. £28,120 to be precise. A Launch Edition with a few carbon trinkets is £30,280. At PH we like to judge cars primarily on merit but price must remain a consideration, particularly in the Giulietta's case where competition is so fierce. Can it really be chosen over a
On the plus side
Let's begin with the best bits. Having not personally driven a 4C yet it's impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions on how two installations of the same powertrain compare. What can be said about the Giulietta is that the engine and gearbox feel well suited to this car. A great deal of that press conference was centred on how sound is crucial to a great Alfa and how the Giulietta sounds like the twin-cam alloy blocked Cloverleafs of yore. That's not too far from the truth actually, the QV rasping along quite pleasantly in its mid range with a few gearshift gurgles and pops also. It revs keenly as well with little apparent inertia, a match for the GTI and Focus ST over the last few rpm even if all three feel at their most potent lower down.
QV not exactly in its element out here
The dry-clutch TCT gearbox is mostly a fine ally for the engine, delivering fairly quick shifts both up and down without ever delivering that instantaneous snap offered by the VW Group six-speed dual-clutch. But it's happy to deliver late downshifts with the paddles and the gearstick is even the 'right' way round if you wish to use that. It can hunt a bit when left in Drive and change up at unsuitable moments so best to flick the paddles anyway. A shame then that they're featureless and small plastic affairs; if a hatch is going to be DSG-only, make an event of the paddles. Renault did it with the aluminium shifters on the Clio and Alfa really should have followed suit.
After the fanfare of the press conference, all had been explicitly reminded that the four leafed clover represents the ultimate Alfa performance models. Unfortunately the Giulietta can't quite live up to expectations placed on it. That's not to say it's a bad car, but one pitched as Alfa's 'Everyday Legend' just has to deliver more. Drive it with vigour, at the kind of commitment level where the Golf GTI is in its element and the Megane 265 still has a little more to give and the QV just feels flustered. The car can skip across bumps, the previously composed and comfortable suspension running out of ideas a little. The Q2 diff-aping traction control seems a split second behind proceedings and you soon back off and find the car's gait at a more relaxed pace.
Far from bad, but it must be better for £28K
At around six or seven tenths the Giulietta is a far more pleasant car, the steering quite consistent and well weighted for an electric system and the lack of edge less concerning. Billed as a Giulietta S or GT it would make far more sense, without the wholly justified expectations that come with using Alfa's most famous moniker. It simply can't reward as an Alfa Cloverleaf (one can slip through) in the way it should.
Moreover, despite the seemingly positive influence of the 4C powertrain, the Giulietta flagship struggles against its hot hatch rivals. A five-door Leon Cupra 280 DSG is £28,530 and of course brings a far more modern platform and interior plus another 40hp. Perhaps the Alfa is a little better looking but the SEAT is vastly superior overall. It's not exactly bad, the Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde, but it's neither a great Alfa or an absorbing hot hatch. Shame.
ALFA ROMEO GIULIETTA QUADRIFOGLIO VERDE
Engine: 1,742cc 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed TCT dual-clutch auto
Power (hp): 240@5,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 251@2,000rpm (Dynamic mode only, Normal mode 221@1,850rpm)
0-62mph: 6.0 seconds
Top speed: 151mph
MPG: 40.3 (NEDC combined)
Price: £28,120 (Launch Edition £30,280)