"It’s a proper manual this one"
OTR price: £19,080
With everyone getting excited about Alfa’s new Giulia it’s a reminder that Alfa Romeo is supposed to be about exciting sporting affordable cars. For years now they’ve failed to hit that Alfa ‘sweet spot’ (remember the Sud/the GTV/Alfretta?) that gave those of us without Ferrari or Maserati money a taste of inspired Italian motoring. Even Mr Ferrari raced Alfa Romeos before he started manufacturing Ferrari cars.
There’s something about the passion of Italian sports cars we enthusiasts love. Italians are passionate people, and that shows in the DNA of their sporting cars. It’s something I’ve witnessed many times behind the wheel of Ferraris, Maseratis and legendary Alfas.
I have a rally champion Italian friend who is a test driver for Maserati; when we drive together in Italy it is one of the most thrilling driving experiences. When he presses the start button bringing a Maserati Gran Turismo to life his whole personality changes, the car relishes it, and his masterful driving abilities are immediately at one with the car. He doesn’t drive in the traditional sense, but rather masters a Maserati with that magical combination of skill and emotion.
What has this to do with Alfa Romeo? Everything. For they are of the same family, the same genes, and all Italian. It is about inspiration and the love of cars, not engines or model specs.
These thoughts ran through the mind on our first drive of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.6 diesel Business Edition you see here. Does it have that Alfa magic or must the burden of proof lie solely with the new Giulia? It’s a proper manual this one, so we’re off to a good start. The aluminium pedals are perfectly placed with selective grip, and nicely positioned for ‘heel n toe’ gear changes (a racing technique for braking and blipping the throttle with the right foot at the same time) – tick again! The gear lever motion feels fluid, yet precise, and the dash board is functional with a large speedo and rev counter set for the driver’s attention…nice.
The clatter of the diesel on start-up is not so nice, but it settles and is hardly noticeable with the windows up. The drive is smooth, the noise unobtrusive.
The 1.6 turbo diesel is very tractable from low speed, but you need to dig deep with the throttle which gives strong but not exciting performance.
The Alfa Spirit
Yet the flick of a centrally mounted switch to ‘Dynamic’ mode transforms this car. The previously lethargic diesel gets spinach from somewhere and you’ll be grinning at driving a proper Alfa Romeo again! This is why I am currently wasting energy gear changing for its own sake, and relishing in how this car handles better the harder you push it. It’s accurate yet nicely weighted sports steering, and balanced linear attitude into fast bends allows you to distinguish this car as an Alfa with your eyes closed. Such a shame it’s diesel powered – but it is the Business Edition meaning it falls quite nicely into your company car selection list. This is the fleet car for the business exec who wants to really enjoy the drive to the next meeting.
Should you happen to be accompanied by passengers the cabin is comfortable for four, although taller people might appreciate a tad more leg room at the rear, and there is plenty of luggage space.
Engine: 1598 cc, 4 cyl in-line | Max power: 120hp | 0-62mph: 10 secs | Top speed: 121mph | Average fuel consumption: 74.3mpg | CO2 emissions: 99g/km
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