Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8 Turbo Quadrifoglio Verde: Marrying track and luxury

The Italians are not known to produce luxury cars. Mention Italy combined with cars and you’d probably get the Lamborghini and Ferrari makes from the general public. Both Lamborghini and Ferraris are known to make cars that sprint to the century mark faster than what you could take in one breath, but hey, they aren’t exactly as refined or comfortable as your Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Alfa Romeo is an exception though. Back in the days, the Italian marque was famous for their luxury sedans such as the good ol’ 156 in the mid-2000s. Unfortunately, marketing and publicity dwindled after the series went obsolete, and it is indeed rare when we spot an Alfa on the roads.

But today, Alfa Romeo has picked up its publicity game by means of introducing two different models for different purposes. Be it at a sporty note, or a more comfortable and tamed ride, Alfa gives you two options to look at. We took a ride in the Italian’s new tamed and toned-down Giulietta recently.

Exterior

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Upon first glance, the Giulietta needs a bit of getting used to. It looks rather similar to its predecessor, although we seriously felt that it does look like an aggressive bug from the front (doesn’t help that our test car came in red).

This time round, the 1.8 QV came fitted with a lower suspension package as well as larger 18” shoes compared to the 17” on the old Giulietta. Despite it being a hatchback, the Giulietta features a hidden rear door handle, something that is becoming more and more popular amongst carmakers since the introduction of this in the Hyundai Veloster a while back.

Interior

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Fortunately for us, the interior of the Giulietta appealed to us more than the exterior did. It isn’t the most well-designed in its class, but presents a reasonable level of comfort and user-friendliness to even the most layman of drivers.

Compared to its predecessor, the Giulietta now comes fitted with a new touchscreen infotainment system, which provides you with higher technology such as Bluetooth telephony system and voice command ability. Unfortunately, the small screen up front doesn’t support navigation, something that most of its competitors now offers.

Despite all these minor shortcomings, the seats were a mix of comfortable and sportiness. It wraps around you and keeps you planted down when you push the 1.8 QV beyond the normal passenger comfort level. But even though it may feel comfortable at the front, the rear of the Giulietta wasn’t exactly the most comfortable of seats. It sits two adults comfortably, but the 1.8 metre width means that a third or middle passenger in the second row would feel a little too squeezy for comfort.

The Drive

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The turbocharged 1,742 cc plant sitting beneath the hood of the Giulietta 1.8 QV was perhaps one of the more dynamic ones we’ve driven thus far. It boasts 237 horses and puts out 340 Nm of torque, allowing you the luxury of reaching the century sprint in just 6.6 seconds. For a car in this hatchback category, we thought that this was rather impressive, not forgetting the growling engine note which we absolutely loved when you push the RPM needle higher towards the red line.

Alfa Romeo offers you the option of playing with its DNA – the three driving modes which make up the all-too-familiar biomedical term: Dynamic, Neutral, and All-Weather. On Neutral, the 1.8 QV acts the most tame, with a relatively light steering and a reasonably comfortable ride. On All-Weather, the car handles bumpier surfaces with ease, suited for adverse weather conditions we probably will never experience in tropical Singapore.

But push the notch upwards towards Dynamic and you’ll be greeted with a more exciting drive, coupled with a firm(er) steering wheel and increased responsiveness when you floor the metals. Gear shifts seemed a little delayed especially in the initial acceleration phase, but once you get pass that, you enjoy the aggressive growl and power from the plant sitting beneath the hood, complimented with the turbo-gauge displayed in your instrument cluster. We turned down the audio (despite it being quite impressive) to enjoy the more impressive engine note – after all, that would be the true music to any petrolhead.

Conclusion

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The Giulietta 1.8 QV poses strong competition towards its competitors such as the Golf and Renault’s Clio – it does have its advantages in terms of built quality, although it lacks in terms of its transmission lag as well as its plain race-track inspired interior. Yes, you wouldn’t buy the Giulietta if you’re looking for full luxury and fuel efficiency (the Golf would prove to be a better choice in all honesty).

But if you’re the track-oriented driver who still needs a four-seater to ferry the family around, the Giulietta should rank pretty high in your consideration list.

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We like:

Unique design (again depending on the individual), as well as the firm front seats that buckles you into the car. Oh, did we mention we love the exhaust note?

We don’t like: 

Drivetrain feels like it could do with more refinement, car lacks standard features such as keyless go and satellite navigation

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