by Brad Leach - 03/01/13
Attention European hot hatch fans. Here’s a couple of facts: The Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV has more power and torque than the Volkswagen Golf GTI, is lighter and faster zero to 100km/h.
So if you thought the ‘Tearaway From Turin’ wasn’t on the same page as its much-lauded rival from Wolfsburg…well it’s time to think again.
The QV is the sporty spearhead of the stylish Alfa Romeo Giulietta lineup and its turbocharged 1.7-litre engine delivers 173kW/340Nm to 155kW/280 Nm for the Golf GTI. Tipping the scales at 1329kgs (1360kgs for the GTI), the Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV covers zero to 100km/h in 6.8 seconds (to 7.0 seconds for the Golf).
Add the unique Italian styling inside and out and there’s no denying the Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV demands attention from those keen on high-performance European hatchbacks.
Alfa Romeo is a ‘Must Watch’ name globally as Fiat sets about returning the glamorous Italian brand back to its best. We’ve all seen the upcoming 8C sports car and we’ve read about the joint venture with Mazda to produce not only the replacement for the MX-5 but also a new generation Alfa convertible.
Locally, both the Alfa Romeo and Fiat brands are now controlled by Chrysler Australia (Fiat owns Chrysler) – taking over from the previous importer Ateco Automotive. Chrysler Australia CEO Clyde Campbell has been forthright in saying he has plans to repeat for the Italian brands the sales success he has achieved with Chrysler and Jeep…so we’re expecting some major news into 2013.
Currently the Giulietta and the smaller Mito are the headline acts in Alfa’s resurgence.
Nicely styled, high-tech and feature-packed, the Giulietta is a stylish European hatchback which starts at $36,990 and includes a slick diesel model. The QV, priced at $41,990, is the Giulietta’s sporty range-topper and boasts that turbocharged 1.4-litre, 18-inch alloy wheels and leather-trimmed sports seats amongst its standard features.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV employs Alfa’s new 1.7-litre TBi engine. The turbocharged four-cylinder runs direct injection and is good for a hearty 173kW of power at 5500rpm and peak torque (in the ‘Dynamic’ setting) of 340Nm from 1900rpm.
The sporty QV model is only available with a six-speed manual transmission.
Combined cycle fuel consumption is rated at 7.6l/100kms.
Climbing inside the Giulietta QV there’s an immediate sense of classic Alfa Romeo Italian styling – most obvious from the leather/microfiber sports seats with ‘cannelloni rolls’ and red stitching (standard on the QV, optional on other models). The driver’s seat is height adjustable and the traditional three-spoke leather wrapped steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach.
Instrumentation is conventional but again there’s a stylish look courtesy of nice graphics. A central indicator light advises on optimal gear change timing.
The gear lever is nicely finished alloy and a central arm-rest folds away when not required.
On the audio front, the QV scores a six-speaker Bose system with the usual connectivity including ‘Blue&Me' Bluetooth and an input for Tom Tom satellite navigation.
Rear seat accommodation is on-par with others in this class and the seat split-folds 60/40 for load carrying versatility.
The luggage area is quite deep and offers 350-litres of capacity.
The Giulietta and its smaller sibling the Mito are easily Alfa Romeo’s best styling jobs for some years. Both highlight the latest interpretation of the classic Alfa Romeo grille which we know features in upcoming new models.
We liked the stylish LED headlights (LED rear lights as well) which, in the modern way, wrap onto the front quarter panels.
There’s a curved shape for the side which is not readily apparent in photos as the Giulietta QV tapers towards the nicely-shaped rear panels. Rear doors feature the concealed handles which are an Alfa signature.
At the rear, those nicely-shaped lights and curved hatch lend a wider look which is part of a very impressive overall dimension.
And the QV scores unique dark-finish 18-inch alloy wheels to boost its on-road sportiness.
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV’s turbo 1.4 springs to life with a purposeful exhaust note and you immediately note a smooth, precise feel when selecting gears. Acceleration is brisk and things really get cracking with 4000 revs on-board.
Alfa has equipped the Giulietta QV with the latest European suspension set-up – a MacPherson strut front with a hollow anti-roll bar and a Multi-link rear with aluminium wishbones mounted on a subframe. All Giuliettas come standard with an electronic limited slip differential, but the QV sports unique (firmer) sports suspension calibration.
On the technology front, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV runs vehicle dynamic control and cornering brake assist – both cut-in reasonably unobtrusively.
Comparisons with the Volkswagen Golf GTI are inevitable and while the Giulietta QV is noticeably more compliant over bumps - to the Golf’s German firmness - over the twisty stuff the Alfa is just as responsive and precise. Into corners with nice, slick down-changes keeping the revs up, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV turns-in precisely, is easily balanced mid-turn and accelerates briskly on exit.
Just like the Golf, there is mild torque-steer when pressing on hard and, at the very limit, understeer is the default chassis response.
That not overly-stiff suspension pays dividends around town with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV easy to live with every day. Light operations of the six-speed manual and clutch plus hill holder are also plus points.
Our tight CBD car park was conquered thanks to the Giulietta QV’s handy 10.9-metre turning circle.
We’re not giants at Car Showroom but even with our size 9 Nikes we found the pedals surprisingly crowded and, in a high performance car, the lack of a left foot-rest is odd.
Without a doubt the Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV joins the Volkswagen Golf GTI as deserving Car Showroom favourites in this segment. Both are fine examples of handily priced European hot hatchbacks…gets down to whether your prefer bratwurst or pasta really.
There’s no denying the competency of the Giulietta QV – this thing is fast, responsive and beautifully balanced in the twisty stuff…every bit as slick as the Golf GTI. And – like the GTI – it’s simple and refined in the weekday traffic crawl.
Equally, there’s no denying a large part of the appeal of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV is its ‘Italian-ness’ – the classic-looking Alfa sports seats, the stylish Alfa instrumentation and the unique exterior look.
It has to be the Volkswagen Golf GTI. A Car Showroom favourite, the GTI is Volkswagen at its best in technology and quality. The most direct comparison to the Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV is the GTI five-door manual which has a regular price of $40,490 but, as we write, Volkswagen has a special ‘Driveaway’ deal on Golf GTI from $39,990 so check with your nearest Volkswagen dealer.
Apart from the 3.0-litre M135i ($72,400) BMW’s 1 Series hatchback can’t match the Alfa Romeo Giulietta’s 173kW/340Nm. The closest is the 125i with 160kW/310Nm from its turbocharged 2.0-litre – but you’ll need more coin as the 125i is stickered at $48,777.
Same for Audi’s five-door A3 Sportback (apart from the $71,200 2.0 quattro). The A3 1.8 TFSI Ambition delivers 118kW/250Nm, isn’t as sporty as the Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV and the price is a fair bit north at $45,600.
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