The Italian firm's idea is for the Quadrifoglio to be equivalent to BMW's "eme", and it's clear that the Giulietta QV isn't equivalent, or even close, to the future M2, or the king of our best cars tested table, the M235i.
But does that impending loss of name mean the current Giulietta QV is a bad car? Not at all. The problem is "in the concept", in the definition, in knowing how to explain to the end customer what it offers and what they are looking for.
We spent a week with the latest generation of the Giulietta QV, which we tested briefly last year in Balocco, and we were able to draw more conclusions about the kind of car it is.
Aesthetically I have to admit that I was one of the critics. When I saw the final look of the Giulietta, its headlights didn't seem aggressive enough and its front end seemed too thick, due to the homologation requirements.
I overlooked then see it live and contemplate the surface treatment, but over the years is a car that, with sporty finishes and the right color, has ended up winning me completely.
The test unit had the excellent 8C red, an iridescent red color that changes its shades as the light hits it, which manages to extol the exquisite treatment of the surfaces of the car. Particularly striking is the play with the styling line that starts at the front wing of the concave-convex set on the wheel, to disappear upon arrival at the door handle and reappear "out of nowhere" just above the rear wheel arch.
The absence on the side of more ornamental elements than those mentioned above, but the game of concave to convex surface that can be guessed on the side surface, especially with this color and live, you end up falling in love. It is helped in this case by the QV rims and the black plastic finish of the car's underbody.
The front end has a personality of its own. I still think that a more 8C look or a more aggressive look (a la 147) could have been a better fit, but the work of the projectors is commendable, as is the set of nerves that are born in the hood and grille.
The rear, with its very short overhang, the shape of the C-pillar, the headlights... it's the area of the car I've always been convinced by, and now I wasn't going to change.
All in all, the Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde is a car that over the years and with the evolution of its rivals, has gone from not convincing me to probably being my favourite compact car. The Leon has lost its personality, the Golf is still "the same as ever", the A3 seems cold to me, the 1 Series still looks unattractive, the A Class is big-headed, the Civic has also lost its original Wedge Design personality, and the Focus is simply "weird". As it is, the Giulietta, which in my opinion could be a hair better in the front, ends up winning in my personal tastes for doing it better than the others, not for getting a 10.
But of course, design is a very personal thing, so you'll have to make your own judgements here.
Here there are two sides of the coin. After the restyling a year and a bit ago, the Giulietta gained a really capable and intuitive infotainment system, leaving aside the original, which was "a christ" and way behind its rivals at this point. But the evolution hasn't taken place without creating new conflicts.
The first and most marked is the loss of quality in the dashboard. Where there used to be a textured coloured plastic on the front of the dashboard (I brought you a photo from the previous Giulietta QV test to compare dashboard fronts), there's now a piece of black plastic with "nothing to say". It's not painted, it's not textured either. It doesn't look bad out of necessity, but it's bland when compared to what was there before. It would have been enough to paint it in the body colour (something you could easily do if you bought a Giulietta QV) to gain personality and get away from the problem.
On the left, the current dashboard, on the right, the original one.
And then there's the issue of the buttons. While the car wasn't a tribute to ergonomics before, and is now better resolved, it's no less true that the loss of the aviation-style controls has been a serious setback to that unique touch of personality it had before, and which made it special. The controls for the radio and infotainment system also had their own personality and a nod to the past. Now there's no more room for them, which is normal in the age of touchscreen radios. Even the piano black finish that was there before has been replaced by cheaper plastic.
Of course, there are other things to be gained. The steering wheel has a new design, although it is still too big in its central part and the buttons on its spokes are not in the best possible position. Curiously, after five years, for the first time I've found the right position behind it.
I'm one of those who likes to be as low as possible in a car, but the shape of the tubular crossbeam of the Giulietta's dashboard (similar to that of Fiat's Bravo and the Delta) prevented the steering column from lowering enough to allow a guy of my height (1.73) to have the steering wheel at the right height when the seat was as low as it could go. On this occasion I gave in, leaving the seat two points higher and found, at last, in a Giulietta, a suitable driving position.
It's clear that in a VAG car or a BMW you can still find a "better" position more easily, but at least, after five years, I've managed to find myself really comfortable in the driver's seat of this Alfa.
Otherwise, there are few changes inside. The front seats are spacious, the rear ones not as much as in other rivals, but they are well served, being its biggest problem the feeling of little glazed area and roof that comes close to the heads, but that for adults up to 1.80 does not represent any problem.
The trunk, with 350 liters, is not the largest in the category, but has nothing to envy to its main rivals, so any family will have more than enough.
If I talk, before finishing with the interior, finishes and trim, I will say that it is a very well made car in terms of adjustments, and quality plastics. Only the turn signal and light controls still seem inadequate for a car of its level and price. They are hard, have uncomfortable finger protrusions and their performance is far from being as "polished" as that of a Golf or Leon. On this front Alfa has to improve to finish rounding off the experience when you drive the car.
I already told you about the technique in depth in last year's contact, so I'll keep it short. The Giulietta QV pulls the same engine as the Alfa Romeo 4C: the 1,750 TBi with direct petrol injection and twin-scroll turbocharger with "dynamic slipstreaming" system that allows you to play with the exhaust gases to optimize the turbocharger response time and eliminate "lag".
Unlike the previous QV, the current model uses the engine in an "all-aluminium alloy" configuration, which saves 20 kilos of weight. The problem is that the Giulietta QV now comes with the TCT dual-clutch gearbox, which weighs... 20 kilos more than the manual gearbox, which eats up the gain of the block.
Of course, as the gearbox is lower than the body of the block, at least the height of the centre of gravity is improved.
Compared to the previous QV, the suspension settings and geometry have also been changed. There is, as always in the Giulietta, a McPherson strut in the front and a multi-link system in the rear. The monocoque is very rigid and the overall weight of the car (1,395 kilograms) is achieved. For example, a SEAT Leon Cupra is 1,421 kilograms in its 265 horsepower version with DSG gearbox, despite VAG "bragging" about the lightness of the MQB platform.
The Giulietta also integrates, as usual, the DNA control for driving mode selection, something you now have in almost any car from the competition, and which serves to modify the response of the accelerator, gearbox, steering, brakes... Brembo brakes with huge rigid alloy calipers on the front axle, very attractive, by the way, and which serve as an emulation of the front self-locking differential through the TTC program integrated into the stability control.
How it drives
But the big key to the Giulietta QV is still the way it drives. Alfa Romeo took a leap in the tuning of its models with the Giulietta. The 147 was a car with an "agile chassis", where the rear end could be moved and positioned at will, and where the engine was powerful, loud and brutal.
The Giulietta QV has been refined compared to the 147 GTA. Perhaps too much. From a heart-stopping sports car that made you feel the road and the mechanics, we moved on to a GT with enormous possibilities and capabilities, but much tamer.
With the new generation of the model little or nothing has changed in this respect. The Giulietta is still devilishly fast, with a very responsive engine, almost lag-free, with a strong torque (340 Nm from 2,000 rpm) and capable of stretching to almost 6,500 revs if necessary (although going over 6,000 is totally unnecessary, as 5,750 is the maximum power speed).
Helped by a resonator in the intake manifold, when you put a little more than half throttle the intake sound also becomes present in the cabin, something that when you're looking for the tickle is good to put soundtrack to your favorite curves, but that becomes somewhat tiring on the highway if you need gas to keep the pace.
But the problem is not in the thrust, which is phenomenal (six seconds in the zero to hundred and an 80-120 that can be beaten in 3.6 seconds), but in the sensations. Coming into a corner, you put your foot on the brake, but the feel of the pedal travel leaves something to be desired, with a little more assistance in the first few millimetres than you'd like, without the car braking too much, and then moving on to a hard feel that requires a hard stomp to achieve real stopping power, which is not very modulable, by the way. Although the Brembo's look lovely, they don't have as much power as they give you to believe visually. What's worse, after a few corners at high pace, the heat is noticeable on the track, and the pedal starts to go soft, but this also has to do with the TTC, as we'll tell you below.
The thing is that once the car is stopped, you put the steering wheel in. The steering is very direct, like a good Alfa Romeo, and has the right weight. It's "blind" in terms of sensations at first. The car steers flat, with no pitch beforehand, and with immediacy, but you don't "feel" what the front wheels are doing until you reach the limit of grip. This is more noticeable on the steering wheel than in other rivals, which filter too much. The problem is that the way Alfa Romeo's engineers have found to transmit the loss of front wheel grip translates into a sort of vibration in the steering wheel that isn't as crisp as the communication you had, for example, in the long-missed 147 GTA.
Anyone who has any hands on any car knows how to detect the limits of grip through the lightening of the steering wheel in your hands. The steering loses a hair of weight when the tyres are about to start squealing, just before they "go". Here, you don't have that information, and when you do lose motoring it's noticeable by parasitic vibrations in the steering wheel. It's certainly more information than you get in a competitor's car, which you notice when you lose nose visually and aurally, but never by feel, but you miss that progression of information on the steering wheel.
Once you're leaning into a corner, the Giulietta's line is on rails. Unsettling the rear to adjust the line is not feasible in conventional driving (only by playing with the inertias in a barbaric way can you do it, and the ESP will be there to cut you off). If there are bumps in full support, it eats them without slipping. And when you get to the exit of the corner, you can give gas. Here the TTC will do its job, pinching the wheel on the inside of the corner to avoid losing the line. But this subjects the brakes to intensive heating. So much so that if you do "the Guille" on your favorite curvy road, in 20 kilometers you can overheat the brakes until you notice what I said above: that the brake pedal starts to feel soft and go lower than when cold.
The dual-clutch gearbox, with "extra-small" paddles, allows you to change gear ratios without any parasitic longitudinal movement in the car, so you can get into gear on corner exits without fear of inertia change. It's moderately fast, but as we told you with the 4C and as it happened in Balocco last year in the contact, sometimes, in downshifts, it gets a bit bogged down with work.
The moral is clear: it's a fast and effective car, but it's not a car to have as much fun as the GTA was on curvy roads. Although it flows well with the curves, it lacks "talking to you" and "making you feel the road and the mechanics" to make you fall in love with it. Here it suffers from "germanitis" in its filtration of sensations.
Of course, being brave in curves doesn't take away from being polite on the road. That filtration that has gained over the much more radical and older GTA has its counterpart in the fact that on the open road is a fast, effective and comfortable car. Its suspension is far from being too harsh to make you uncomfortable, and the sound isolation is well achieved.
So, the conclusion that I draw after a week at its controls is that it is a good GT, fast, a car with which to do many miles with the pleasure of being well served with power under your right foot, and able to move well in curves. But it will never seek to be as much fun as a Megane RS Trohpy... In 2018, when the Giulietta QV gets a successor in the form of a rear-wheel-drive compact, we hope it will recapture that shattering dynamic apex of the old GTA, and make room for a QV like the current one, renamed Veloce, as "fast and effective but at the same time comfortable and family-friendly compact".
By the way, fuel consumption? You can average between 9 litres per 100 km and 11. It's rated at 7 litres per 100 km, but if you take advantage of its power you'll be far from those figures.
The test model was the Launch Edition, a limited edition that can still be found in dealerships for 32,900€, which is more equipped and has black underbody and carbon fibre on the mirrors and spoiler. The "normal" model costs €31,400, but if you're considering it, the Launch Edition is more worth it. And if you let me recommend a colour, the 8C Competizione Red will make you fall in love.
Taking this Launch Edition to draw conclusions, I won't go much further than what I told you in the closing dynamic section: it's the car for the whole family for those who like that driving thing and want to have performance at their disposal. It's a sort of Italian Golf GTI, faster and more powerful.
There are things missing from this car that some of its rivals already have (adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist), and the interior design isn't what it used to be, although the infotainment equipment is now better.
The key to all this is that this Italian compact won't let you down if you know you're buying a machine that's not for burning up wheels and brakes on twisty roads every weekend, but rather a versatile all-rounder with a very good engine and a good dose of power. You will sacrifice something in technological equipment compared to its rivals if you bet on it, but you will have differentiated aesthetics.
Would I buy it? Well, if I needed a five-door compact and my budget was around 33.000€, it would be one of the main candidates. Would it win the final choice over the Leon Cupra? For price and aesthetics, yes...