1 Jan 2011
ALFA Romeo’s long-awaited, 147-replacing Giulietta hatchback made its Australian debut with a two-model line-up, majoring on class-leading safety, generous standard equipment and high technology in an attempt to initiate an overdue comeback for the Milanese motor maker.
At launch, the model range opened with the 1.4, packing the potent 125kW MultiAir engine with idle-stop from the MiTo Quadrifoglio Verde (QV), driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission.
The Giulietta QV flagship, which sat 10mm lower on its turbine-like 18-inch alloys, was powered by a 173kW, 1750cc turbo-petrol four with a staggering specific output of 98.5kW per litre, fed through a slightly taller-geared incarnation of the 1.4’s six-speed manual.
Unlike several previous Alfa models, often derided by cynics as being Fiats in fancy dress, the Giulietta was the first model to incorporate an all-new, Alfa-developed “Compact” platform.
The new underpinnings made extensive use of high and ultra-high strength steel, and attention to light-weight interior construction enabled the larger and better-equipped Giulietta to weigh just 1.5 per cent more than the 147 it replaced.
Unsprung weight-reducing suspension components, including a hollow tubular front anti-roll bar and a largely aluminium multi-link rear set-up aided agility. The rear suspension’s design also maximised boot space by reducing intrusion.
In addition to weight saving and improved handling, the new platform lent itself to high occupant safety levels and post-crash repairability.
The Giulietta featured an update to the 'DNA' drive mode system that debuted with the MiTo, which enables the driver to alter the car’s driving characteristics on the fly by moving a three-position (D, N and A) selector by the gearlever.
Both the 1.4 and QV came comprehensively equipped with dual-zone climate-control, cruise control, hill holder, rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming interior mirror, automatic wipers, dusk-sensing lights and a six-speaker CD radio with MP3, USB, “Blue&Me” smartphone integration and steering wheel controls.
The QV added part-leather upholstery, an uprated Bose sound system, tinted windows, aluminium pedals, beefier brakes with red-painted callipers and exterior accoutrements such as side skirts, dark headlight surrounds, cloverleaf badges and a satin finish on the door mirrors.