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Car reviews - Alfa Romeo - Giulietta - QV

Our Opinion

We like
Refined ride, classic Alfa good looks, great engine
Room for improvement
Rear seats cramped, TCT not great in auto mode

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Alfa Romeo logo18 Feb 2015

By TUNG NGUYEN

Tim Robson19/02/2015THE hot hatch pack is surprisingly slender at the moment, with the demise of both the Mazda3 MPS and the liftback version of Subaru’s WRX. VW’s Golf GTI is the clear leader and the benchmark, while Ford and Renault chase hard with the Focus ST and GT220, respectively.

Alfa’s Giulietta QV has always hidden its cloverleaf under a bushel somewhat.

On paper, it can battle with the best of them it now sports 177kW (in TCT spec it falls to 173kW in manual mode) and 340Nm from a 1.7-litre direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine, versus the GTI’s 162kW and 350Nm 2.0-litre turbo four. The Focus ST – set to be replaced this April – grunts out 186kW and 360Nm from its 2.0-litre turbo four. The QV is the lightest of the three, by 22kg over the Golf and 136kg over the Focus.

Pricewise, the battle is pretty tight, with the QV manual weighing in at $39,000 before on-road costs, the six-speed manual-equipped Golf at $41,990 and the Focus the cheapest of the three at $38,290 (available in manual only). The QV’s TCT adds $2000, and the Golf’s DSG $2500.

This Series One update has addressed a few concerns hanging over the ageing Giulietta line namely, a tired interior and lack of an infotainment system.

Externally, lowered suspension combines with 18-inch rims fitted with 225/40 R18 Pirellis, twin exhaust tips, tinted rear glass, bespoke badging and blacked-out doorhandles, grille surrounds and foglamp bezels to set the QV apart from its siblings.

As well, 50 Launch Edition cars will be offered, sporting carbon-fibre mirror caps, five-hole grey alloy rims, a carbon-fibre spoiler and bespoke aero kit.

It’s an all-black affair aboard the QV, save for the contrasting stitching on the leather and Alcantara sports seats, gearshift and handbrake surrounds.

Fitted with a 6.5-inch infotainment system that incorporates satellite navigation, Bluetooth streaming, USB connectivity and more, the QV instantly becomes a more contemporary offering in the segment.

Available in both six-speed manual and six-speed TCT twin-clutch transmission guises, the QV has also inherited the hi-po 1.7-litre motor from the new 4C.

With a 275kg weight disadvantage over the two-seat sportster, the upgrade hasn’t turned the QV into a GTI-flaying rocketship, but it has endowed it with a personality that the German über-hatch can’t mimic.

Combined with Alfa’s dry twin-clutch transmission, the QV is a pleasure to punt through both urban and back-road environs. The QV’s ride is exemplary on its stock 18-inch rims, though its softer side manifests itself when pushing hard through long sweepers, exhibiting a tendency to understeer earlier than expected.

The QV’s personality really shines through, with lovely steering feel, beautifully modulated brake feel and a gruff soundtrack. There’s evidence of torque steer under power, but it’s only minor and just adds to the sense of occasion.

The QV’s five-door bodyshape lends general practicality, but the rear accommodations are a tighter prospect than others in the category, while the TCT transmission is pretty average when used in auto mode, with slurred, delayed shifts the norm when pulling away from a standstill. It behaves far better in manual mode, which can be operated via paddles behind the steering wheel.

Alfas seem to sell themselves very easily to the Alfisti faithful, but aren’t really on the radar of the average hot hatch buyer. That’s a pity, because the Giulietta QV deserves to be considered along with the best of them.

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