But put that little chestnut to one side and what do you end up with?
Passion. An Alfa isn’t a sensible purchase; it’s a heartfelt one. You are supposed to get emotionally involved with these cars. To love them, in spite of it all.
It’s therefore curious to discover that the multilink rear suspension of the all-new Giulietta has been specifically designed so it doesn’t intrude into the luggage compartment.
In the press conference there was much talk of ‘comfort’ as well as dynamics. And the Giulietta’s engines are exceptionally efficient – the MultiAir-equipped 1.4-litre turbo petrol, for example, produces 167bhp yet emits just 134g/km CO2.
All of which sounds remarkably rational. Weirder still, the engineers are absolutely convinced the Giulietta’s new platform will make it the safest car that Euro NCAP has ever tested. No kidding. Straight faces and everything – including a pre-crashed production model that we could not only look at but actually get into. Who is this impostor – and what has it done with Alfa Romeo?
Gladly, the Giulietta still looks good, especially in ‘8C’ red, echoing Alfa’s gorgeous Competizione supercar. Notable exterior details include the curling rear LED light pattern, ‘floating’ grill and purposeful shoulders; it neatly bridges the gap between the MiTo and the rest of the range in both size and design.
The lengthy wheelbase means interior space is fair – although rear knee and headroom rather cosy – and that suspension design has indeed left a strikingly squared-off 350 litres of boot space. Your suitcases will be happy.
Metal finish trim, Italian instrument labels, flippy switches and chunky dials do the cabin ambience proud. But your fingertips will tell you some of the plastics aren’t quite in touch with class leaders. Nice effort, though.
Every engine offered is turbocharged. We sampled the aforementioned 167bhp petrol, an identically endowed 2.0-litre diesel and the range-topping Cloverleaf with 232bhp ‘1750’.
Even restricted to Alfa’s Balocca test track the latter felt sure-footed and fast. So it should with 338Nm of torque at 1,950rpm and an official 0-60mph time of just 6.6 seconds.
But then, the diesel dispatches the benchmark sprint in eight seconds flat – while emitting a low 124g/km CO2. The Giulietta’s engine quality isn’t in doubt. With the same DNA switch as the MiTo, you can even tune the car’s responses to your mood and the conditions, with a choice of Dynamic, Normal and All Weather settings.
Out on the road, immediate impressions suggest the undemanding will enjoy the Giulietta’s deft steering and decent ride comfort. But more spirited drivers will be less thrilled by its ultimate composure – outright body control is looser than the best rivals, with a tendency to shimmer over bumps and through longer corners.
A sensible Alfa? Well, it left us feeling slightly cold. But maybe that’s exactly what the brand needs to sell some more cars…
by CJ HUBBARD