Thursday 20 July 2017

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Super Sport: 'Perfect for the driving purist but rear-seat passengers might feel boxed in'

A Giulietta for the driving purist, but it might leave rear-seat passengers feeling boxed in, writes Martin Brennan

ALFA ROMEO LOVE AFFAIR: The stylish Giulietta is sure to please its loyal followerswheel
ALFA ROMEO LOVE AFFAIR: The stylish Giulietta is sure to please its loyal followerswheel

Driving appeal and Italian design flair are the hallmarks of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Super Sport. It has recently been restyled inside and out which will please its loyal, if limited, band of enthusiasts.

This is a car that will excite drivers more than passengers - it has a great engine, but a lack of space in the rear is a concern. It is one for the purist who loves the driving experience it gives.

But looks also count, so the love affair starts with the 'Alfa Look' exterior. There is no mistaking an Alfa Romeo. The black honeycomb triangular grille, twin air intakes just inches off the ground, offset number plate, low-set wheel arches and curvy nose set the tone for a body that develops into a swept-back coupe lookalike, with the rear door handles concealed high up in the black door surround. The sporty look is heightened by five-spoke alloy wheels, privacy glass, side skirts, dual enlarged exhaust tail pipes and roof-mounted spoiler.

There is instant eye appeal but the interior is not as exciting as one would expect from a premium model - more Fiat than Alfa in fact. Rear-seat passengers would also appreciate more legroom, but the seats are supportive in all the right areas and make for comfortable travel.

A niggle which I and many other drivers have with Alfa Romeo models is that the brake and accelerator pedals are slightly too close together. A move from accelerator to brake often results in hitting both pedals, not the ideal situation when turning into a tight corner. Racing drivers may appreciate a heel/toe movement but those with large footprints take note.

The star attraction is the engine, the multijet 11 direct injection turbocharged with intercooler, which has very good acceleration with 380Nm of torque which arrives early. Touch the accelerator and the 150bhp two-litre engine takes less than nine seconds to reach 100kmh.

There is also an Alfa DNA driving mode selector switch to turn on Dynamic, Natural or All-Wheel driving configurations, and a cruise control mode for fatigue-free long journeys.

Mated to the engine is a six-speed gearbox which disappointingly is on the notchy side. It takes away from the full enjoyment of the superb handling and the excellent, if sharpish, brakes.

According to Alfa Romeo, fuel economy should run at 5.0L/100km, but 6.8 and 7.5L/100km were the returns in high-speed motorway driving and around town. This is a good performance from a car that perhaps tempts you to over-perform.

The sixth gear saves the day on the motorway with the rev counter hovering at a mere 2,000rpm while cruising at 120kmh. The stop/start function saves fuel when driving in town, and helps bring C02 emission levels down to a very respectable 110g/km.

Safety features include six airbags, anti-whiplash front head restraints, skid protection, hill-start assist and a host of braking aids. Luxury features include automatic rain and light sensors, DAB radio, dual climate control, phone and infotainment connections.

The Super Sport has a price tag of €27,721, with the car tested adding €400 for an 'Alfa White' paint job which translates into a brilliant white finish. This is definitely a car for those who want to stand out in the crowd and are prepared to pay for their driving enjoyment.

Sunday Independent

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