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Something smaller . . . Alfa’s diesel sparkler

MY love affair with the humble motor car began with a not so humble Alfa Romeo.

I was around 10 years old and my brother, Peter, arrived home with the most stunning redhead I’d ever laid eyes on.

It had a body for sin, oozed temptation and conjured up all sorts of weird and wonderful feelings in a young boy.

The badge on the boot lid should have made me giggle. It didn’t. You see, despite my tender years I knew this was something very special indeed - and she was called the Alfa Sud.

This was a Ferrari for the common man. Inside it was the closest we would ever get to the Prancing Horse. It had a rev counter (wow), sunken clocks and gauges for everything from oil pressure to battery ampage.

Fast forward 30 odd years and as I sink into the driver’s seat all those feelings come flooding back - only this time my feet can actually reach the pedals.

Launched at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, the Italians set down a real marker and caused a huge flurry of excitement among the world press.

Now, there's no doubting its pedigree and it is unquestionably the most desirable carriage among a very long line of peers.

The sloping bonnet and chisled, more muscular nose gives this hatch a really rugged and sporty feel.

The sunken door handles in the rear gives it a sleeker more coupeish look and the lasso-shaped LED lights compliment its perky backside.

But Alfas are about the driving and having pretty face and dinky derriere don't cut the mustard - especially when you carry the name of a Fifties icon.

Fear not. The legend lives on.

The Giulietta on test here today is a diesel - something relative new to the petrol-head loving brand.

Petrol heads may need as name change as this oil burner is as good, if not better in performance and handling as it’s unleaded brother.

Turning the key and only an acoustic engineer could tell the difference.

A diagnostics check includes a red silhouette of the car and looping speedo and rev counter needles tell you it time to party.

It's hard to believe that this is firstly, a 1.6 oil burner and secondly it's packing only 120bhp.

It feels a lot quicker, more responsive, frisker than most 2.0 Litre models.

Tinker around with its DNA - (driver settings for Dynamic/ Normal and All Weather) and suddenly you're in motoring nirvana.

A quick flick of a switch beside the gearstick transforms the whole feel of the car.

It goes from family run around to hot hatch - linking steering, suspension and masses of power in a heartbeat.

It really is hard to fathom that on the boot lid the word diesel is etched.

In fact, the only clue of the D word is in fuel consumption.

The week she spent around Dublin and on several non-tolled motorways, the Giulietta registered over 800kms (480 miles) before the orange light illuminated and there was at least another 100kms left before a pit stop.

And the good news doesn't end there. Because the omissions are so low (thanks to stop start technology) it costs only €104 a year to tax.

Couple that with the huge list of standard equipment including;

Stop Start, VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) with Hill Holder DNA driver control system, six airbags, front and rear LED lights, air con, split folding rear seats, CD/MP3 player, rear spoiler, electric rear windows and you're on a winner.

It also comes with a 5-star safety rating and an impressive 300 litre boot.

The range wil comprise of three petrol 1.4 Litre 120bhp (Band C) and 170bhp (Band B)

1750 TBi 235bhp (Band E) and two diesels, a 1.6 105bhp (Band A) and a 2.0 Litre 170bhp (Band B).

There really is something for everyone here and if it is individuality you’re after then this has it in spades.

The only thing Alfa can't guarantee is Uma Thurman as a driving companion.

I knew it was too good to be true!

The new Alfa Giulietta starts at €19,999