Alfa Romeo loves Giulietta

Continuing the trend started by its Mito, Alfa Romeo's Giulietta has been positioned to attract family hatchback buyers seeking something with a little more visual sparkle than the usual suspects.

Continuing the trend started by its Mito, Alfa Romeo's Giulietta has been positioned to attract family hatchback buyers seeking something with a little more visual sparkle than the usual suspects.

Visually the Giulietta is pure Alfa Romeo. From the car's dominant and distinctive shield to its dramatically styled sheet metal, there no chance of it being overlooked in the supermarket car park. Even its name is guaranteed to melt the heart of the sternest of critics. Evoking memories of the company's past, the present Giulietta aims to rekindle the wealth of emotion and heritage that's been an integral part of the brand for decades.

This Giulietta is not just a four-wheeled nod to Alfa Romeo's past, however. The Italian marque has recently been pushing ahead with cleaner engine technology, and like the Mito it boasts the firm's new MultiAir petrol engines alongside the expected diesel option.

Built on a new platform, the Giulietta aims to deliver a more rounded and entertaining driving experience than some of its more conventional rivals. Factor in the car's 'DNA' function, which offers drivers the ability to switch between regular and sportier steering and throttle settings, and there's much to like.

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Once you swing open a front door it's plain to see that the Giulietta's extrovert character isn't reserved for its exterior. Alfa Romeo has gone to great lengths to make the cabin attractive and practical. The firm's trademark chunky rotary controllers for the ventilation system are present, along with the cowled main instruments, round vents and supportive seats.

It would be fair to describe the Giulietta's cabin as intimate by modern standards. If you want a people carrier you'll need to look elsewhere. For the rest of us, the car's intimate nature only serves to add to the overall experience.

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That said, there's enough room for a growing family; the Giulietta still has to perform as a regular car, and something it does rather well thank to its supportive seats, sensibly placed storage areas and good size boot. The range kicks off with a regular 1.4-litre turbo unit boasting 118bhp. Moving up there's a 168bhp version complete with MultiAir valve timing trickery, while the flagship Cloverleaf model gains a 1,750cc turbo petrol unit producing a healthy 232bhp.

Of all these engines it's the 168bph MultiAir unit that offers the most rounded and accomplished experience. If you're on a budget the regular 1.4 motor will no doubt get the job done but the middle ranking engine is just as happy to take it easy around town as it is to race along country lanes. Power delivery is smooth and instant, while selecting the DNA feature's Dynamic setting uncorks the engine's true potential.

For sensible types there's also a 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesel option. The latter offers comparable performance to the MultiAir petrol offering and, of course, a more frugal footprint.

And what of the Cloverleaf model? Here's a perfect example of Alfa mining its heritage and tapping into the emotion and interest held by its fans. The badging might be discreet, but the car's slightly lower ride height is easy to spot. The car's 1,750cc engine is another nod to Alfa's past glories on and off the track, and with its turbocharger spinning this Giulietta is predictably rapid.

Model: Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4 TB MultiAir Lusso, from �19,495 on the road

Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol unit developing 168bhp

Transmission: Six-speed manual transmission as standard, driving the front wheels

Performance: 0-62mph 6.8 seconds; top speed 150mph

Economy: 48.7mpg

CO2 Rating: 134g/km

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