In recent years Alfa Romeo have been making steady progress in improving their cars and nowhere is this more noticeable than in the Giulietta. My transport for the next seven days will be the all singing all dancing Giulietta Cloverleaf – Alfa’s range topper which has a 1750 cc turbo-charged engine lurking under its bonnet kicking out 235bhp. This should be fun. Walking out in the morning and seeing the Giulietta waiting for me, dressed in its Competizione Red paint actually made me stop for a moment and take it in. This really is a very very good looking car, yes that particular paint is a €1,750 optional extra but it looks incredible. Combined with its 18 inch anthracite grey turbine alloy wheels and proudly wearing its Cloverleaf badges on its wings – this Giulietta is simply gorgeous. With its rear door handles integrated into the window frames, it pulls off the two door coupe look rather well and overall its proportions looks just right.
Climbing in and the first thing I noticed was just how nice the dash layout is. The radio is beautifully integrated into the centre of the dash whilst the clocks are simple yet elegant, and in true Alfa fashion, you also get a small ‘Benzina’ and ‘Acqua’ clocks. Twist the key (yes, key test to start, not some silly ‘Start’ button) and the turbo charged engine burbles into life. Its not overly loud, but you do get a slight sense that this is a bit special. As with all current Alfa’s, it also has a DNA switch nestled beside the gearstick which allows you to change the car’s engine & handling characteristics. There is a degree of difference between the different modes – Normal, Dynamic & All Weather. Normal mode does tame things down a fair bit in the engine department as you would expect, and this probably helps to keep its emissions classification down, though it still falls into band E with a Road Tax cost of €630 per year. Quite a sting when you consider their 1.6 diesel Giulietta is Band A (€104 per year).
But lets face it, if you’re going to be splashing out for this Cloverleaf version, you’re going to be willing to accept the tax based burdens that go with it. What this really is, is a driver’s car. Slide into the aforementioned interior and you’ll find that everything is right where you want it to be, its all very intuitive. Steering it well weighted to suit the cars sporty nature, but still easily light enough to suit city driving. The engine though, is what really makes this car shine. It produces power in a way that will make you keep your foot down all the way until its time to snatch the next gear. And its not just power delivery in a boring linear fashion, this thing ‘feels’ alive. Maybe its just the way that the Italians do things, but whatever it is that they do, it works! Despite being a turbo charged motor there’s little in the way of lag, although if you’re of a heavy footed nature like me, you will find first gear terribly short, particularly when you’re driving in Dynamic mode. This of course isn’t going to be economical in the slightest, but damn its fun.
Overall there are very few aspects in which I could mark the Giulietta down on. Cabin space both front and rear is more than adequate and whilst boot space may not be class leading, there should be enough to suit most people. The biggest downside most potential buyers will find with the Cloverleaf version is the cost; compared to its 1.6 diesel sibling, the Cloverleaf commands a whopping €12,000 and an additional €526 extra per year in road tax. So one thing you’ll be guaranteed is exclusivity. Virtually everyone will opt for the smaller petrol or diesel engines, and to be fair with the right bodykit and wheel choice you would have a car every bit as good looking. But you won’t have the grin that I had on my face for an entire week of driving the Cloverleaf.