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Review: Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce vs. Volkswagen Golf GTI

2017-12-29 11:20

Image: Supplied

Robert Daniels

KuilsRiver, Western Cape  - How something looks in comparison to something else is often described as personal choice because taste differs, but if you think the Volkswagen Golf7 GTi is prettier than the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce there might be something wrong with your vision. But that's just my opinion.

Certainly one can appreciate the aggressive, modern, handsome, efficient (yes I said efficient) and hugely successful look of the Golf7 GTi, but the Alfa is pretty and there is nothing you can do about that.

This Veloce is also muscular and aggressive looking, but in a more eccentric, almost theatrical manner. Looking at the Alfa is not purely a sensory experience. The styling is sensual, emotional, sexual and forces you to feel something you simply cannot explain.

I would even describe it as impractical-looking and you wont understand until you notice where Alfa had to mount the front number plate or the location of the door handles on the rear doors. The front overhang is also ridiculously long for the sake of that frontal aspect’s design, and the rear view mirrors like the 17" wheels, are too small.

Peculiar engineering? 

The rear is cramped and the boot is small. Not too small mind you, but small for no reason because the rear wheel arches intrude heavily on boot space. However, when viewed from a three quarter rear angle you will notice that the arch bulges inside the boot aren’t anywhere near the actual wheels. The space in question is in fact occupied by the intricate looking suspension setup, but I had to crawl under the car to figure that out since it bothered me that much. 

Image: Robert Daniels

The Golf GTi by comparison is an exercise in efficient styling and design. The GTi is a revelation in function over form. It looks really, really good, but possesses none of the Alfa’s flair which again proves how style is truly timeless because the Giulietta is not a new car.

The Golf is perfectly proportioned from every possible angle. The sheet metal appears tightly wrapped around the futuristic VW MQB platform which in itself is an engineering victory and the 19" wheels wrapped in 'cartoonish' low profile rubber further emphasize this sense of masculine solidity, strength and purpose.

Image: Robert Daniels

There is not an inch of excess bodywork on the GTi hence my referral to design efficacy. Alfa on the other hand had no such qualms when designing the Giulietta and it shows in the liberal application of styling. The Alfa wins this round.


Performance on the other hand is a far less fickle affair. The numbers do the talking here and this is why again I’m confused. The GTi with its 2.0-litre turbo feels precise and confident in applying its 169kW at 4700rpm and 350Nm from 1500rpm to the front wheels via VW’s excellent DSG self shifter and that XDS electronic difirential which so realisticly mimics a limited slip diff. 0 to 100km/h takes 6.4 seconds while the Alfa needs a solid six to do the same thing and evenly as they are matched for output, the GTi wins it with the delivery.

The Giulietta’s 170kW comes onboard only at 5750rpm courtesy of the well known 1750cc benzina Turbo which produces 340Nm at 2000rpm.

The Alfa’s six speed DCT automatic is not as quick or intuitive as the DSG from VW though, especially during normal driving, but it still holds its own. The combination of excellent components found on the VW trumps the Italian though and the German feels the better packaged product all the time.

Unpredicatable fun

Drive and handling is however up for debate because as flawed as the Alfa might be, it is lots of fun to drive and I can only explain it as being an occasion since you don’t know what it’s going to do next where as the Golf is composed and almost clinically predictable. My only gripe with the Alfa is the big steering wheel which makes it feel a little lifeless at its centre.

The Golf’s independent multi-link rear suspension also gets in on the action and feels involved while cornering where the Alfa’s rear wheels can feel as if they just came along for the ride at times. That sense of not knowing with the Alfa does however add to the excitement of its handling characteristics.

And inside...

Interiors of these cars are not debateable. The Golf7 GTi wins hands down for space, convenience, ergonomics, even if I don’t like the volume control on the massive touch screen. This is a no brainer unfortunately.

I do however like the Alfa’s interior. Had they used more actual metal on the “metallic highlights” it would have been more convincing. It feels like a jazzed up C-segment car’s interior where the Golf is solid and of high quality throughout its interior execution.

The Alfa’s seats are stunning though. The metal-looking inlays in the head and backrest areas really had me admiring the seats. If something looks that good it doesn’t matter how they actually feel.

The VW Golf7 GTi is a car of the times where the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce makes a cameo appearance in 2017 because really its time has passed. There is however still a place for cars like the Giulietta.

Image: Robert Daniels

It’s an instant classic brought bang up to date and besides the erotic styling pedestrians swooned for it is also hugely entertaining to drive. If you drive one you will be noticed even by people who know nothing about cars. It demands an emotional response from anyone with a heart and the ability to appreciate pretty things. People stopped to talk to me about the car and they made primal noises and gestures.

One parking attendant was so worried because while I was at my meeting he needed to supervise a photoshoot because as he tells it the people didn’t want to leave the car alone. They wanted selfies he said, but he made sure they didn’t touch it. The Alfa Giulietta made people come together and talk to each other and take pictures of each other.

The Golf at R545 500 is the better car here by a considerable margin, but it never made a car guard feel responsible before. I have sung the GTi’s praises from mountain tops because I believe it to be the best, all round performance hot hatch in the world.

Image: Robert Daniels

It’s fast, engaging and entertaining to drive, but it’s also practical, comfortable, spacious and safe. You can give it to anyone to drive including your parents, siblings, offspring, partner, spouse, friend or foe.

It is extremely easy to drive quickly and where the driver fails, the extensive list of active and passive safety systems will intervene and probably save your life and everyone elses. It really is that advanced and thoroughly impressive. I can not tell you to choose the Alfa Romeo over the VW for logical or sensible reasons.

Purchasing the Giulietta is purely an emotional decision which I am unable to justify using words, pictures, figures and common sense.

Image: Robert Daniels

All I can tell you is the the Golf GTi wins this comparison, but the Giulietta Veloce had me catching feelings and it is the car I’d prefer to own for reasons I am unable to explain…


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