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New Giuliettas: Three fast ladies

2011-01-13 10:06

GIULLIETTA IS HERE: Alfa Romeo has just launched a three-model range of its latest four-door hatch with a choice of three engines and the promise of an auto.

Alfa Romeo launched its new Giulietta range in South Africa this week – just three models, each with a unique turbocharged engine but sharing the automaker’s new Compact platform with which it promises high levels of grip, grunt and passenger protection.

The steel and aluminium four-door hatchback structure is light and rigid, Alfa says, and rides on a new and sophisticated suspension system directed by “a new-generation steering system” that uses two pinion wheels.

The everyday ride, Alfa adds, can be adjusted to suit mood and circumstance through the cars’ Alfa DNA selector – no, it’s not biological, it’s technological and stands for Dynamic, Normal and All-Weather. It’s standard across the three models and modifies the reactions of the engine, gearbox, steering and electronic differential as well as the dynamic control system.

SAFETY BENEFIT

The new steering system has one pinion wheel connected directly to the steering wheel for maximum feedback to the driver; the second reads the movement of the steering rack and transmits the information to the electric steering box to move the wheels in the desired direction. There’s a safety benefit, Alfa says, in that the steering box is no longer directly in front of the driver and consequently no threat in a head-on collision.

The shell is only 4.35m long, 1.46m high and 1.8m wide but, Alfa says, the boot can hold 350 litres.

THREE SISTERS: These images are of the 1.4 Giulietta Multiair but its sisters in speed share the good-looking Compact shell. A six-speed auto is standard but an auto box is to follow.

Most remarkable, however, is Alfa’s continuing determination to squeeze maximum power from each cubic centimetre of engine cylinder volume. Each of the three four-cylinder Giulietta engines is turbocharged, but even so the kW output is huge. And the automaker has forestalled many potential buyers’ worries about high revs and turbines with extended factory guarantee periods and long service contracts (see end of text).

For now, three turbo petrol engines will be available, each Euro 5 emissions compliant and with a fuel-saving stop/start system on the two 1.4 models - an 88kW/206Nm 1.4TB and 125kW/230 or 250Nm (the latter with Dynamic engaged) 1.4TB Multiair. (For the less-technical, the Multiair produces 21kW more than a 1980’s three-litre Ford V6 – wouldn’t it be nice if other industries made such eco-friendly leaps?).

The third model, the direct fuel-injection 1750 TBi Quadrifoglio Verde, is capable of 173kW and 300 or 340Nm, the latter with Dynamic engaged. Its specific power of 99.92kW/litre is the highest yet from an Alfa Romeo production engine.

COOL ON FUEL

All three engines drive through a six-speed manual gearbox but, Alfa says: “Waiting in the wings is an all-new dual-clutch auto transmission that will debut in the Giulietta during the second half of 2011.”

The three cars are capable of 195, 218 and 242km/h respectively and claim “perfect conditions” combined-cycle fuel consumptions of 6.4, 5.8 and 7.6 litres/100km with 0-100km/h times of 9.4, 7.8 and 6.8 seconds.

FINDING THE WAY IN THE WAY: Alfa will bolt a TomTom satnav system to your new Giulietta - if you realy want such a lump in your eye. It's portable, though.


There’s no doubting that the latest Giulietta is a beautiful car. The nose has a new interpretation of the iconic shield and the headlights use LED (light-emitting diode) technology that includes a daylight function – won’t that excite the Lead SA crowd!.

“The profile of the Giulietta,” Alfa says, “is likewise brimming with personality, giving the impression of an agile and sturdy car. This is above all due to the side windows which recall the appearance of a coupé, emphasising the dynamism and fluidity of form.”

The rear door releases, as on other Alfas, are concealed.

“The ribs on the sides of the vehicle seem to elongate the car while the clean lines which end at the rear accentuate the angular shape of the body. The rear has styling which emphasises the feeling of a muscular car.”

Alfa believes the dominant concept in the Giulietta’s cabin is “lightness” and adds that “every switch is ideally located, the main ones grouped at the centre of the dashboard with the same retro, toggle-design as those on the 8C Competizione”.

There are practical open storage compartments throughout the cabin and closed bins on and under the fascia – the glove box can be chilled.

The Giulietta 1.4-litre Turbo is available in two versions, Progression and Distinctive. All the devices linked to active and passive safety are fitted across the range, including six crash bags, front belts with dual pre-tensioners and anti-whiplash head restraints.

PORTABLE SATNAV

Also standard are manual aircon, 16’’ alloy rims, four power windows, audio system with dual tuner radio, six speakers and MP3 CD player and the Blue&Me connectivity system.

The Multiair Distinctive adds 17" alloy rims, dual zone auto aircon, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, trip data computer, front armrest with storage compartment, cruise control, fog lights, reconfigurable control panel, seats upholstered in Competizione fabric and a chromed insert framing the side windows.

Optional is Blue&Me TomTom portable satnav that integrates with the car’s systems through Bluetooth.

There’s a special trim specification for the 1750 TBi engine - Quadrifoglio Verde (four-leafed clover), a legendary brand that has competed on tracks all over the world. Only available on this engine type, this special version is distinguished by its lower ride height (15mm front, 10mm rear), 17” special alloys, an enhanced braking system with red callipers and leather and micro-fibre upholstery.

PRICES (including VAT and emissions tax)

1.4 TB Progression (88kw) -  R243 000
Multiair 1.4 TB Distinctive (125kW) -  R279 900
1750 TBi Quadrifoglio Verde (173kW) -  R330 275

Alfa is claiming a “first” for a preimium brand with a five-year or 150 000km warranty on the new Giulietta. That comes with a six-year or 90 000km service plan for the 1.4-litre models (service intervals 30 000km) and a six-year or 105 000km service plan for the flagship 1750 TBi (35 000km service intervals) – “a benchmark in the highly contested C-segment”, the automaker says.

Three years of AA roadside assistance is included.

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