Alfa needs no excuses

Top motoring from Alfa Romeo.
Top motoring from Alfa Romeo.

Those of you in the know will realise that Alfa Romeo has been building some fantastic diesel engines in recent years and the 2.0-litre JTDM-2 units fitted to the Giulietta are a case in point.

Choose 140 or 170bhp outputs and you’ll get decent economy, low emissions and there’s no need to compromise on the style statement.

The 170bhp JTDm-2 diesel unit might well be a little more familiar than the newer 140bhp engine, but don’t overlook junior. The 140bhp unit comes with a hefty 350Nm of torque and that helps it to a 127mph top end with the sprint to 60mph detaining you for a mere 8.6 seconds. Go for the 170bhp unit and you’ll knock another second off the sprint time and top out at 135mph. The torque figure of the 170bhp engine is identical but peaks at slightly higher revs. It’s the 140bhp engine that feels more muscular.

Both powerplants use the JTDm-2 second-generation common-rail injection configuration and all versions get a six-speed manual gearbox while a dual clutch automatic is offered with the 170bhp units. The DNA selector that debuted on Alfa’s MiTo supermini reappears on the Giulietta. Dynamic, Normal and All Weather (can you see what they’ve done there?) modes can be chosen.

These then adjust the settings of the engine, gearbox, steering, Q2 electronic differential and VDC stability control system to optimise the car’s behaviour to the conditions of the driver’s preference. Dynamic works best on open roads but makes the throttle response too spiky for town driving, where you’ll want to switch it back into Normal. After a while you’ll wish the car could figure this out for itself.

Every time I see the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, I come away with a different opinion as to how pretty it is. Some of the basic proportioning is quite challenging and is extremely sensitive to colour choices and wheel selections. In dark colours, with the biggest alloy wheels on the options list, it looks fantastic. Go for a pale colour with small wheels and it can appear uncomfortably bulbous.

There’s no shortage of buyers who would love an Alfa Romeo but have been deterred by any number of practical considerations. Reliability, quality and cost per mile have often worked against the Italians in the past, but every objective measure demonstrates that contemporary Alfa models have their house in order.

The Giulietta 2.0 JTDm-2 is an intriguing car insofar as it marries some sassy styling with engineering that most rival manufacturers can only look at and begin to imitate.

Go for the 140bhp model if you’re looking to keep a cap on bills but don’t want to miss out on a helping of brio, while the 170bhp version will appeal to those with looser purse strings.

The overall package may not be as roundly polished as a VW Golf, but it feels a more special ownership experience and you won’t get kicked in the wallet for choosing the Giulietta over the Golf.

So what’s stopping you? Here’s an Alfa that needs no excuses.