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2011 Alfa Giulietta Review

July 2010
Filed under: ALFA ROMEO Car News | ALFA ROMEO Headlines

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The latest incarnation of the Giulietta has been designed to beat the best in the mid-size C segment. Thats no easy task considering the excellence of the competition in a category that now contributes one out of every four new cars sold in Europe.

To take on this challenge Alfa Romeo has penned an all-new car that sits on an all-new Compact platform. This employs a combination of advanced engineering and sophisticated technical solutions to ensure the Giulietta can accommodate the needs of all customers in this category. The result is a model that combines impeccable safety credentials, Italian style, comfort and functionality with the dynamic qualities taken for granted in Alfa Romeos. In addition, every customer can adapt the new car to their specific driving requirements thanks to Alfa Romeos D.N.A. selector. But this is just one of the electronic systems that the Compact platform was designed to integrate and exploit. Others, fitted as standard to every model in the range, include the Electronic Q2 differential and the VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) system.

A range of five new engines - three petrol and two diesel - all of which are turbocharged and Euro 5 emissions-compliant, gives the Giulietta further flexibility and makes it best in class for emissions, acceleration and fuel consumption. Even the smallest capacity, a 1.4-litre, has a lusty 120bhp. The new 1.4-litre TB MultiAir 170bhp offers the lowest emissions and fuel consumption in its class for petrol engines of this power rating.

The 105bhp JTDM-2 engine is a flexible and economical diesel that uses second-generation MultiJet technology to combine extremely low fuel consumption with a responsive drive. The 2.0-litre is another second-generation MultiJet diesel and has the highest performance in its sector courtesy of a hearty 350Nm of torque available at just 1750rpm. All these engines combine Start&Stop technology (excluding the 1750 TBi Cloverleaf version) and a gearshift indicator to enable drivers to achieve the best economy possible.

The most powerful engine in the range is Alfa Romeos new 1750 TBi petrol unit, which offers the performance of a three-litre but has the fuel consumption of a 1.6 litre four cylinder, employing revolutionary technology to ensure strong acceleration at low engine speeds with minimal turbo lag.

But the Giulietta isnt just about being fun to drive. Each model, from the entry-level Turismo specification to the range-topping Cloverleaf, has a very high level of standard equipment. Electric windows all-round along with manual air conditioning and electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors are all standard. Move up to the Lusso model and you get dual zone automatic climate control, fog lights, leather steering wheel with audio controls and the Blue&Me hands-free infotainment system.

Both these cars come with the comfort chassis specification. For a sportier drive the Veloce model features sports suspension, whilst the Cloverleaf sits on suspension thats been lowered by 10mm for a more involving drive and a racier appearance. The Veloce also gets darkened headlights, fog lights, plus aluminium kick plates and pedals. The Cloverleaf model gets all this plus dark tinted windows, sporty red brake callipers, Visibility Pack, and 18 spoke design alloy wheels with a dark titanium finish.

Whichever the model, owners will get one of the safest cars on the road.

The new Alfa Giulietta was recently awarded a Euro NCAP five-star crash safety rating and an overall score of 87/100: an impressive result that makes it the safest compact car built to date.

The rating is even more significant considering that since 2009, Euro NCAP has adopted new judgement criteria composed of four areas of accident assessment, namely Adult Occupant, Child Occupant, Pedestrian Protection and a new area: Safety Assist. Injury avoidance and mitigation functions, such as seat belt reminder, ESP and speed limiter, are also rated. Achieving a five-star rating will become increasingly tough year by year (2009, 2010-2011, 2012). In this scenario, the rating achieved by the Alfa Giulietta (97% Adult Occupant, 85% Child Occupant, 63% Pedestrian Protection and 86%Safety Assist) means that the car will also have a five-star rating in 2012 when the assessment system will have reached maximum severity.

This major accolade yet again confirms Alfa Romeos special commitment to all aspects relating to the protection of all road users. The Alfa Giulietta was designed and built to obtain maximum passive and active safety performance. Evidence of this, for instance, is provided by the adoption of the most advanced electronic dynamic control systems (for braking and traction): the Vehicle Dynamic Control system which manages key functions like Hill Holder, traction control and emergency braking; the MSR system which prevents wheel locking when the throttle is released; the DST (Dynamic Steering Torque) system; Electronic Q2 which electronically simulates the presence of a self-locking differential, and the brand-new Pre-Fill system, which alerts the braking system that the accelerator pedal has been released, to decrease intervention time and consequently braking distance.

Thousands of hours of virtual simulations have gone into the creation of the new Compact platform, which is making its debut in the Giulietta. The quality of virtual design has been materially confirmed by running 200 tests on components and subsystems, some 150 Hyge slide shock test simulations and more than 80 crash tests (frontal impact, side impact, roll-over and shunting, taking various speeds, different types of obstacles and the need to protect occupants, physically very different from one another, into account). These numbers confirm Alfa Romeos profound commitment to making the new Giulietta one of the safest cars in Europe by ensuring that it contains the most advanced safety systems.

Six airbags are standard (two of which are Multistage), plus three-point seatbelts with double pretensioners and load limit limiters, and SAHR (Self Aligning Head Restraints), a new second-generation device built into the backrests of the front seats that moves the head restraints closer to the occupants heads in the event of an impact, to lessen the effects of whiplash. There is also a highly significant contribution to occupant and pedestrian protection provided by the body, the bonnet, the doors and the dashboard crossmember, in addition to the seats and steering column.

The efficacy of all these systems is maximised by a three load line front structure that guarantees structural uniformity and consequently uniformity of response in the event of frontal impact, regardless of the type of obstacles or vehicle that the car is in collision with. This is a breakthrough in partner protection, because the vehicle is less aggressive when crashing into the front or side of another vehicle, and in self protection, because uniform deformation makes the retaining systems more effective, regardless of the type of accident.

Finally, in the field of preventive safety, the new Giulietta uses headlights with Daytime Running Lights that are automatically switched on when the engine is started " to meet a specific European standard that will come into force in 2012 " and LED tail lights, brighter than conventional bulbs, for extra safety.

The Giulietta has a full complement of airbags plus an array of electronic devices designed to let drivers extract the maximum from their Alfa Romeo while staying safe at all times. Theres ABS anti-lock braking with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD); Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) - Alfa Romeos interpretation of Electronic Stability Programme; Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Dynamic Steering Torque (DST), Hydraulic Brake Assistance (HBA) and the new Pre-Fill function for the brakes.

It ensures that drivers can concentrate of getting maximum pleasure out of their driving while safe in the knowledge that the car is looking after them.

RIDE AND HANDLING

'“ All-new platform
'“ Weight saving technology throughout
'“ D.N.A. system standard for extra adjustability

To satisfy drivers who demand the highest levels of road holding and agility in a comfortable, practical and safe package, the Alfa Giulietta sits on an all-new platform called Compact.

This chassis will underpin all future Fiat Group mid-size vehicles and so has a high degree of modularity for multiple applications. From the outset the aim was for it to be ranked best in class for handling, steering feel, performance to weight ratio, ride comfort, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), active and passive safety and climatic comfort.

This enables the Giulietta to offer two different types of driving experience. The Turismo and Lusso models sit on a comfort chassis while the Veloce and Cloverleaf have a more sport-oriented set-up, with the Cloverleaf also featuring 10mm lowered suspension.

This has been possible because the latest Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform has been built with 90 per cent of its structure employing either high or ultra-high strength materials. The few components that have been carried over have been thoroughly revised to improve performance and slash weight. This has led to the Giulietta having a minimal (1.5 per cent) weight increase compared to its smaller, less lavishly equipped predecessor.

A magnesium dashboard support shaves 6kg; giving the pedal board a plastic support along with a plastic clutch pedal saves 3kg; and a new rear seat back that employs thermoplastics in both structure and cushions pares 7kg.

Aluminium has been employed in the MacPherson front suspension pillars, making them 8kg lighter than the 147. At the rear a sophisticated multi-link suspension solution has been used because it ensures the best possible exchange of forces between the road and tyres for excellent handling, while also offering good ride comfort and minimal boot intrusion. Manufacturing the wishbones and rear cross member from aluminium has reduced weight by 10kg compared to conventional multi-link systems used by competitors.

This has an impact on performance. Keeping weight, particularly that of non-suspended (unsprung) masses, to a minimum, gives even greater ride comfort. Improved stiffness and low mass give the structure a high natural frequency to give good vibration performance and insulate the cabin from the road, reducing driving noise.

The electric power steering system is also new. This employs two pinions on the steering column. The control pinion mechanically connects the steering wheel and rack for direct and precise steering that feels natural. The second power pinion transmits the torque generated by the electric motor to the rack. The result reduces fuel consumption by 3 per cent compared to a regular hydraulic set-up, gives variable performance depending on driving conditions and speed, and allows the steering to be influenced by the cars electronic systems.

Brains

The new platform has been specifically designed to integrate and optimise different electronic systems in order to make the Giulietta one of the safest and most enjoyable drives in its sector. The brains behind this is Alfa Romeos D.N.A. system which is fitted as standard across the entire range and acts on the engine, brakes, steering, suspension and gearbox to allow drivers to hone the cars responses to the conditions.

For sporty reactions, it offers Dynamic mode; theres Normal for the urban environment and All-Weather for maximum safety in low grip conditions. It achieves these adaptations by modifying the operating parameters of the engine, gearbox (in the case of the automatic), steering, brakes and Electronic Q2 differential.

Normal mode is designed for relaxed driving, so every component controlled by the DNA system is in its regular configuration. This offers a lively engine, discreet Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Dynamic Steering Torque that controls oversteer. By simply moving the switch positioned ahead of the gear lever to Dynamic, the VDC and Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR) become less intrusive, the engine is made more responsive, the steering enjoys less power assistance for a sportier feel, and the Electronic Q2 system is enabled.

This works in conjunction with the VDC and uses the braking system to simulate the behaviour of a Limited Slip Differential. When the driver accelerates through corners it constantly distributes torque between the driving wheels, modulating the braking of the inner wheel while feeding power to the outer loaded wheel. The result is better traction and a more agile feeling from behind the wheel. The steering also helps make the Giulietta feel sportier by sensing lateral acceleration thats greater than 0.6g and providing increased resistance to the steering wheel to help the drivers feel of the road, particularly through fast bends.

D.N.A.s Dynamic setting also activates a new function called Pre-Fill. This has been designed to give the brake pedal the feel of a racing car. It recognises that the driver is about to brake when the accelerator is released and increases the pressure inside the braking system by between five and seven bars. This reduces pedal travel by 30 per cent and ensures quicker braking response.

On its third setting, All-Weather, DNA makes the ASR more responsive and ensures the Giulietta is easier to control on low grip surfaces.

ENGINES

'“ Five Euro 5 engines
'“ Class-leading performance and economy
'“ Return of the 1750

The latest Alfa Giulietta has a range of five high performance engines, all of which conform to the latest Euro 5 emissions criteria.

The most powerful petrol engine in the range is the 1750 TBi, a twin overhead camshaft, direct injection, variable valve timing engine that brings the classic 1750 capacity back to the Alfa Romeo range but with a modern twist. This innovative turbocharged unit provides more horsepower and torque per litre than any other four-cylinder petrol engine found in this class of car.

The resulting performance is equivalent to a three-litre while economy remains in line with a compact four-cylinder engine.

At the core of this power unit are a number of major innovations. It makes far better use of the turbocharger than conventional turbocharged petrol engines thanks to new scavenging technology. An ECU installed with ultra-modern engine parameter management software monitors and optimises fuel dosage, ignition advance and timing. This ultra-precise valve timing generates a direct flow of air from intake to exhaust manifolds, activating the variable geometry turbocharger instantly. Maximum torque at 1500rpm is 70 per cent greater than a conventional turbo engine, with response times more than halved. And maximum torque can be accessed at only 1900rpm, dramatically improving driveability at low engine RPM.

This engine also employs direct injection with innovative seven-hole injectors to help reduce emissions. And it has dual variable valve timing while the next-generation turbocharger optimises the use of exhaust pressure waves to increase torque at low speeds.

While the 1750 TBi is the jewel in the Giuliettas crown, there are plenty of other gems. The entry point 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine develops a healthy 120bhp at 5000rpm and its maximum 206Nm of torque is available at 1750rpm, ensuring progress is relaxed, and making it ideal for handling city traffic. More than 120,000 hours of work has gone into developing this four valve per cylinder engine, with particular attention paid to minimising power loss and increasing efficiency so that high levels of performance can be accessed with limited fuel consumption and emissions.

As with every other engine in the range, apart from the 1750 TBi, it features Start&Stop technology as standard. This system temporarily cuts the engine instead of idling and is reckoned to cut consumption by 15 per cent over an urban route.

Start&Stop also cuts vibrations in the passenger compartment, but should the driver wish to override it, theres a control near the steering wheel to do so. Linked in to this system is the Gear Shift Indicator which discreetly tells the driver when its the most efficient point in the RPM range to change gear. They represent two simple yet effective methods for drivers to economise on fuel.

Lusty

Giulietta owners keen on cutting costs while still wanting plenty of power will find that the 1.4-litre TB MultiAir engine with its fixed geometry turbocharger ticks those boxes. It combines a small cubic capacity with a high power output, 170bhp, yet emits just 134g/km of CO2. This is thanks to the MultiAir system which could be as important to the development of the petrol engine as common rail was to diesel power more than a decade ago. MultiAir takes the control of engine ignition to previously unthinkable levels of efficiency. Compared to a conventional petrol engine of the same capacity, this technology boosts power by 10 per cent and torque by 15 per cent, yet slashes fuel consumption and emissions both by 10 per cent.

However, drivers who choose diesel power need not feel short changed. The 1.6 JTDM-2 represents a major advance over rival units due to the amount of torque it delivers at low engine RPM. The 280Nm at 1500rpm that it develops, increasing to 320Nm at just 1750rpm (in Dynamic mode), means the engine is responsive and lusty. Yet its economical too, with carbon dioxide emissions of just 114g/km, and an economy figure of 64.2mpg on a combined cycle. On top of this, a servicing interval of 21,000 miles is particularly lengthy and cuts running costs further, making the Giulietta more appealing to business car customers.

Top of the diesel line-up is the 2.0-litre JTDM-2. This engine uses a new variable geometry turbocharger to give better performance than any of its rivals in terms of acceleration,torque, economy and emissions. A particularly healthy 350Nm at 1750rpm gives the Giulietta superb get-up and go, yet CO2 emissions are just 124g/km. Both MultiJet engines use an oil pump with an on/off type solenoid valve. This varies the capacity of the pump depending on engine operating conditions, which means that the engine absorbs less power from the pump, in turn reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by two per cent.

All engines feature a state-of-the-art manual six-speed gearbox. This is from a new family of three axle transmissions that have an improved change quality and are more compact than transmissions with two axles. The six-speed also means that at motorway speeds the engine revs lower than with a five-speed box, giving less noise and lower consumption.

From early 2011 a dual-clutch transmission will become available in conjunction with the 1.4 litre TB MultiAir 170bhp and 170bhp 2.0 JTDM-2 engines. This is effectively two gearboxes, each with its own clutch. When an odd numbered gear is selected, the next even numbered gear is primed. When the gear is changed, clutches are simply swapped, guaranteeing continuous torque and therefore traction. It makes driving more efficient, more comfortable and most definitely more fun.

INSIDE

'“ Handsome and practical
'“ Class leading occupant comfort
'“ Well equipped throughout the range

Alfa Romeos aim has been to guarantee that any journey undertaken in the Giulietta should be a pleasure for driver and passengers. The interior space was devised to make it practical for everyday use, while inspiration from the 8C Competizione ensures it maintains the firms core strength of driver appeal.

The result is a car that has best-in-class headroom for tall drivers when the seat is pushed back and lowered, and is equally class topping for rear leg room. It is also ahead of its rivals for noise suppression thanks to a sound-proofing film in the windscreen, thicker side windows, and damping material to counter body vibrations.

Carefully crafted materials use subtle shades to make the interior feel light and therefore spacious. And it doesnt just look good; it feels good too thanks to enhanced ergonomics ensuring every switch is ideally located for driver access. The main switches, which share their design with the 8C Competizione, are grouped together at the centre of the dashboard for easy access.

Ahead of the driver theres a sporty three-spoke steering wheel while the seats are supple yet still supportive. To make the Giulietta easy to live with, its been crammed with storage solutions. In front of the gear lever, on the centre console and in the doors there are open compartments. There are closed compartments on top of the dashboard, under it opposite the front passenger, and in the front and rear arm rests. Depending on the model, the front storage bin can be cooled with dual-zone climate control.

Optimum

The Giulietta range is split into four trim levels: entry-level Turismo, Lusso, Veloce and Cloverleaf. Standard equipment across the range is comprehensive but a lot of thought has gone into differentiating the various models. One example is the steering wheel. Its vital for transmitting the feel of the car to the driver, so every trim level gets a different looking and progressively sportier one.

No Giulietta driver will feel short-changed when it comes to kit. The Turismo version features remote central locking and boot release, electric windows front and rear, height adjustable drivers seat, 60/40 split folding rear seats, front airbag deactivation on the passenger side, and manual air-conditioning.

From the Lusso upwards theres automatic dual-zone climate control. This system has been completely revised so that it now keeps the passenger compartment at the optimum temperature while consuming 30 per cent less fuel than a conventional system.

Lusso versions also get sports dials with white illumination, an alarm system, a steering wheel with infotainment system controls, chrome effect window sills, cruise control, and the Blue&Me hands-free system with voice recognition and media player with USB port.

Veloce specification versions add to existing Lusso equipment with side skirts, sports suspension, leather and microfibre upholstery, and 17 Turbine design alloy wheels with 225/45 R17 tyres.

Finally, top-of-the-range Cloverleaf versions add to Veloce specification with Cloverleaf badging, lowered suspension, red brake callipers, dark tinted windows and 18 Spoke design alloy wheels with a dark titanium finish and 225/40 R18 tyres.

Blue&Me is the Fiat Groups ground-breaking hands-free system that allows mobile phones and sound system to be accessed and controlled either from the steering wheel or using Bluetooth and advanced voice recognition. It is standard equipment on Lusso versions and above.

Theres a choice of two navigation systems. The Blue &Me-Tom Tom® portable navigation system which works in conjunction with Blue &Me is available as an after-sales accessory. Navigation is also available as an option employing a 6.5-inch colour screen Radio NAV that rises out of the top of the dashboard. European maps are available on an SD card to let owners travel far and wide in their Giulietta, receiving accurate route information without taking their eyes off the road.

The Giulietta is a bigger car than its predecessor and this is reflected in its luggage space. At 350 litres its on a par with its main competitors and 16 per cent bigger than the Alfa 147. Usefully, its a regular square shape and its width of 1022mm is 21 per cent up on its predecessor.

SAFETY

'“ Most comprehensive equipment in its sector
'“ Integrated safety engineering from the platform up
'“ Vast array of electronics limit potential for accidents and damage

One of the cornerstones of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta is class-leading safety. During its development the car underwent 15,000 hours of mathematical modelling, 80 crash tests, 150 tests on a HyGe slide and more than 200 tests on components and sub-systems. This has been reflected in its five-star EuroNCAP performance.

As a result every model features the most comprehensive range of safety equipment in the segment. This includes six airbags (front multi-stage, side and curtain), five three-point seat belts with double pretensioners and load limiters, a collapsible pedal unit and steering column, a second-generation anti-whiplash system, and Isofix attachments.

To absorb energy from low speed impacts and support the bumper in a collision with pedestrians, theres a third load path element. This allows the front to deform uniformly, making the car less aggressive in head-on and side-on collisions. But because engineers have used aluminium for elements surrounding the front beam, 8.5kg has been pared from the weight. The rear bumper beam and third load path energy absorption elements have been made from thermoplastic Xenoy, giving a weight reduction of 4kg compared with a more traditional solution.

Every effort has been made to prevent Giulietta drivers being involved in an accident in the first place. Thus the hydraulic power assisted braking system comprising two crossover independent circuits has been specifically designed for progressive braking with shorter stopping distances.

The size of the brakes varies according to the engine. The 120bhp 1.4-litre petrol and 105bhp 1.6-litre JTDM-2have 281mm self-ventilating front discs and cast iron floating callipers. The 170bhp 1.4-litre MultiAir and 170bhp 2.0-litre JTDM-2 engined models are fitted with 305mm self-ventilating discs and cast iron floating callipers. Each of these engine sizes is equipped with 264mm solid rear brake discs and cast iron callipers. The most powerful version in the range, the 235bhp 1750 TBi features 330mm self-ventilating front discs with aluminium fixed callipers. The rears are fitted with 278mm solid discs, again with cast iron callipers.

Sophisticated

The ABS anti-lock braking system that governs these brakes is one of the most advanced currently available. It has four active sensors and features Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) to spread braking force over all four wheels. It also adapts to the prevailing conditions, depending on grip and brake pad efficiency.

In addition to these fundamentals, every vehicle in the range features a sophisticated suite of electronics designed to reduce the chances of an accident taking place and improve occupants safety if one does.

This is spearheaded by Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC). As Alfa Romeos take on Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), this system remains in the background monitoring tyre grip in longitudinal and lateral directions, the cars yaw and the angle of the steering wheel. These are then compared with set parameters so that it can judge whether the situation is about to become unsafe.

An integral part of VDC is Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR). This employs the ABS anti-lock braking sensors to calculate the degree of slip. If it finds excessive power is causing both front wheels to slip, it decreases the throttle opening. If only one wheel is slipping the appropriate brakes are applied.

The Giuliettas VDC also works in conjunction with Dynamic Steering Torque (DST). This improves both safety and handling by working alongside the VDC to provide feedback torque through the steering wheel that helps the driver respond to critical situations before VDC intervention is needed. Combined with its Mu-Split control function (MSF) its particularly effective when, for instance, two wheels are on ice and two on tarmac.

Another of the ways the Giulietta combines safety with performance is courtesy of the braking system. The Hydraulic Brake Assistance system increases brake circuit pressure under emergency braking situations to shorten stopping distances. And the system includes a Hill Holder which automatically simulates a traditional hill start by stopping the car rolling backwards on an incline.

DESIGN

'“ Inspired by the past, designed for the future
'“ Dynamic like a coupe, practical like a saloo
'“ Innovative light show

The Alfa Romeo Giulietta is a unique blend of sportiness and style that draws inspiration from the firms rich heritage and brings it into the 21st Century. Yet despite styling which inherits much of its emotion from the 8C Competizione supercar, the Giulietta is a practical machine with excellent on-board space and comfort.

The front is typical of the new generation of Alfa Romeos, forceful but attractive with an off-set number plate and a brand new interpretation of the classic shield grille suspended between the air vents and headlights.

In profile the Giulietta has the dynamism and fluidity of a coupe, despite having all the practicality of a five door. This is further enhanced by the concealed rear door handles, muscular wheel arches and deep side skirts.

The rear is similarly beefy, giving the Giulietta the appearance of a car that really grips the road. The bumper meanwhile accommodates the number plate and depending on the version, integral exhaust tail pipes.

This is complemented by head and tail lights that employ LED technology. Compared with conventional bulbs, these lights are brighter, more reliable and dont use as much power, thereby cutting running costs. The Giulietta also features Daytime Running Lights that will become a European standard in 2012. These guarantee maximum visibility but use less energy.

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