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Alfa Romeo Giulietta Distinctive QV Line

 

There’s now a $2000 option package that will make your standard Alfa Romeo Giulietta look almost exactly like the QV flagship. Great idea or just plain embarrassing?

Base price: $44,990 (Distinctive base model $42,990).

Powertrain and performance: 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four, 125kW/250Nm, 6-speed automated twin-clutch transmission (TCT), front-drive, Combined economy 5.1 litres per 100km, 0-100km/h 7.6 seconds.

Vital statistics: 4351mm long, 1465mm high, luggage capacity 350 litres, fuel tank 60 litres, 18-inch alloy wheels on 225/40 tyres.

We like: Keen price of QV Line package, standard Giulietta still quite sporty.

We don’t like: A bit pretentious perhaps, undermines genuine QV model, jerky gearbox.

How it rates: 7/10

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? Take a look at the pictures of this Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Now take a closer look.

What you see isn’t necessarily what you get with this model. We’ve already tested the performance flagship of the Giulietta range, the QV. This isn’t it, despite the styling detail and QV badging on the front guards.

No, this is the more mainstream Giulietta Distinctive model, fitted with the $2000 QV Line option package. Pretty convincing, right? It gains a QV-alike body kit with tinted lights and windows, blacked-out grille and mirrors, 18-inch wheels, lowered (by 10mm) sports suspension and red brake calipers. Doesn’t get the real QV’s chunky bumpers, though.

Inside, the QV Line gets a special dash panel, darker lining, a flat-bottom steering wheel and sports pedals.

So yes, you could easily be accused of trying too hard with a QV Line-enhanced Giulietta. The big question is whether the Distinctive is sporting enough on its own terms to justify such dressing up.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? The Distinctive 1.4-litre turbo engine is certainly no match for the genuine QV’s powerplant, which is derived from the 4C sports car. But it’s crisp and engaging in its own right, with excellent low-speed power delivery and enough sparkle up top to be interesting.

As with all Giulietta models, it’s the two-pedal twin clutch transmission (TCT) that might be the sticking point. It’s less than fluid at low speed and you need to drive like an Italian to get the snappy gearchanges that are supposed to be the forte of dual-clutch transmissions.

You can alter the powertrain with the DNA (dynamic, natural, all-weather) switch, but that tends to be a case of all or nothing. It’s a bit too lazy in N, but too aggressive in D. Unless you’re really pressing on, in which case the abrupt responses and Q2 electronic differential really make for a lively drive.

The chassis is good, though. The Giulietta turns in with alacrity and encourages spirited cornering. In that respect it’s actually better controlled than the much more rapid QV, which has the power to overwhelm the handling ability at times. The QV-Line package is not all about show: the lowered suspension gives the car a bit more cornering ability than the unadorned model, even if it comes at some expense to ride quality.

Interesting to note that the standard Giulietta is only 0.1 litre per 100km more economical than the QV, despite being 1.6 seconds slower to 100km/h. But 5.1 l/100km is an impressive figure regardless.

IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? The Giulietta was launched in 2010 and is very near the end of its model life. So anything that can be done to spruce up the cabin is welcome. It’s still stylish and full of character, but feeling a bit old-hat in terms of ergonomics and electronic systems.

The addition of the excellent UConnect information and entertainment touch-screen at the last facelift was welcome. The extra glamour of the QV-Line package does give the cabin a lift: nice sports-style steering wheel, changes to the dashboard and darker trim.

As previously reported, some of the cabin details and packaging are still poorly thought-out: the lonely position of the USB input on the dashboard, the hard-to-reach seatback adjustments, the lack of minor storage, the modestly sized boot.

There’s a lot to love about an Alfa Romeo, but with this one you have to endure some compromises in terms of practicality.

SHOULD I BUY ONE? The Giulietta we’ve already evaluated as a flawed but appealing machine. That hasn’t changed. So what of the QV Line option package: snazzy dress-up or just plain embarrassing?

In some respects it’s a shame to undermine the real QV hot-hatch with such an offering. But if you do want to sex-up your standard Giulietta without going all the way to the point-and-squirt QV, the QV Line isn’t a bad way to do it. The Giulietta is far from perfect, but it is quite sporty even in its standard form. And the QV Line package bring a lot of style and equipment for the asking price of $2000.

EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST

  • Air conditioning: Dual climate
  • Audio: CD, iPod compatible
  • Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
  • Blind spot warning: No
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Cruise control: Yes
  • Driver footrest: Yes
  • Head-up display: No
  • Heated/ventilated seats: No
  • Keyless entry/start: No
  • Lane guidance: No
  • Leather upholstery: Yes
  • Parking radar: Yes
  • Power boot or tailgate: No
  • Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/driver
  • Rear ventilation outlets: No
  • Remote audio controls: Yes
  • Satellite navigation: Yes
  • Seat height adjustment: Yes
  • Self-parking technology: No
  • Split/folding rear seats: 60/40
  • Steering reach adjustment: Yes
  • Stop-start: Yes
  • Trip computer: Yes

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