Alfa-Giulietta-QV

The Alfa Giulietta is a clever mix of Italian style, performance and practicality, and it works well. From its name you may think this is aimed at the female market, but a car that performs this brilliantly will give any driver a lot of fun writes Ian Strachan.

And it comes with a great range of engines. My test car was powered by a sprightly 240 bhp 1.7 petrol engine.

In case you were wondering, the QV stands for Quadrifoglio Verde, the Italian name for a four-leafed clover, images of which feature in the car’s trim. It refers to the Giulietta’s environmental credentials, but you will get fed up of people asking what the Irish connection is!

But there’s no doubt this is an Italian Alfa Romeo through and through. It has bags of Mediterranean style, with the front end adorned with the distinctive Alfa grille and offset number plate. The car’s profile rises gently towards the high and chunky back end, with a big rear window, behind which is a deep and practical loadspace.

It’s equally attractive from the rear, with a high waist and subtle spoiler over the rear window.

Inside, the Alfa is – despite its practicality – a driver’s car with all effort concentrated on driver comfort and convenience. Supportive seats hug you in a cockpit which is clear and classy with easily accessible dials and controls. The front passenger seat is equally comfortable, but rear seat passengers may find themselves a bit cramped for room, particularly if they are long-legged.

But most people buy Alfa Romeos for their handling and their excellent engines. This won’t disappoint.

I drove the 1.7 TBi petrol option. This unit has sparkling bhp performance but is quiet (except when you floor it), willing and efficient, with reasonable fuel consumption of 40.4 mpg in mixed driving.

It’s a real pleasure to drive. Linked to a seamless six speed automatic gearbox the engine is smooth and unruffled. It never sounds or feels under pressure and delivers power exactly when you want it.

Ride and handling are exceptional, with crisp and positive steering response and nicely damped suspension to give a smooth ride. The Alfa’s grip on the road is never uncertain, even when cornering at speed.

Equipment levels on the QV are good, with all-round airbags, touchscreen satnav with integrated climate control and vehicle settings, electric folding wing mirrors, twin exhausts, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, electric front and rear windows, cruise control, sports suspension and tinted windows as standard.

You also get steering wheel mounted controls, leather-trimmed upholstery, nice 18 inch alloys, and front armrest with storage. My test car also had up-rated 5-hole design alloys (plus £450), cobalt blue metallic paint (plus £510), upgraded BOSE sound system (plus £820) and heated front seats (plus £260).

This is an easy car to like and I was sorry to see it go. The whole thing, without the options, comes at £28,120 on the road.

Motoring Reviews are bought to you courtesy of Midlands Business News and its Motoring Editor Ian Strachan of Ian Strachan Communications