For all of Alfa Romeo’s rich and storied history, the brand was in the dumps back in 2010 when its Giulietta arrived globally back in 2010 and locally early the following year. The small hatchback was positioned as an Audi A3 rival and, with much hype, was charged with shaking off the Italian’s then baked-in stigma for poor reliability and a lack of spirited genes.
The Giulietta, that effectively replaced the 146, was supposed to Alfa Romeo’s renaissance. In some ways it hit the mark, in styling, its willing chassis and vibe filled with Italian classicisms. In others, such as quality and, yes, reliability and areas such as cabin ergonomics, the hatch left the gates as an also-ran against German rivals it competed against.
A reboot of an old nameplate, in hope of lighting fire under the hardcore Alfisti traditionalists, the five-door Giulietta launched in two guises.
The top dog 1750 TBi version wore the famed Quadrifoglio Verde or ‘QV’ (aka, four-clover leaf) designation, was powered by an evocative 1.75-litre turbocharged petrol four, was dripping with charisma and, at $42k as a manual only, had Volkswagen Golf GTI firmly in its cross-hairs.
Sat under the QV was the regular version, initially called the Distinctive, powered by a 1.4 TB MultiAir turbo petrol four. Used buyers shouldn’t sleep on the 1.4 versions: it’s a cracker of an engine but as you will read, can be riddled with issues. At $37k, the base version was priced around the entry point for premium European small hatches.
Both versions came as six-speed only in its launch year, with DNA drive mode trickery and a Q2 electronic differential for exclusive front-drive format. Both were handsome lookers, the QV styling marked by larger dark-finish 18-inch wheel, lowered stance and signature QV badging.
Inside, each boasts clear retro leanings with oh-so Italian touches, right down to instrument labelling, and the flagship’s leather seats were wonderful. But it was also critically panned for its cheap and flimsy make-up in areas and some of its features were and are quite fragile.
Pace wise, the QV was claimed, at 6.8sec 0-100km/h, to be one second quicker to march, thought the 1.4’s advertised 5.6L/100km frugality was much better than the QV’s still-handy 7.6L although we have found both engines are far thirstier then what Alfa would lead you to believe. But, really, you bought into the drive, and the Giulietta offered sharp steering and frisky dynamics with reasonably polished ride, so there’s enough fun factor in its step to live up to its spirited looks.
For 2012, Alfa Romeo started offering a choice of a ‘TCT’-branded six-speed dual-clutch transmission, starting from $39k behind the petrol 1.4. A Giulietta JTD-M also arrived powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four, priced at $42k with the dual-clutch auto with similar performance (7.9sec) and fuel economy (5.3L) to the 1.4s.
In mid-2013, the line-up added a new Progression nameplate sat under the Distinctive but above a new cut-priced, no-name base version (from $24,550) powered by a more modest version of the 1.4 engine. Pricing for the Progression ranged from $27k-ish for the 1.4 manual to $33k-ish for the oiler JTD-M auto.
In 2015, the QV got a newer-generation engine shared with the 4C sportscar that upped power to 177kW while adding the option of a dual-clutch auto to create three versions: the manual ($39k), the Auto ($42k) and the confusing named Launch Edition ($45k with an auto) that could be had with trendy matte paintwork, if only offered in 25 units.
The QV was now quicker (6.0sec) with as an auto and with launch control fitted. And also more frugal (7.0L) than before. A new Uconnect 6.5-inch multimedia system was also added at this key update that also brought subtly refreshed styling inside and out for MY15.
In late 2015, Alfa Romeo reprised the Sprint badge that, with 110kW 1.4 power and at $31k, slotted between the Progression and Distinction. Around here, the base engine upped power and torque and the no-name entry variant was dropped.
The Italian marque kept refreshing and re-firing the Giulietta throughout its lifecycle, dipping again into its heritage name bag to present the Veloce in October 2016, with QV running gear and the old QV pricing ($42k). The Super dropped to $30k and effectively replaced the then-axed Progression.
A limited 30-unit run of Veloce S versions, at $45k-ish, hit showrooms in mid 2019, but by April 2020 the Italian marque announced with would axe Giulietta, which would eventually be replaced by the Tonale small SUV.
The small hatchback range’s swansong was the Edizione Finale, a Veloce with what was quoted as six grand’s worth of extra goodies, released in May 2021 with just 35 examples offered at a price of around $49k.