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Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2014 2.0 JTDM-2 road test

  • Alfa’s mid-sized hatch updated for 2014
  • New equipment and 2.0-litre diesel engine
  • On sale 2014, prices to be confirmed

For 2014, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta has been given a light refresh. It’s not quite a facelift – the changes are too mild for that – but it does feature an expanded kit list, a new diesel engine and reshaped seats.

It also looks a bit different on the outside, though you’ll have to look closely to spot the differences. A slightly different grille, chrome-plated surrounds for the fog lights and some different alloy wheel designs are the main alterations.

Top of the new equipment list are two different touchscreen multimedia systems, the more expensive of which (tested here) includes sat-nav. Alloy wheels and DAB radio are standard across the range from early 2014 too.

We’ve been driving the car with the aforementioned new engine in Italy to find out what it’s like.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2014

New diesel offers low emissions

The biggest news is a new 2.0-litre diesel engine called the JTDM 2.  With almost 150bhp, it sits below the existing 168bhp 2.0-litre JTDM in the range and offers decent efficiency figures thanks to an updated fuel injection system. Alfa says it’ll manage 56mpg on average and emit a tidy 110g/km of CO2, which means very cheap road tax.

It’s matched to the standard six-speed manual gearbox. If you want an auto you’ll need to go for the 168bhp engine instead.

It sounds rather thrashy at high revs but settles down to become pleasantly quiet in higher gears on dual carriageways, while a hefty 380Nm of torque means there’s ample performance on tap to make progress.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2014 touch screen

Touchscreen multimedia system

The new ‘Uconnect’ combined radio and navigation unit is rather less impressive. Operated via either a 6.5-inch touchscreen or voice commands, it includes 3D maps along with Bluetooth and USB connectivity– all useful features, but the navigation system in particular is confusing to operate and slow to react at times.

It looks nice though, as does the rest of the interior. It’s been spruced up a bit for 2014 with a new steering wheel design and different trim pieces on the dashboard and door panels. All are easy on the eye, so it’s a shame the quality and ergonomics don’t feel up to scratch.

Various switches and controls have a brittle feel, in particular the stiff switches to adjust the electric mirrors and the release handle to adjust the steering column, which moves abruptly with a jarring action. Small niggles, but they add up to make the interior feel less premium than you’d hope.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta interior

Comfier seats than before

The seats are also new for 2014 with deeper cushions than before. They are very comfortable and well-suited to long journeys but, like the rest of the cabin, they’re not without an ergonomic flaw or two.

If you want to adjust the backrest, for example, you need to jam your hand between the car’s body and the seatbelt anchor to access the handle required to do so – tricky in the passenger seat but even more so on the driver’s side.

Also annoying is the lack of interior storage space; there’s not really a handy place to put your phone while it’s charging, for instance.

Should you buy one?

The new updates haven’t changed a great deal: the Alfa Romeo Giulietta is still an average-to-good car that has a few too many flaws to compete with the best in its class and isn’t quite characterful enough to look past them.

That said, it’s one of the more attractive looking mid-sized hatches out there and it has the emotive Alfa badge on its nose. If that’s all you’re looking for then you’ll find a car that drives adequately well and, with the new engine, offers competitive emissions and fuel consumption too.

The updated models go on sale in the first quarter of 2014. Prices are still being finalised but the higher kit levels mean we can expect an increase of two to three percent.

You can read more about the car in our full Alfa Romeo Giulietta review here.

Also consider:

Ford Focus

Better to drive than the Giulietta if not as nice to look at. Wide range of kit and engines available. The 2.0-litre TDCi engined version averages a claimed 57mpg and emits 124g/km CO2.

Volkswagen Golf

Less character than the Alfa but a better product. The 2.0-litre TDI emits 106g/km CO2 and averages a claimed 68mpg.

Vauxhall Astra

Hardly exciting but a solid choice. Huge range of trims and engines can be confusing but the 165bhp 2.0-litre CDTi 16V ecoFLEX engine in SE trim emits 119g/km CO2 and averages a claimed 62mpg.