Overview: Alfa Romeo Giulietta

The recently introduced 140PS diesel derivative, and the 170PS 1.4-litre Multi-air petrol version with Fiat’s TCT gearbox, are included in the data tables at the bottom of this article.

At the end of last year, Alfa Romeo announced its new Giulietta — a completely new car on a completely new platform.

There have been two previous Giuliettas, and like them the new car has a contemporary look and a promise of sporting appeal. Unlike them, though, it is comparatively conventional mechanically. Alfa Romeo is a volume manufacturer, part of Fiat, sharing its parent’s parts bin. The Giulietta’s new C-segment platform, which we have described elsewhere, will soon form the basis for assorted Fiats, Lancias — even Chryslers.

The first Giulietta appeared in 1954, with a remarkable 1290cc all-alloy twin-cam engine under the bonnet. Power outputs ranged from 54PS to an astonishing 91PS; low-volume specials delivered as much as 118PS.

Something over twenty years later, the second incarnation of the Giulietta appeared. Strikingly styled inside and out, and boasting a rear-mounted transaxle for handling balance, the model fell far short of its potential. Alfa Romeo’s awful reputation for unreliability and rust in the seventies and eighties saw to that.

The latest car to wear a Giulietta badge appeared nearly thirty years after its predecessor was phased out. Alfa Romeo is part of the Fiat Group now, a combine that owns not only Alfa Romeo but two other illustrious marques — Lancia and Ferrari. But Fiat has been struggling for years to climb out of the bottom five per cent. of the J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey, and it’s with great emphasis that Alfa Romeo declares the Giulietta to have been ‘designed to beat the best in the mid-size C segment,’ and that ‘that’s 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.’ Quite.

In fact, the more you read Alfa Romeo’s press release for the new car, the clearer becomes Alfa Romeo’s place within the Fiat Group. There are phrases that say so much about the Giulietta’s sales potential among a broad customer base — the Giulietta, suggests Alfa Romeo, is the car that has everything — the car for everyone. Alfa Romeo’s history of advanced engineering is something that’s been forgotten. The engineering these days is the Fiat Group’s, and it’s a shared resource. And while Fiat’s technical skills are probably the equal of any other mass manufacturer’s, that’s as far as it goes.

Engines

There are five engines — three petrol and two diesel. All of them are turbocharged, and all comply with Euro 5 emissions standards.

The petrol engines’ outputs are very much in line with the current generation of variously-supercharged small petrol units. The 1.4-litre offers 120PS in standard form or 170PS with Fiat’s Multi Air valve control. By comparison, the Volkswagen Group’s 1390cc TSI engines (which use two superchargers — one mechanical, one exhaust-driven) deliver variously 122PS, 160PS and 180PS in different trims.

The most powerful petrol engine in the range is the 1750 TBi at 235PS. It is directly fuelled, using seven-hole injectors, and lines up the usual suspects of twin overhead camshafts and variable valve timing on both camshafts. What is more notable is that this engine uses its blower to achieve a degree of scavenging — using supercharging of the intake air in combination with valve overlap to flush residual combustion products out of the cylinder. Another result of this process is a flow of supercharged intake air directly into the exhaust manifold, which increases the gas pressure acting on the turbocharger — not a perpetual-motion machine, but a trick that Alfa Romeo claims reduces turbo lag and fattens the torque curve.

Pininfarina’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider, 1955-1962.

The 1.4-litre Multi-Air petrol engine uses Fiat’s valve-lift control system and a fixed geometry turbocharger. Fiat claims that applying Multi-Air control to an engine boosts power by 10 per cent. and torque by 15 per cent., while cutting fuel consumption and emissions by 10 per cent.

The diesel engines (known as JTDM-2 or Multijet II) also square up neatly with the competition. The 105PS engine, for instance, has identical bore, stroke and power output as the Volkswagen 1.6 TDI (see bottom table), though the Fiat engine wins on torque. The 2.0-litre diesel, with 170PS and 320Nm, is similarly competitive: to take a couple of examples at random, Volvo’s two-litre delivers 163PS and 400Nm, while PSA’s engine offers 160PS and 340Nm. The Fiat unit does have one trick up its sleeve: its overboost function allows the unit to deliver 350Nm for a short burst, though that’s still well adrift of the Volvo unit’s resounding 400Nm.

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 in an effort to reduce energy wastage.

All of the Giulietta’s engines use a stop-start system, with the exception of the 1750 TBi. This seems a puzzling decision: fitting the system would have reduced fuel consumption over the official test cycle, and the engines that do have it are fitted with an override switch allowing the driver to dispense with the system if it causes annoyance. Perhaps its omission was a weight-saving measure.

All engines come with a manual six-speed gearbox, from a new family of three-rail transmissions; all cars come with gearshift indicators. From early 2011, a dual-clutch transmission will become available with the 1.4-litre MultiAir 170PS petrol and two-litre 170PS Multijet diesel engines.

The car’s Vehicle Dynamic Control system manages the car’s ‘dynamic’ functions — the hill holder; traction control and emergency braking; the MSR system, which prevents wheels from losing traction when the throttle is released; the DST (Dynamic Steering Torque) system; electronic Q2, which electronically simulates a limited-slip differential; and the brand-new pre-fill braking system, which applies a slight pressure to the braking circuits when the accelerator pedal is released, decreasing braking response times.

Fiat’s new ‘Compact’ platform, on which the Giulietta sits, is one of the new wave of structures designed with an appreciable proportion of the prototyping and physical testing process replaced by computer simulations. This is not as alarming as it sounds, as it is the earlier stages of the development process that are carried out by computer. Components and assemblies are designed, tested to destruction by computer simulation, redesigned and tested again until a robust component emerges. Only then is workshop time committed to making the part and track time given to testing it. Because computer simulation is a much faster method of testing a component, the earlier development stages can be significantly accelerated.

But there is still plenty of real-life testing. The Giulietta was subjected to 150 Hyge slide shock test simulations and more than 80 crash tests — frontal impact, side impact, roll-over and shunting, at various speeds and using different types of obstacles. Interestingly, Alfa Romeo highlights its efforts to protect occupants physically very different from one another. Redoubtable Italian matriachs and their elegant daughters, perhaps?

We’ve covered the Giulietta’s safety features in more depth here.

Dynamics

The Giulietta’s new platform will underpin all future Fiat Group mid-size vehicles. It has a high degree of ‘modularity’ for use in different applications.

Fiat has stated its modest aims for the platform: it should be ranked best-in-class for handling, steering feel, performance-to-weight ratio, ride comfort, NVH, active and passive safety and climatic comfort. This is the sort of all-encompassing ambition that we expect of a mainstream manufacturer intent on taking on all comers, but of course it doesn’t preclude dynamic talent: the Ford Focus and Fiesta have proved that you can start with a straightforward mechanical layout and still build a car that’s rewarding to drive. As, for that matter, did every humble Peugeot built in the 1980s.

In police uniform: Alfa Romeo Nuova Giulietta, 1977-1983.

Alfa Romeo sees the Giulietta as offering two different types of driving experience. The Turismo (entry-level) and Lusso models sit on a ‘comfort’ chassis, while the Veloce and Cloverleaf have a more sport-orientated set-up. The Cloverleaf additionally has its ride-height lowered by 10mm.

Ninety per cent. of the new platform’s structure has been built using what Alfa Romeo describes as high-strength materials. The few components that have been carried over from previous models have been revised to improve performance and reduce the car’s kerb mass. The Giulietta is 1.5 per cent. heavier than its smaller, less well-equipped predecessor, the 147.

Weight-saving measures include a magnesium dashboard support — saving 6kg — the use of a plastic support for the pedal board and a plastic clutch pedal — 3kg lost here — and a new rear seat back that employs thermoplastics in both structure and cushions — 7kg lost. Aluminium has been used in the McPherson front suspension pillars, making them 8kg lighter than the 147’s. At the rear, a multi-link arrangement for wheel location has been used. The rear wishbones and rear cross-member are constructed from aluminium.

Fiat Group Multi-Air engine: Hydraulic units are in red, as is hydraulic gallery to valve actuator. For detailed graphics, see bottom of page.

The electric power steering system is new. It deploys 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 three per cent. compared to a regular hydraulic set-up, gives variable assistance depending on driving conditions, and — significantly — allows the steering to be controlled by the car’s electronic systems. In other words, the car can feed torque into the steering column to ‘assist’ the driver.

The new platform has been designed to incorporate a variety of different electronic systems. The driver’s interaction with these control systems is Alfa Romeo’s ‘DNA’ control, which is fitted as standard across the range. This allows the driver a modicum of control over the way in which the engine, brakes, steering, suspension, electronic differential and (with automated transmissions) gearbox respond to driving conditions.

There are three driving modes. Dynamic mode gives sharper handling — by way of firmer damping — and a more lively response to the accelerator. Normal mode is described as being ‘for the urban environment’: damping and accelerator response are softer. There is also an All-Weather mode for maximum safety when traction is poor.

Normal mode is designed for relaxed driving. This offers a discreet level of Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Dynamic Steering Torque that controls oversteer. Switching to Dynamic mode, the VDC and Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR) become less intrusive, the engine is made more responsive, steering assistance is reduced, and the Q2 electronic differential is enabled. Q2 works in conjunction with the Vehicle Dynamic Control, using 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 steering senses lateral acceleration: when this rises above 0.6g, steering assistance is reduced to provide greater feel and perceived accuracy.

DNA’s Dynamic setting also activates the pre-fill braking function, which we have mentioned above. This system was designed to give the brake pedal the feel of a racing car. It recognises that the driver might be about to brake when the accelerator is released, and increases the pressure inside the braking system by between five and seven bars (500-700kPa). This reduces pedal travel by 30 per cent. and provides quicker braking response.

On its third setting, All-Weather, DNA makes the Anti-Slip Regulation more responsive.

Any other business

Lusso versions and above come fitted with a system called Blue & Me. This is the Fiat Group’s hands-free system that brings together mobile phones and the car’s sound system, allowing them to be controlled either from the steering wheel or using Bluetooth and voice recognition.

There’s a choice of two navigation systems. The Blue & Me / Tom Tom portable navigation system is available as an after-sales accessory. Alternatively, you can order your car with a built-in system, using a 6½-inch colour screen radio-nav that rises out of the top of the dashboard. European maps are available on an SD card.

For detailed graphics, see bottom of page.

Alfa Romeo
Giulietta
1.4 TB
120
1.4 TB Multi-Air
170
1750 TBi
235
1.6 JTDM-2
105
2.0 JTDM-2
140
2.0 JTDM-2
170
Cylinders 4 4 4 4 4 4
Valves 4 4 4 4 4
Bore/stroke 72.0/84.0 72.0/84.0 83.0/80.5 79.5/80.5 83.0/90.4 83.0/90.4
Swept volume 1368cc 1368cc 1742cc 1598cc 1956cc 1956cc
Compression
ratio
9.8:1 9.8:1 9.25:1 16.5:1 16.5:1 16.5:1
PS/rpm 120/5000 170/5500 235/5500 105/4000 140/4000 170/4000
Nm/rpm 206/1750 230/2250 (1)
250/2500 (2)
300/4500 (1)
340/1900 (2)
280/1500 (1)
320/1750 (2)
320/1500 (1)
350/1750 (2)
320/1500 (1)
350/1750 (2)
Maximum speed 121 135 150 115 126 135
0-100km/h 9.4 7.8 6.8 11.3 9.0 8.0
Urban MPG
(l/100km)
33.6
(8.4)
36.2
(7.8)
26.2
(10.8)
51.4
(5.5)
50.4
(5.6)
48.7
(5.8)
Combined MPG
(l/100km)
44.1
(6.4)
48.7
(5.8)
37.2
(7.6)
64.2
(4.4)
62.7
(4.5)
60.1
(4.7)
CO2 g/km 148 134 177 114 119 124
Emissions EU5 EU5 EU5 EU5 EU5 EU5
Transmission M6 M6 (AM6) M6 M6 M6 M6
Driven wheels Front Front Front Front Front Front
Fuel tank 60l 60l 60l 60l 60l 60l
Kerb mass * 1280 1290 1320 1310 1320 1320
PS/t 93 131 178 80 106 128
Nm/t 160 178 (1)
193 (2)
227 (1)
257 (2)
213 (1)
244 (2)
242 (1)
265 (2)
242 (1)
265 (2)
Length 4351 4351 4351 4351 4351 4351
Width 1798 1798 1798 1798 1798 1798
Height 1465 1465 1465 1465 1465 1465
Wheelbase 2634 2634 2634 2634 2634 2634
Track: front
Track: rear
1554
1554
1554
1554
1554
1554
1554
1554
1554
1554
1554
1554
† Brakes: front
 — rear
281v
264
305v
264
330v
278
281v
264
305v
264
305v
264
Cd 0.31 0.31 0.31 0.31 0.31 0.31
* DIN. EU kerb mass = DIN + 75kg.
(1) ‘Normal’ driving mode; (2) ‘Dynamic’ driving mode.
† Disc diameter; v=ventilated.
Alfa Romeo
Giulietta
1.4 TB 170 Multi-air
TCT
Cylinders 4
Valves 4
Bore/stroke 72.0/84.0
Swept volume 1368cc
Compression
ratio
9.8:1
PS/rpm 170/5500
Nm/rpm 230/2250 (1)
250/2500 (2)
Maximum speed 134
0-100km/h 7.7
Urban MPG
(l/100km)
42.1
(6.7)
CO2 g/km 121
Transmission
— 1
— 2
— 3
— 4
— 5
— 6
— R
— Final drive
AM6
4.154
2.269
1.435
0.978
0.754
0.622
4.000
4.118
Kerb mass * 1310
PS/t 129
Nm/t 175 (1)
190 (2)
Length 4351
Width 1798
Height 1465
Wheelbase 2634
Track: front
Track: rear
1554
1554
Cd 0.31
* DIN. EU kerb mass = DIN + 75kg.
(1) ‘Normal’ driving mode; (2) ‘Dynamic’ driving mode.
Alfa Romeo
Giulietta
1.6 JTDM-2
105
Audi
A3
TDI 105
BMW
116d
Renault
Mégane
1.5 dCi 106
Cylinders 4 4 4 4
Valves 4 4 4 2
Bore/stroke 79.5/80.5 79.5/80.5 84.0/90.0 76.0/80.5
Swept volume 1598cc 1598cc 1995cc 1461cc
Compression
ratio
16.5:1 16.5:1 16.5:1 15.3:1
PS/rpm 105/4000 105/4400 115/4000 106/4000
Nm/rpm 280/1500 (1)
320/1750 (2)
250/1500 260/1750 240/2000
Maximum speed 115 121 123 118
0-100km/h 11.3 11.4 10.3 10.9
Urban MPG
(l/100km)
51.4
(5.5)
56.5
(5.0)
53.3
(5.3)
51.4
(5.5)
CO2 g/km 114 109 118 120
Transmission M6 M5 M6 M6
Kerb mass * 1310 1280 1305 1215
PS/t 80 82 88 87
Nm/t 213 (1)
244 (2)
195 199 197
Length 4351 4238 4239 4295
Width 1798 1765 1748 1808
Height 1465 1421 1421 1471
Wheelbase 2634 2578 2660 2640
Track: front
Track: rear
1554
1554
1534
1507
1484
1497
1546
1547
CdA 0.31x2.13 0.30x2.09 0.31x2.21
* DIN. EU kerb mass = DIN + 75kg.
(1) ‘Normal’ driving mode; (2) ‘Dynamic’ driving mode.
Text and design copyright © Under the Skin 2010. We recommend Firefox.