Alfa Romeo remains an iconic brand and, in recent years, the Giulietta and MiTo hatches have faithfully served fans of this illustrious marque, but undoubtedly some sparkle has been lacking. Then the 4C sportscar arrived and accelerated the Alfa name back into the consciousness of petrolheads all over... but at an eye-watering cost!
So... what to do if you want your Giulietta with some 4C gusto? Enter a rather special Alfa Romeo Giulietta... Its full name is the Alfa Romeo 1750 Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde Squadra Corse TCT. What a mouthful! You have to love the Italians for being so patriotic. Everything in Italian sounds better anyway... Squadra Corse essentially means "race team" and this gives you some idea of what this car is all about.
South Africa Only Limited EditionIt's a South Africa-only model and will be produced in limited numbers. 100 units are planned for a staggered release which means about 10 will reach the Alfa Romeo dealer network each month. Visually, a lot has been done to separate the Squadra Corse from its siblings. There's a bold body kit consisting of side skirts, a carbon fibre rear spoiler as well as a lovely rear diffuser with larger than usual exhaust outlets. You also get some decals and Squadra Corse stickers on the flanks. I suspect the suspension has been fractionally lowered too, which gives it a better stance and could marginally improve handling.
The Giulietta Squadra Corse certainly looks the part, but are there any improvements on performance? The answer is yes and there's been some substantial work done on that front. With an electronic remap and a completely decatted custom sports exhaust, this car offers a bit more grunt than the normal Giulietta. Alfa Romeo SA claims an output of 210kW, which is 33kW more than the standard car. The torque figure is unknown, but I estimate there should be around 370Nm.
Do the hardware upgrades translate into a monster gain in performance? The short answer is no. For a car wielding over 200kW, I was expecting a bit more shove. Don't get me wrong, this Giulietta is still devishly quick when the engine is in Dynamic mode, but it does not feel quite like there is 210kW under the bonnet. It sounds like there is, though... The sound from that reworked exhaust is definitely worth talking about. Alfa Romeo says its a 'harmonically tuned' unit and it truly sounds incredible.
Most four-cylinder engines have a distinct mechanical thrum to them, which has necessitated manufacturers to either induce a gearshift pop like the Volkswagen Audi Group S-tronic/DSG, or artificially create an in-car noise through the audio system a la Ford ST. Alfa Romeo has made this car sound demonic. It's impossible to go anywhere quietly and cold morning start ups are particularly unsubtle. There's a distinct induction bark, followed by the mandatory twin-clutch gearshift noise and a lovely fizz from the turbo's wastegate.
Ride and DriveOn the road, the Squadra Corse turns heads. Actually, people hear it coming long before they see it. The six-speed TCT gearbox is a little sluggish in first and second gear, particularly in Normal mode, but engage Dynamic and use the steering wheel mounted paddles. Increase the speed and things improve. The ride is firm, as is to be expected from a vehicle of this nature but the car soaks up imperfections well. While the handling is good, it's not as precise a driving weapon as a RenaultSport Megane, but the Alfa Romeo responds well when pressing on. Steering feedback is direct and pleasant, while Brembo brakes do a fine job of bringing the car to a halt.
The Giulietta comes with a decent amount of kit and the highlight for me has to be the Uconnect infotainment system which offers Bluetooth and USB connectivity. It's a smart, sleek unit that works well. There's also climate control, cruise control, steering wheel mounted controls for audio as well as park distance control at the front and rear. Worthy of a mention too are the excellent and supportive Giulietta-branded leather seats.
Squadra Corse Summary and VerdictThe Squadra Corse retails for R466 400, R40 000 more than the standard Giulietta QV. While it may not feel overtly faster than its sibling, its looks and accompanying soundtrack will win many fans. It may not offer the complete package that is a Volkswagen Golf GTI, but the Alfa Romeo Giulietta offers a lot more personality, character and charm. It also happens to look and sound a lot better too. While it's not perfect, I applaud Alfa Romeo SA for making this car and if the demand is anything to go by, the Squadra Corse will be a success.
Firstly, if you're hoping to read here that Alfa Romeo has built a Golf GTI slayer, then you will be disappointed. This Giulietta is not nearly as refined or precise as that German champion. No... what we have here is a car for someone who is not interested in Nurburgring lap times, but who rather craves something unique and memorable. On that front this Giulietta delivers by the bucketload. Every drive results in sensory overload. Take one test drive and you'll know whether it is for you, or not. - Hannes Oosthuizen
We Like: Looks, incredible noise, rare and exclusive
We Don’t Like: Doesn't feel as fast as it should, sluggish gearbox at slow speeds, rear legroom is a little tight
Also consider: Volkswagen Golf GTI, Renault Megane RS