2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta & MiTo

What’s new on the Alfa hatchbacks, and just how well does the Giulietta perform in an unplanned crash test – Oops!

By Shahzad Sheikh

2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta & MiTo

The refreshed versions of the Giulietta and MiTo were only relaunched in the Middle East less than a year ago – the big thing was the improved engines, the better quality and kit, and finally a proper double-clutch automatic transmission making them ideal for our market. They were good, and you can read my review of the Giulietta from that launch here.

2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

So it was something of a surprise to get invited to the launch of the 2014 model year cars all the way over in Milan. Nonetheless, here are the newly re-refreshed versions, and don’t they both look lovely?

We see the MiTo as a viable alternative to a Mini and the Giulietta potentially as a VW Golf-beater. So the Alfa Romeo brand is well worth your attention now in a market where perhaps it hasn’t traditionally dominated.

2014 Alfa Romeo MiTo

What is new then?

First the MiTo

There’s a new chrome-plated grille with a chrome-plated surround and a burnished front light cluster finish – on the outside, that’s it.

Inside there’s four new upholstery options and three new dashboard trims (though we’re not sure yet if all of these will be available here).

2014 Alfa Romeo MiTo

There’s also a new 0.9-litre Turbo TwinAir 105bhp, though I’m guessing we won’t be getting that as we get a 1.4 MultiAir Turbo with 135bhp which is our minimum expectation of performance.

A new infotainment system sees a 5-inch colour touchscreen souced by Continental with TomTom navigation. Obviously it gets Bluetooth and can play web radio through your smart phone.

2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

And the Giulietta

The big thing for Europe is a new diesel engine, but we’re not interested in that. Again there is a new grille and chrome-plated surrounds for the foglights at the front, with direction-adaptive LED technology for the headlights as well as day time running lights. The rears also get LEDs. Three new alloy wheel designs measuring 16, 17 and 18-inches.

2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Inside there’s a new door panel and door handle and a new insert on the central console and dashboard. Everything now gets scratch-proofing and the trims are colour-matched. The seats and the steering wheel are new, with new sports seats available in black leather/Alcantara with contrasting stitching.

2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta & MiTo

What are they like?

Well frankly these differences are very subtle and serve only to modestly enhance two already very good and desirable cars.

We did drive these cars, but none with the spec we’d get in our region and mostly on crowded city roads with a bit of motorway driving, pretty much all of it blanketed in a deluge of heavy rain. With low visibility and poor grip we were hardly able to ‘test’ the cars at all, in fact the latter caused me to come a cropper, and have my first actual ‘accident’ in something like well over 10 years!

2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Sometimes things go a bit wrong!

So the picture above is the before of the Giulietta we tested, and below you’ll see it after a bit of restyling efforts on my part…

It’s actually stupidly, horrendously embarrassing and pathetic, and I couldn’t apologise enough for ruining the beautiful lines of this little hatchback by creasing up the front and rear fenders with scratches and bruises on the bumpers and doors.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

What happened?

You won’t believe it. I still don’t.

We weren’t going at all quickly, seeing as we’d just come through a section where I’d actually turned on the fog-lights because that’s how bad the weather was. Slowing down on an off ramp, I changed down from sixth to fifth even as he coasted upwards as this single-lane ramp would take us up and across the motorway to the other side.

2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Again still going at fairly moderate speeds, I rounded the corner and started to ease back on the throttle when I found it actually tightened further. I turned in a little further but it was already too late, there was suddenly no grip whatsoever, the only excuse I can come up with is that we must have hit a greasy patch or spillage of some kind. With barely two-three feet between the car and the barrier the inevitable was about to happen.

2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Isn’t it amazing how things slow down in these sort of situations? I wouldn’t exactly call it a life-before-your-eyes moment, we were going way too slowly for that, and were fully aware that there was no danger of any injury other than to my pride. But I felt it go. I tried the throttle and brake to see if it would make any difference, it didn’t; I turned the wheel harder, but that didn’t help either.

You already know there isn’t enough room to avoid a collision, but you’re still wishing, urging, begging the bugger to stop or slow enough to give you a chance to restore traction and correct the direction change. But, alas, no…

2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

‘CRUNCH!’

It hit at the front and bounced to the back. Not just brushing, but properly bashing the barrier. And then that awful, terrible noise of folding and cracking was followed by even more repulsive sounds – that of a torrent of effusive bad language involuntarily emanating, it turned out, from mine own lips!

I daren’t stop and look (we couldn’t, not on a ramp, and there was no point – you don’t need police reports there), but I feared the worst. I reckoned the whole right side of the car was a crumpled, ripped-up, written-off hideous mess.

2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Eventually I asked my driving partner, Noel Ebdon (who was not only surprisingly composed all things considered, especially as we hit on his side of the car, but kept giggling the whole way back), to see if he could fold the mirror back in place, and he took the opportunity to stick his head out the window and survey the damage, reporting that it really wasn’t as severe as we both feared.

The fact that the car was still driving perfectly well, seemed to back that up. All of which is a testament then, to how well built, safe and crash-worthy modern cars are. Particularly this Giulietta which as a full Five-Star Euro NCAP crash safety rating. The structure simply did its job at absorbing the impact, and we were so well cushioned that we were barely shaken.

2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

It’s a horrible thing to experience and go through, particularly considering I have a pretty clean track record on testing cars, especially when you bear in mind the amount of mileage we do, across all the different types of vehicles we drive in all kinds of terrains and environments.

Credit to the good folk at Alfa Romeo though, who were marvellous about the whole thing and who’s main concern was that we were okay.

Well, there was one injury. It was to Noel’s sides. He’d split them from laughing at me so hard!

2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

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