I have solemnly sworn to not mention the words “soul” or “passion” even once in a review of an Italian car. With the new Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifolgio Verde hot hatchback, it’s an easy promise to keep. This Alfa is devoid of either.
A quick bit of history. The “Quadrifoglio Verde” boot badge comes from the emblem Alfa’s original racing greats painted on their cars for good luck. Fast-forward to 2014 and the Giulietta QV is really going to need some of that four-leaf clover fortune to take on a set of modern, sophisticated rivals.
The sporty version does, however, have some substance. Lurking up front is the very same 240hp, 1.75-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine and dual-clutch gearbox that powers the firm’s exotic carbonfibre 4C sports car. In Alfa’s mini Ferrari the engine may fall short of expectations, but here, in the Giulietta QV, it seems more appropriate.
However, mounting the motor in the nose of the car brings in a new dimension. In the 4C it’s right behind your ears, bringing characterful coughs, chuffs and sighs in the two-seater.
In compensation, the Giulietta has a system that makes the engine note sound like a classic Alfa Romeo of the 1960s. It works rather well. There’s no electronic trickery, just the manipulation of moving air to make it sound deep and fulsome lower down, and raspy and racy as the revs rise.
So far so good. There’s a decent turn of speed, too, with the paddleshift gearbox and F1-style launch control (great for getaways in congested city traffic), cutting the 0-62mph time to 6.0 seconds dead.
Yet while these numbers are impressive on paper, the experience behind the wheel doesn’t quite match up. If you really want to go Golf GTI chasing, you have to push a bit harder, and that’s where the Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde comes unstuck.
Drivers with a chiropractor on speed dial should look elsewhere: the Giulietta is very firm, even if the suspension does round off jarring edges from city potholes surprisingly well. Go faster, though, and you’ll discover this veneer of accomplishment is thin.
Why is this important? Well, the Alfa is a hot hatchback and so has to do many things. The Quadrifoglio Verde should be able to run the children to school or pop to the shops just as easily as it can be hurled down a country road. Especially at this price.
The Giulietta QV costs an edgy £30,280. Ok, so that figure is for the special Launch Edition model that benefits from a few carbonfibre body trinkets – including some side “miniskirts” – different wheels and three special paint options, and so on. But even the regular QV comes in at a fairly steep £28,120. A five-door paddleshift Golf GTI is only £280 more expensive and feels much more of a car.
And then there’s the interior. The Giulietta’s basic design is palatable but bland, and the in-car tech isn’t up to scratch. The real problems, however, are the scratchy plastics and poor finishing in some areas. It’s way off being as slick as its German rivals.
So unfortunately for Alfa Romeo, apart from the still attractive exterior, the Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde fails to delight in any single dimension.
It’s penne e olio, pasta and olive oil. Fine on the odd occasion, but when you’ve got something tastier on offer, it doesn’t quite cut it.
Sean Carson works for motoringresearch.com.