Anyone who read my road test of the Alfa Romeo Guilietta JTD
would probably have come away with the impression that I really wanted to like the car, but was struggling with four aspects that dulled the appeal.
I was unhappy with the driving position, the engine, the handling and a rather notchy gearbox, to be precise.
Well, I am glad to say, I have just driven the antidote. It came in the form of the Alfa Romeo Guilietta 1.4 Multiair TCT.
Fitted with the Alfa Romeo TCT six-speed double-clutch semi-automatic transmission, the TCT does away with the pesky clutch pedal which is too close to the centre console. It also seemed like the fractionally short legroom had been fixed.
Whatever, the overcrowding around the driving position is transformed. It’s still not ideal, perhaps, but pretty good.That’s one complaint sorted.
Next, the engine. With the JTD, my disappointment was down to sound quality and the lack of punch. After all, an Alfa Romeo should be sporty and it should also sound good – preferably with a hint of rasp from the exhaust.
The good news is that the Guilietta 1.4 Multiair TCT sounds better and goes better.That’s the second complaint sorted.
The third issue was the handling and how it seemed as though the suspension had not been tweaked to cope with the heavier diesel engine.
Sure enough the Guilietta 1.4 Multiair TCT felt noticeably more nimble and more composed. So that is third complaint sorted.
The fourth issue was fairly minor, but I found the gearchange on the JTD a bit notchy and occasionally obstructive.
The Guilietta 1.4 Multiair TCT has a comprehensive answer to this problem. It doesn’t have a conventional gearchange!So, I guess that’s the fourth complaint sorted!
The result of annihilating these four issues is the feeling that this is car that I should have been driving, back in 2011.
If you are tempted to sneer at the thought of a 1.4-litre with sporting aspirations, where have you been for the past couple of years? The trend to downsize to smaller turbocharged engines has been driven by the desire for lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions. Like the others, the 1.4TB is quite a revelation. Power output is 170 bhp and that propels the Guilietta to 62 mph in a respectable 7.7 seconds.
On paper, the economy objectives are achieved. The Alfa Romeo Guilietta 1.4 Multiair TCT has an official combined fuel consumption of 54.3 mpg. Carbon dioxide emissions are 121 g/km, putting it in Band D for UK road tax.
Talking of challenging perceptions, for years we have known that automatic gearboxes take the edge off both performance and economy. But, with the advent of double-clutch gearboxes, that rule has been overturned. Now you can drive an automatic that not only changes gear in the blink of an eye, but is also quicker and more economical than its manual counterpart.
The TCT is one such gearbox. For even better performance you can select the “dynamic” driving mode. Among the changes it makes is instructing the gearbox to hold onto low gears for longer, to maximise the performance.
The trouble is that overuse of the “dynamic” mode will tarnish your green halo, as I found on a number of trips. Revelling in the performance, I tended to get about 22 to 25 mpg.
Whereas the Alfa Romeo Guilietta JTD was a rather frustrating car to drive, the Guilietta 1.4TB Multiair TCT is a car that makes me want to choose its keys before leaving the house.
With sharp handling and steering, combined with reasonably lively performance and a gearchange that seems to know the best gear for any conditions, it is also the sort of car that would have me choosing the enjoyable B-road route to my destination.
There are two versions of the
Alfa Romeo Guilietta 1.4 Multiair TCT to choose from. The Lusso costs £21,855, while the more luxurious Veloce costs £23,155,
Thank goodness for the
Alfa Romeo Guilietta 1.4 Multiair TCT. I no longer feel out of step with my motoring writing colleagues who have been praising the new Guiletta!