It’s hard to believe the Alfa Romeo Giulietta has been with us for nearly a decade. It seems like just yesterday this peppy Italian hatch wowed us with its stunning design and the fact it was just so exciting to drive. While Alfa Romeo as a brand is not everyone’s cup of tea, some will choose Volkswagen or Audi every time, for the discerning car connoisseur, driving an Alfa Romeo at exuberant speed or slicing through downtown traffic, is something pretty special.

Despite the Giulietta often playing second fiddle to its German rivals in the sales stakes, the latest Giulietta Veloce has been tweaked and now comes with added value, with prices now starting at $39,990. Let’s see what’s what.

At first glance, it is difficult to see what has changed from the outside, it still looks drop dead gorgeous enough. However, take a second look and you pick up details like the black honeycomb design adorning that classic Alfa front grill and the re designed headlights which mirror that of the 4C sports car. These also featured LED daytime running lights.

Round the back, you get twin pipes, a sporty looking rear diffuser, 18-inch alloys which house red brake callipers and lots of lovely Veloce badging. The fact the car supplied to me from the team at Euromarque was black only added to the flair and style which the Giulietta delivers in spades.

Under the bonnet lies a very sweet running and sounding 1.7-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine with 177kW of grunt and 340Nm of torque. Alfa have a great heritage of feisty sub 2.0-litre four pot petrol engines, and the Giulietta’s beating heart is no exception.

A six speed TCT automatic gearbox is also featured with shift paddles, though I would rather have an Alfa manual in a heartbeat. With a top whack of 244km/h and zero to the New Zealand open road limit of six seconds, the Veloce is certainly brisk enough for most.

Inside, the cabin will be very familiar to the modern Alfa faithful, not to mention past Giulietta owners. Simple white on black dial stare at you in the face and the chunky steering wheel feels a tad awkward in your mitts at first, but you soon get used to it. The Alfa embossed leather and alcantara seat combo not only looks good but holds you firmly in place without sacrificing comfort.

The infotainment screen is small, but very sharp in the way it displays information. All the fruit is there, but the lack of a reversing camera is unfortunate. Some of the switchgear feels a tad basic but the way everything is laid out still looks pretty good. Back seat passengers may feel cramped due to the low swooping almost coupe like roofline. Boot space is rated at 350 litres, putting the Giulietta on par with the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3. Its deep floor swallowed up my weekly shop with ease.

Turn key and that turbo four pot crackles into life before settling down into a fiery latin burble. Moving off and it becomes obvious, despite being almost 10 years old, the Giulietta still offers a tonne of spirited driving fun.

Drive modes in the Giulietta Veloce can be altered via Alfa’s DNA driving switch. The three modes are Dynamic, Natural and All Weather, hence the aforementioned acronym.

Switching between modes takes a moment or two, you have to hold down the switch for at least a second for each mode to engage. In Natural mode, the Giulietta gets along fine, but the automatic box I found a bit clunky between each upshift. You can help this by throttling off or changing gear yourself and you don’t get it when down changing at all. To be honest, most of the time was spent in Dynamic mode.

Dynamic mode sharpens the throttle response, quickens the upshifts, and gives that spirited primeval drive which Alfa’s have owned for decades. The steering is nicely weighted, giving you tonnes of feedback as you throw it into corners with almost carefree abandon. The Veloce also hangs on in the bends like a cat on shag pile carpet.

While the parking sensors work well front and rear, the lack of a reversing camera is disappointing, something which the Giulietta’s contemporary rivals have as standard kit. Rear visibility as a whole is adequate but the driving position itself is quite snug.

Strangely though, I found the Veloce to be the most engaging when on long sweeping turns and motorway miles. Despite minimal tyre roar, the 1.7 turbo purrs away and when you kick down a couple of gears and give some stick, you can overtake till your hearts content.

The Alfa Giulietta Veloce is not for everyone, that is for sure. However, it is definetly a fiery Italian hot hatch worthy of recognition. If you champion a family hatch which can thrill you every day and aren’t too phased about levels of equipment, it should definitely be on your short list.

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Not the best hot/warm hatch, but certainly the most enchanting

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