Alfa Romeo want the people driving their cars to be part of the driving experience – not distance them from it. I get that car companies may be only responding to progress and customer demand, but there is nothing like really 'driving' a car. I like to know that the engine is there when you stick the boot in.
My car has the TCT (in Alfa speak, twin clutch transmission). The colour is silver stone grey, And I have been wanting a Giulietta for about five years.
It has been a bit of a long story. Three years ago I was ready to buy one, although, Alfa seemed to take their time delivering the cars to Australia (ended up taking about a year longer then they said it would!). When you are ready put your money down, this seems like a heck of a long time, I assure you.
So, instead we bought a 2014 Skoda Octavia VRS, with DSG transmission. There is nothing wrong with the Skoda; we still have it. It makes sense on many levels and is honestly hard to fault. It has VAG technology; it's quick; has a better quality interior; more refined, and an intuitive transmission. There is, much more interior space and the ergonomics are excellent – things just seem to fall to hand.
It seems easy to decide which is the better car, right? Well, that's where things get tricky…
I have always liked the design of the Guilietta. I believe it is a much better looking car than the Golf GTi and other hot hatches, at least to my eye.
The leather and Alcantara seats are great and are very comfortable and supportive. The interior feels a bit cheap otherwise at this price point – lots of hard plastics. Interior space is poor, and I wouldn't like to spend too much time in the back seat, that's for sure.
No rear-view camera, which is disappointing. I don’t quite understand why, given it's available in other U-connect systems in the Fiat Chrysler range. There is no AppleCar play to be seen, or digital radio.
The automatic headlight setting is a bit difficult to find and I once drove home one night thinking they were on, when it was only the daytime LEDs. What could possibly go wrong? I got home safely, thankfully.
The GPS system works quite well, and I really like the Bose stereo. It has front and rear parking sensors, climate control, dual zone A/C, but it lacks electric or heated seats.
"Just focus on the driving," I can hear the head honchos at Alfa saying, "you don't need these distractions".
The Veloce has been my daily driver since I've had it, and be warned – I don't think this car is suitable for a family, it's seriously lacking in the in-cabin storage areas. The glove box is deep, but is quite difficult to reach from the driver's seat. The boot is quite good for the class, but I think you would struggle with children.
I knew this going in though, I didn't have my heart set on a Camry.
The engine's character and sound are great, the gearbox while not as intuitive as some, sounds, and feels good with a ‘blip’ of the throttle and a ‘shunt’ in the back as it shifts. The engine is an old school turbo, which means HELLO turbo lag. When you take off from the lights it feels like there is nothing there for a few moments. Some reviews say this is a ‘drivability issue’. I don't quite agree and it's something you get used to. Keep your boot planted (it’s an Alfa right?) and it's quick and a whole lot of fun.
Its ride is hard, which is good for racing and spirited driving, but it really doesn't like bumps so much, which makes it a bit hard to live with.
Which car do I prefer to drive? I prefer the steering in the Alfa to the Skoda, it feels more direct and better weighted. The Skoda does have a ‘sound actuator ‘ setting but this still sounds shite – the Alfa sounds great all the time without fancy pants settings. The engine noise is never intrusive though, it is only audible when you stick the boot in. I know the Skoda would tick more boxes, but if we are talking about a better car and driving experience is something you value (I know I sound like an Alfa tragic now), the Veloce will deliver in spades.