Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCT - First Drive

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

Engine: 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol, turbocharged
Transmission: six-speed Alfa TCT dual-clutch automatic/sequential
Power: 170 bhp at 5,500 rpm
Torque: 230 Nm at 2,250 rpm (250 Nm at 2,500 rpm in Dynamic mode)
Fuel consumption (combined cycle): 54.3 mpg
CO2 emissions: 121 g/km
Top speed: 135 mph
Acceleration (0-62 mph): 7.7 seconds

Price: from £21,855 (Lusso trim)

Alfa Romeo sales enjoyed a minor boom in the UK last year, with registrations increasing by 31 per cent to 11,563, the highest level since 2002. Much of that success can be attributed to the popularity of the attractive Giulietta, introduced eighteen months ago as a replacement for the 147 and a rival to the Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series. Now the Giulietta gets a boost with the introduction of a new self-shifting dual-clutch gearbox branded TCT (Twin Clutch Transmission).

Volkswagen, with its DSG gearboxes, beat Alfa to the punch with dual-clutch technology but it would be unwise to underestimate any new development from Fiat Powertain Group, the operation responsible for engines and gearboxes for Fiat-owned brands, including Alfa. In the last few years, Fiat has come up with MultiAir valve-gear and the impressive TwinAir two-cylinder engine fitted to the 500 and other small Fiat group cars. Before that, it was associated with the development of common rail diesels. TCT, designed and made by Fiat, is the subject of 28 patents, and doesn't let the side down.

The new transmission is available in conjunction with the two biggest-selling Giulietta engine options, the turbocharged 1.4-litre MultiAir Petrol and the 2.0-litre JTDM-2 diesel, both of which produce 170 horsepower, although the diesel provides more torque (320 Nm as opposed to 230 Nm). In the case of the petrol, TCT costs £1,350 more than the manual, for the diesel, it's £1,400. I tried both and came away quite impressed. “Automatic” changes are smooth and quick, and the cars' subjective liveliness is borne out by the figures. The petrol is capable of accelerating from rest to 62 mph in only 7.7 seconds, the diesel in 8.0, although in practice, the diesel's torque makes it feel like it has more real-world go. I had the chance to speak with one of Fiat Powertrain's head boffins, Constantinos Vafidis, and he explained to me that they'd decided not to provide more than six ratios (some Volkswagen DSG boxes have seven) in order to avoid the “busy-ness” associated with over-frequent changes, a decision that's supported, or at least not really challenged, by the experience of using the TCT 'boxes on the road. One minor niggle – the steering wheel mounted paddles that can be used as an alternative to the gear selector for manual shifts could do with feeling a bit classier. Metal might be nicer than plastic, although in general, the Giulietta scores quite highly on cabin ambience, combining a distinctively Italian Alfa feel with apparently good fit and finish.

One interesting difference between TCT and dual-clutch gearboxes from other manufacturers is that there is no “S” or “sport” setting on the selector gate to provide a more aggressive shift pattern making more use of the lower gears for a driver who wants to press on. Instead, the TCT gearbox is integrated into and influenced by Alfa's “DNA” system. DNA is controlled by a switch on the centre console and has three settings – Dynamic (or sporty), Normal and All-weather – which a driver selects according to mood or conditions. In a manual Alfa, DNA alters the engine, steering and suspension settings, and can feel a bit superfluous. Giving the system control over the mapping of the gearbox in TCT-equipped Giuliettas appears to lend it a bit more purpose, although I'd need to spend longer with the car to get to the bottom of just how much difference mucking about with the DNA switch really made to the TCT's shift behaviour.

Traditionally, Alfas have been a minority choice and have appealed mainly to the heart rather than the head. But the company is increasingly able to deploy quite strong rational arguments in favour of buying a Giulietta as well; Alfas have been working their way up the residual value and customer satisfaction league tables, and now the Giulietta TCT models' low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in official tests make them an attractive option for benefit-in-kind taxation conscious company car users as well. The petrol TCT achieves 54.3 mpg (combined cycle) and 121g/km, while the diesel delivers 62.8 mpg and 119g/km – in both cases that's an improvement over the figures for the equivalent cars with manual gearboxes, highlighting the potential for dual-clutch gearboxes to provide the convenience of an automatic while matching or beating a manual for performance and economy. The petrol TCT's balance in particular between emissions, economy and performance also compares very favourably with just about every C-segment competitor, including cars with with Volkswagen's turbocharged TSI engines and DSG gearboxes.

Alfa struggles a bit to get noticed in the face of British buyers' obsession with the German brands but the Giulietta is slowly helping to change that - and the new TCT transmission can only help.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

    Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

    Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

    £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

    Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

    £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
    Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

    24-Hour party person

    Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
    Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

    A taste for rebellion

    US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
    Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

    Colouring books for adults

    How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
    Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
    Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

    Call me Ed Mozart

    Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
    10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
    Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
    'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

    'I am a paedophile'

    Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
    Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

    From a lost deposit to victory

    Green Party on the march in Bristol
    Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

    Winter blunderlands

    Putting the grot into grotto
    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

    London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital