Flair and style from Alfa

The stylish Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sportiva hatch has had a bit of a nip and a tuck for 2014, says Dave Humphreys in AutoExpress, sporting new trim levels and an improved cabin. The changes are subtle but well-executed, and gives the hot hatch a new lease of life.

Better still, it has an impressive new engine: Alfa’s 2.0-litre diesel has gained 10bhp and “develops its peak torque of 380Nm at only 1,750rpm, which makes it feel punchy low down in the rev range.

It’s not too noisy, either, sounding rattly only as you approach the red line.” The car is up against some tough competition, not least the Volkswagen Golf. That once made it “solely for Alfa fans”. With these updates, “its appeal is much broadened”.

Inside, the changes are more substantial than the styling tweaks on the outside, says Ed Callow in What Car. There are new leather seats, new trim finishes and a redesigned steering wheel. The dashboard has also been redesigned, with a Uconnect touch-screen infotainment system now standard across the range.

On the downside, handling, comfort, interior space and reliability are no match for rivals. It’s only for those who value style over substance. The new engine has raised Alfa’s game, says Stuart Milne in Autocar, but can it compete with the likes of the Golf or the Ford Focus?

In the end, whether the car will appeal is largely a matter of whether you value sporting edge and design flair over “safer bets”.

Price: £25,220
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Power: 148bhp
0-62mph: 8.8 seconds
Top speed: 130mph
Economy: 67.3mpg
Carbon dioxide: 110g/km