The Alfa twin clutch transmission (TCT to its friends) wants us to know it's a reformed character. It first appeared in the MiTo, and we said the shifts were ropey and the stop/start system was jerky and slow on the uptake. Alfa whinged back that we obviously didn't know how to judge - or drive - a car properly. But strangely, its engineers immediately set to work modifying the gearshift software and the changing detection system that tells the engine when to restart. Lo and behold, in the Giulietta, the TCT works just fine.
It's a six-speed dual-clutch 'box. Many rivals use clutches bathed in oil to keep them cool. But the pumps need power, and the clutches generate viscous drag in their oil bath. And it all adds weight. So the Alfa 'box has dry, large-diameter, air-cooled clutches, giving a useful economy gain.
The combination of the MultiAir petrol engine and this TCT is class-leading for economy, giving a 170bhp petrol car with economy and CO2 ratings better than a 105bhp petrol manual Golf.
You can actually get the TCT on both the 170bhp Giuliettas, diesel and petrol. Both are subdued engines - the diesel is quieter than almost any of its kind, which is nice. The petrol could honestly do with some more old-school Italian sound effects.
Like any twin-clutch 'box, the TCT has a full auto mode and a sequential manual mode. The auto shifts are generally smooth. But in the petrol, even in Dynamic mode, it's inclined to shift up early, riding the torque curve for economy rather than making a dash for the red line. Manual mode it is then. Did I achieve the rated economy on the road? Course not, because using all the throttle and all the revs and all the cornering effort is, in this car, just too much fun.
Economy isn't the only plea Alfa offers. It also makes claims, and produces evidence, about best-in-class NCAP, low depreciation and high customer satisfaction. You can buy a Giulietta on rational grounds.
But you don't, do you? You buy it because most family hatchbacks just aren't as appealing. You like the idea of owning an Alfa. Especially one that looks like this, and drives as well as it looks.
1368cc, 4cyl, FWD, 170bhp, 184lb ft, 54.3mpg, 121g/km CO2, 0-62 in 7.7secs, 135mph, 1305kg
Manual Giulietta's shift isn't that great. This 'box is smooth, saves fuel and works fine in manual over-ride. Good