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Breathtaking? Gorgeous? Stunning perhaps? There are plenty of ways you could describe the eye-catching Alfa Giulietta. Whatever it makes you feel, there’s no doubt that it’s a car that makes a big statement. LED running lights, climate control, and rear parking sensors await you on this model. Our Alfa Romeo Giulietta car leasing and contract hire options can see you behind its wheel in no time.

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If you thought that all Focus-sized family hatchbacks were much of a muchness, Alfa Romeo's Giulietta is probably going to come as a breath of fresh air. The improved version gets an upgraded 2.


0-litre diesel engine, greater refinement, cleverer infotainment technology and a slightly smarter feel inside and out. Add these virtues to its existing attributes - distinctive styling, a strong range of engines and interior design that's a world away from the usual blandness – and you’ve a car that should appeal to both head and heart.

So you need a family hatchback – but you don’t want a dull one. It’s time for something different this time around, something you can attach a bit of pride and passion to. Something like perhaps, Alfa Romeo’s much improved modern era Giulietta.

Rather surprisingly, the ride is one of the best things about the car, supple, yet complementing excellent body control. The other thing is the impressive refinement, much improved in this revised model. Alfa went all-out to better this, with modifications made in the engine compartment, the wheelarches, the front mudguard, the floor, the rear bumper and the boot and their work has paid off.

Let’s be honest. Even in its pricey premium segment, the family hatchback market isn’t overly endowed with pretty cars. This one’s welcome then, taking the styling cues of its smaller MiTo stablemate and transferring them, rather successfully it has to be said, to a bigger five door-only design. At the front, where as usual, the numberplate is jauntily offset to the left, the famous triangular grille is given plenty of space to breathe with the air-intakes cut low and the headlamps, complete with daytime running lights, pushed out to the corners. It’s the look we first saw on the 8C Competizione supercar and not one you expect to find on a family hatch.

The visual changes made to the revised version are slight, extra chrome on the front grille, revised front foglight bezels, smarter alloy wheels and a wider range of paint colours. But then, this wasn’t a design that needed much doing to it and as before, there’s beautiful detailing almost everywhere you look. Take the lovely LED tail lamp night time signature for example. Or the shapely profile. I don't think I've ever seen a pair of rear doors so artfully disguised, the blade-thin shutlines disappearing into the rear wheelarch line and the door handles hidden in the window frame.

Enter in through them and the news that the car is longer than a Volkswagen Golf might lead you to expect more head, leg and kneeroom than is actually on offer. The narrowing windowline and sloping coupe-like roof don’t help here and it can be a little dark unless you find quite a lot extra for the large electric double sunroof. Still, two adults will be reasonably comfortable and three kids adequately provided for.

Lift the rear hatch – the badge neatly doubles as a boot release - and you’ll find that the Alfa offers a class-competitive 350-litre cargo bay, though you have to lift your luggage over quite a high lip to get to it. It’s reasonably practical too, with a bag hook, a power socket and a recess where bottles can be stored. If you need more, you can as usual push forward the 60/40 split-folding rear bench to free up an unremarkable 750-litres.

And at the wheel? Well, if you drove the original version of this car, you’ll probably take a seat here and struggle to put your finger exactly on why it all feels slightly nicer. The seats have been re-designed to be more comfortable and enveloping, particularly in terms of upper-body lateral support. The door panels are re-styled too, as is the three-spoke height and reach-adjustable leather-trimmed steering wheel, though this remains a touch too far away for perfect comfort. The sweeping dashboard’s been re-designed too, mainly to accommodate a freshly added Uconnect multimedia system with a 5-inch colour screen that increases to 6. 5-inches in size if you specify optional satellite navigation.

Alfa Romeo’s Giulietta is a car that confounds many expectations. It's mature, well-built, cost-effective to run and features strong safety credentials. Does this mean that this Milanese maker has sold out, joined the mainstream, maybe got a little boring now that the company has celebrated its centenary? I think not.

The Giulietta may not have quite the old-school sparkle of some of its predecessors, but overall, the improved first generation model is undoubtedly a desirable thing, smart to behold, plusher inside and able to match premium rivals in most of the practical areas that matter. It’s also more efficient these days – or at least it is in the improved 150bhp 2. 0-litre JTDm-2 diesel guise that a large number of drivers in this country seem to want.

When all's said and done, these are things that make this Italian contender much more a car you would actually drive, rather than one you’d simply add to a future wishlist. And for Alfa Romeo, that can only be a very good thing.