YOU think of Alfa Romeo and sports cars come immediately to mind, writes Allan McIntyre.
Diesel engines were introduced to models from the Italian manufacturer some years ago now and you may have been excused for thinking the company had lost the plot somewhere along the road.
But the beauty about advanced engines nowadays is that Alfa, sport and diesel can now all be classed together.
A prime example of this is the Alfa Giulietta which is in the highly-competitive C-segment of small family cars.
I think it is without doubt one of, if not the best looking car in this sector, but you get much more than style with it.
There is a choice of petrol and diesel engines and the model I sampled was the 2.0 JTDM-2 Lusso.
This had an outstanding 170bhp 2-litre turbo diesel that produced instant power without a sign of turbo lag – wherever you were in the six-speed manual gearbox.
The car has a DNA system which works in Normal mode from start and can be placed in All-Weather for maximum safety in low-grip conditions.
Move it into Dynamic and the responses to acceleration, steering and control are quicker for that more sportier drive.
Top level Veloce and Cloverleaf models have a more sporting set-up with a 10mm-lowered suspension.
I found the Giulietta handled exceptionally well in Normal mode with only one worry – it reached maximum speed limits so quickly that you had to keep an eye on the speedometer most of the time.
It’s a model that can be fun and functional allowing that sporting acceleration with a sprint time of eight seconds from zero to 62mph and a 135mph top speed.
The car handled well and parked easily in town driving and there was enough room for three adults to be comfortable on a long journey although the rear seats would be a tight squeeze if used for three occupants.
Handling was suberb on winding roads and it was a quiet performer cruising at speed with little wind or road noise coming through to a smart, sporty-style interior.
Standard equipment across the four trim levels – Turismo, Lusso, Veloce and Cloverleaf - is high.
The Lusso test car’s spec included dual-zone climate control, sports dials with white illumination, ‘infontainment’ system controls on steering wheel, chrome effect window sills, cruise control and Alfa’s Blue&Me hands-free system with voice recognition.
Boot space is reasonable at 350 litres which is on a par with competitors.
The five-door Giulietta’s a stunning looker and performer which isn’t over-priced, ranging from £16,995 to £24,495 with the test car costing £21,195.