Although it’s far from perfect, the Stelvio we’re currently running is a sign of Alfa Romeo finally having a proper go at being a premium manufacturer. The SUV and its Giulia saloon car brother sit on a bespoke longitudinal platform, into which you can foist a twin-turbo V6 should you wish.
It wasn’t so long ago, however, that Alfa’s only offerings were two middle-of-the-road hatchbacks: the MiTo and the Giulietta. Both are now out of production - the MiTo went first in 2018, while the Giulietta soldiered on until it was quietly culled in 2020. We didn’t shed a tear for either car, but our spell in a new car from the Italian manufacturer has us pondering cheaper entry points to the brand. One of those is the Giulietta Cloverleaf.
Once upon a time, our go-to suggestion would have been a 147 or 156 GTA, but it’s getting increasingly hard to find one at all, let a lot a cheap one that isn’t a liability. They’re also getting old now, and are needy things. The Giulietta Cloverleaf, on the other hand, is a lot fresher.
Identical to the model referred to as a ‘Quadrifoglio Verde’ elsewhere in Europe, the UK’s ‘Cloverleaf’ is damn near as powerful and slightly torquier than those older GTA models, extracting 232bhp and 251lb ft from a 1742cc inline-four turbo engine. That’s all sent through the front wheels via an open differential, with an ‘EQ2’ system using the brakes to mimic the operation of a mechanical LSD.
In 2016 the 1750 TBI engine was switched to a slightly pokier and much lighter all-aluminium version pinched from the mid-engined 4C. At the same time, the UK finally adopted the same QV title as the rest of Europe.
You’ll still pay a fairly hefty sum for one of those later models, and it’ll have to be one with a dual-clutch gearbox - the manual was dropped at that point. The Cloverleaf, on the other hand, was introduced some six years prior, allowing plenty of time for depreciation to take hold. This 2011 example on Autotrader, for instance, is a mere £4995.
It’s much leggier than most with 124,000 miles on the clock, but it has a full-service history including a recently recorded trip to an Alfa main dealer. If preferred, there’s another Giulietta for a couple of grand more that’s covered a more agreeable 68,800 miles.
Whichever you go for, it’s important not to expect a dynamic sensation. A Renault Sport Megane of the era will walk all over it in that department. Judged as a hot hatch against some very talented competition available at the time, the Alfa always fell short.
However, if you’re merely after something fast, practical and a little bit interesting, £5-7k seems like quite a steal. Would you?