Car group tests

Alfa Giulietta vs. MINI Countryman

Want something a little different in the family hatch class? Alfa Romeo’s Giulietta and the MINI Countryman fit the bIll. We see which is our favourite

Alfa Giulietta vs. MINI Countryman

Family car buyers are spoilt for choice these days – but with so many options, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. The Alfa Romeo badge and MINI logo are sure to do just that, making the two cars in this test the perfect antidote if you want a break from the norm. 

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Giulietta

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The Alfa Romeo Giulietta failed to knock the VW Golf off the top step of the family car podium on its road test debut, while the MINI Countryman couldn’t unseat the all-conquering Skoda Yeti when
it made its bow – but they’re both bursting with charisma 
and style. We can see what their enthusiastic followers get so excited about – but which one gets our vote as the ultimate hatchback head-turner?

To find out, we put a pair of diesels head-to-head. The Italian brand is famed for its lively petrol engines, but its latest oil-burner could be the pick of the range. 
Its 170bhp output dwarfs the 110bhp of the MINI, but the Countryman Cooper D ALL4 
has four-wheel drive for added security on winter roads. Will its extra traction give it the edge, 
or will the Alfa steal our hearts? 

Verdict

If you think pitching a four-wheel crossover against a sporty diesel hatch is a mismatch, think again. Buyers searching for head-turning alternatives to the raft of family hatchbacks on sale will see the appeal of both cars in this test.

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So does the rough and tough MINI take the win or will the elegant Alfa secure the honours? Given the Giulietta’s power and price advantage it came into this contest as the hot favourite, but the Countryman caused an upset. 

The Alfa is faster and more affordable, but its interior doesn’t feel special enough and the driving experience is disappointing. In contrast, the MINI exceeded our expectations. It’s packed full of character, fun to drive and has low running costs. The Giulietta driver may arrive at their destination faster, but the MINI owner will be the one wearing the bigger smile – and in this test, that proved to be critical.

1. MINI Countryman ALL4

You won’t buy the Countryman because it provides more practicality than its crossover rivals, because it doesn’t. But it matches the Alfa for interior space and makes up for its power deficit with more engaging dynamics. The Italian brand’s cars are famed for their character, but the MINI has more personality and charisma.

2. Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0 JDTm Lusso

We wanted to love the Giulietta, and its diesel engine is arguably the best in the current line-up. But the rest of the package fails to live up to the promise of its distinctive styling. It’s fast and refined, but lacks sparkle. The DNA set-up also detracts from the driving experience. 

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