Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce (2024) review: what a difference a diff makes | CAR Magazine

Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce (2024) review: what a difference a diff makes

Published: 09 July 2024 Updated: 09 July 2024
Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce review
  • At a glance
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Alan Taylor-Jones

New cars editor, seasoned road tester and automotive encyclopaedia.

By Alan Taylor-Jones

New cars editor, seasoned road tester and automotive encyclopaedia.

► 276bhp, front-wheel drive, slippy diff
Reworked suspension a pleasant surprise
More fun than a MINI Cooper SE

The Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce and its lesser range mates have already seen their fair share of controversy. For a start, it’s the first all-electric Alfa, and it’s also the first to use a Stellantis platform. For additional drama, it’s already had a last-minute name change from Milano after the Italian government got in a strop.

However, looking at the specs and speaking to the engineers, rays of sunshine appear through the gloom. Rather than try to cram a pair of e-motors into this compact package a la Volvo EX30, the spec sheet reads more like an old-school hot hatch than a modern EV.

Rivals include the mechanically similar Abarth 600e, MINI Cooper SE and, in theory at least, the MG4 XPower. Spreading a wider net, you might also consider the Ford Puma ST and other ICE alternatives.

At a glance

Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce rear driving

Pros: Joyous handling, liveable ride, appropriately fast

Cons: Cramped rear seats, driving range not great, brake pedal needs some work

Anything new?

Not the platform, that’s for sure. Underneath the Alfa suit is the same basic guts as the Fiat 600e and Jeep Avenger, and therefore the DS 3, Peugeot e-2008 and Vauxhall Mokka. However, Alfa Romeo has made a few key changes to inject a bit of excitement and dynamism to the drive.

There’s a new and more powerful electric motor that still exclusively drives the front wheels, revised spring and damper rates with hydraulic bumpstops and a 25mm drop in ride height. The anti-roll bars have been beefed up, 380mm discs with four-pot calipers fitted and there’s a new steering setup with a quick 2.6-turns lock to lock.

Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce alloy wheel

20-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport EV tyres help the visuals and grip levels, but it’s what you’ll find between the front wheels that gets me really excited. Unlike the most ‘performance’ EVs that do without a limited-slip diff, the Veloce gets one as standard.

What are the specs?

It needs it, too. The new motor that’s shared with the upcoming Abarth 600e outputs 276bhp and 254Ib ft of torque: plenty for a B-segment crossover but not a great deal in the current EV power wars. And you know what? I’m not just fine with that, I’m actually happy.

Engineers sampling some of the 400+bhp dual motor compact cars out there found them to be borderline terrifying. I’ve experienced this myself in the Smart #1 Brabus and Volvo EX30 twin motor, both being blisteringly fast in a straight line but comically overpowered in the bends.

Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce front driving

Besides, a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds is plenty quick enough, as is the top speed of around 124mph. We say around as I’m having an early taste of a pre-production car before it’s been fully homologated, so I can’t give a firm driving range figure, either. As it’s got the 54kWh battery pack, Alfa is quoting a range of 210 miles+ with WLTP certification still to come.

What about the interior?

While there is some very familiar switchgear, this is an interior that’s appreciably different in character compared to other cars on this platform. The twin binnacle cowling for the digital display is very Alfa, and both infotainment and heater controls are canted towards the driver.

Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce front interior

The 10.25-inch screen is a little low for my liking, but I do appreciate the physical shortcut buttons and responsiveness of the system. Graphics for the driver’s display and main screen are sharp, and neither are particularly hard to navigate. It’s a huge step on from the dated system found in the Giulia and Stelvio.

With the Junior range likely to start well below £30k for a hybrid, plenty of hard plastics are to be expected, although they perhaps could have been hidden a little better. Crucially, the steering wheel feels good with its Alcantara and leather coating, as do most other areas you interact with regularly.

Space up front is fine, although I suspect rear space was impacted somewhat by the optional Sabelt sports seats. They’re thick and have cutouts in them like the BMW M3, although here they usefully give lankier passengers a bit more kneeroom. Even so, the rear pews are fine for kids, but even an average height adult will feel cramped quickly in the back.

Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce frunk

The boot is at least a useful 400-litres, and there’s somewhere under the bonnet for a charging cable. Just make sure it’s not overly long as the frunk is shallow and not very big. Still, at least it has one unlike the rest of the cars on this platform. If you need more space, the rear bench folds in a 60/40 split.

How does it drive?

Far better than it has any right to. Alfa Romeo’s changes might seem small, but they have a transformative effect on this platform’s fun factor. It starts with the steering that feels quick without being nervy and loves to chat about the road’s surface.

Brake feel is good, too. In Normal mode it can seem like the regen is pushing back the harder you mash the pedal, but it’s a slight annoyance rather than something that destroys your confidence.

Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce rear cornering

Besides, Dynamic mode gets rid of all regen (unless you’ve selected B mode on the ‘gear’ selector) and instead delivers natural feel that makes them easy to modulate especially when you’re on it. As the car is ‘98% done’ according to Alfa engineers, let’s hope they can sort Normal mode, too.

Their work on the diff certainly seems done. Get on the power early and you feel your line tighten as the LSD starts chasing the apex. There is a little torque steer here and when you nail it from a standstill, but it’s gentle tugging not a fight to keep it on the right side of the road. It’s also more than happy to tighten its line with a lift, or by braking deep into a turn.

You can feel the chassis move beneath you by a degree or two, with the ESC always there to prevent anything getting too wayward unlike the fully defeatable MINI Cooper SE system. The Junior is very well judged and absolutely nails Alfa’s brief of making a car that’s fun for an enthusiast but wouldn’t scare your gran, though.

Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce front cornering

It certainly wouldn’t shake her dentures out. There is a suppleness to the ride that does mean more lean than a Cooper SE, but it’s controlled and the benefit is a more supple ride. Admittedly, I’ve experienced the Cooper on its biggest 18-inch wheels on the UK’s tatty road network and the Junior on a test track, but it wasn’t fidgeting like the MINI does.

Besides, on top of the smooth Alfa track that’s normally where you drive at Balocco, there’s also the Langhe circuit that’s built to replicate winding Italian roads. Over a couple of areas designed to test suspension it takes the sting out of a metal ridge set into the track and uneven paving. It’s the same gentle touch that’s makes the Giulia Quadrifoglio such a delight.

That’s because it’s the same team behind both cars, and while the Junior isn’t a full QV, it certainly inherits family traits. One of those is thirst. No official figure is yet available, with Alfa estimating it’ll be 210 miles+.

Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce rear cornering

I drove it reasonably gently around the 11km Langhe circuit and recorded 3.6 miles per kWh – good for a calculated range of 184 miles based on the 51kWh usable capacity of the pack. With the regen turned off and driven hard, the range tumbles even more rapidly.

Before you buy

There will be a lesser Alfa Romeo Junior Elettrica that uses the 54kWh battery pack with the usual 154bhp electric motor, and a hybrid that’s not yet confirmed for the UK. The Veloce is electric only and will cost just shy of £43,000 when it goes on sale late in 2024 after the cooking versions.

Verdict: Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce

I write this with some trepidation. Some high scores have been given off the back of a Balocco-based launch, only for the car to tumble several stars when faced with real roads. Despite wanting to avoid a 4C moment, I can be nothing but enthusiastic about the Junior Veloce’s handling.

I’m not blind to it being closely related to the largely unremarkable Jeep Avenger, or that it’s still cramped in the back and has a short range. However, it is the electric car that’s got closest to the feel of a properly good old-school hot hatch for me, despite ever-present stability control.

It’s not ridiculously stiff or hopelessly overpowered, gets an effective slippy diff, and it has a lightness of touch to the driving experience that’s been missing from fast EVs so far. The Junior Veloce is certainly quite different to the stiff and heavy-feeling Cooper SE, with a suppleness that should work well in the UK. I’ll find out if I’m right towards the end of 2024.


Price when new: £42,295
On sale in the UK: Q4 2024
Engine: 52kWh battery, single electric motor
Transmission: Single speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Performance: 276bhp, 254Ib ft, 5.9sec 0-62mph, 124mph+
Weight / material: 1590kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4173/1781/1535mm

Photo Gallery

  • Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce review
  • Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce rear cornering
  • Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce front cornering
  • Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce rear cornering
  • Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce (2024) review: what a difference a diff makes
  • Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce front driving
  • Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce rear driving
  • Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce front interior
  • Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce rear interior
  • Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce boot
  • Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce frunk
  • Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce alloy wheel

By Alan Taylor-Jones

New cars editor, seasoned road tester and automotive encyclopaedia.