Friday, April 30, 2010

Not an Alfa but mad enough to be interesting

Renaultsport Clio 255 V6 | evo Fast Fleet
The Renaultsport Clio V6 255. A motoring oddity if there ever was one. Take a big, heavy 3-litre V6 engine and drop it in the middle of a short, light Clio chassis. Hook up a rear-wheel-drive, six-speed manual transmission, inject some plumping chemicals into the bodywork et voilĂ ! - you have a car that is rarer than a Ferrari F430, as visually arresting as a Lamborghini and as challenging to drive as a 911 Turbo. The one you see here is mine, and it cost me just £17,500.

Of course, there are those who think that spending £17,500 on a bizarre-looking Clio with the engine in the wrong place is madness. One of them is my wife.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pininfarina's Alfa Spider concept

Not sure I want one myself but I do like the look of the thing. Lots of words here, the pics at the end are worth it though.

Pininfarina | 2uettottanta
What is the 2uettottanta effect? Desire. Whoever sees it “must” possess it, drive it, enjoy it. Because the 2uettottanta is not an unattainable dream. Nor does the 2uettottanta only want to impress at first glance, but to achieve a beauty that does not strive solely for immediate confirmation, but gradually reveals all its values and transfers them to the future, making the style eternal. As it did in the case of the Duetto, which continues to be celebrated as an icon of design after more than 40 years.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nice Giulietta review, shame the reviewer has lost the plot

Here's a nice review of the new Giulietta. That's great.

But the problem here (that wrecks it for me, sadly, as I'm particular about tiny details) is that the first few paragraphs are little more than ill-formed opinion on what ails Alfa, rather than a review of a car. It was starting to sound like a rehash of the usual 'Alfa hasn't made a decent car in 30 years' line but it became increasingly obvious that the sort of apparently obvious flaws Alfa may have as a car maker are also to be found in the skills this motor noter let loose with a keyboard. I was wary (but forgiving - it's apparently a US-based blog after all) when it seemed that the writer was unaware that there was another Giulietta beyween the first and the latest one, but then this clanger (see quote in para below) dropped.

Oh dear, an almost 30-year-old chassis, eh? Exactly which chassis is imagined here - perhaps ARNA or 33? Now my recollection is that the 147 is a cut-back 156 chassis. And the 156 was introduced with a fresh chassis - again, trusting my memory only - in about 1997.  That's not quite 30 years, is it? (OK, it's getting closer, but why exaggerate like this?) Neither the ARNA nor 33 look remotely like a 156 or 147 in terms of body construction (not truly being a chassis per se in any case) and had more to do with the Nissan Pulsar and Alfasud respectively. Can this writer be referring to the only other FWD "chassis" I can even remotely imagine is relevant here, the 164? As that was a shared development with FIAT and SAAB and again quite unlike a 156 I guess not. So - unless there's secret knowledge here - we have yet another Alfa reviewer with a warped sense of history and the opportunity to share it with us.

But the actual review was fair enough. So why not just review the car? 

2011 Alfa Romeo Giulietta First Drive
The Giulietta replaces the Alfa Romeo 147, a technical dinosaur that we nonetheless actually like a bunch. There were various bits and pieces introduced to the front-wheel-drive 147 over its nine-year life cycle that helped compensate for the shortcomings of its almost 30-year-old chassis.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Not flawed but impressive and competent - which apparently is a flaw. Huh?

evo continues to write schizoid rubbish... the new Giulietta is impressive and competent, apparently, but lacks the flaws and "characterful" driving experience of the past Alfa generation. I think they mean the 147GTA as they haven't - in my memory - mentioned this characterful driving experience with regard to other recent Alfas. Damned with faint praise is the usual tone of evo reviews. Oh well, can't please everyone I guess.  

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Multiair review | evo
But - and it’s a big but for an Alfa Romeo - the sparkle’s missing. Previous generation Alfas have been flawed but undeniably characterful to drive. The Giulietta turns the brand’s personality on its head, dishing up a very impressive and competent driving experience that doesn’t really have you gagging to go back.

evo reviews series 3 Giulietta Quadrofoglio Verde

I think it's a fair review overall but I'm not sure what "too tied down and inert" really mean. It's tied down, ie not loose I guess, and has lots of inertia? I gather that means it's not taily and more GT than hot hatch? And that's "a shame for an Alfa Romeo"? As a long-time Alfetta GTV driver that non-taily, understeery inertia is actually what I think of as "well balanced". I know the 105s were more taily, especially in the wet, but that was waaaay back in the 70s... just what do evo mag expect a 2010 Alfa to be? (Taily, obviously.)

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Cloverleaf review | evo
Switch to Dynamic and it's a much better Giulietta. The throttle sharpens so you can enjoy the hefty low-end torque better and hear that deep, crisp engine note. The steering weight rises but in a natural way, not by artificially increasing resistance. And the brakes change from spongy to quite sharp, thanks to 'pre-fill'. Dynamic also loosens the tail a little before VDC intervenes, but this is still not a car to be pointed keenly into a bend on a trailing throttle and caught with a dab of power. It's too tied-down and inert for that, which is a shame for an Alfa Romeo.

Alfa can't win when motor-noters contradict themselves

I don't fully understand why I "love" Alfas, I just do. OK, just some Alfas. Mostly the ones I like or have owned (not always the same thing). I do enjoy the sense of history, the style and the racing cred, and the (sometimes flawed) high-end engineering at mid-range pricing. So I understand where the sort of opinion quoted below is coming from, but really... how can Alfa win at this game? To be charismatic they must make flawed cars, yet to sell cars they have to make better ones. Eh? Or so the motor-noters repeat, ad nauseum. They all seem to say the same thing, as though they can't really think for themselves... hmmm.

The new Alfa: not for petrolheads blog on Evo Community by Stephen Dobie
The 147 GTA is a case in point. Its gorgeous looks and sonorous V6 engine gloss over a host of inherent flaws. I want one, even though I know I shouldn’t.

It’s a car I thought a lot about on the launch of the Alfa Giulietta a fortnight ago (first drive here). The two cars feel like polar opposites; the new Golf-fighter looks and feels conventional, has a clever and efficient engine, and drives as well as most things in its class. It’s very good. And yet I can't love it. There are no glaring flaws or problems you’d have to learn your way around. You could buy one without false justifications, without the knowledge you were taking leave of your senses or risking a world of expense and despair.

Friday, April 09, 2010

For the centenary, a nuova TZ?

Why not? In a market filled with shapely, high-priced performance car options it's unlikely that it would reach production, but a TZ concept keeps Alfa on the radar in its 100th year.

Alfa Romeo TZ3 Corsa Zagato Concept Announced for Villa d'Este Concours - Wide Open Throttle - Motor Trend Magazine
According to a recent release highlighting several cars set to be displayed at the 2010 Villa D'Este Concorso d'Eleganza, a new Alfa Romeo concept - penned by famed Italian design firm Zagato - will make its world debut April 24. The car will follow Alfa Romeo concepts by both Bertone and Pininfarina that debuted in Geneva earlier this year.
Dubbed the Alfa Romeo TZ3 Corsa, the concept will undoubtedly pay homage to special Alfa TZ models of the past while at the same time celebrating Alfa Romeo's centenary anniversary. The TZ3 Corsa is said to celebrate the shared philosophy of "utilitarian beauty" that both Alfa Romeo and Zagato embrace.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I just like the look of the thing - 1.4litres with attitude

Markuzzi Alfa Romeo MiTo
Markuzzi Exclusive could probably modify any cars and after presenting you some refined supercars they released a tuning package for the new Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.4TB. At the exterior level, Markuzzi’s Alfa Romeo MiTo received slight design upgrades, an adjustable suspension and a new set of 19″ aluminum wheels from SPort wrapped in high performance tires.

Alfa in US in 2012? Giulia first?

Of most interest would be the name, I reckon. If Giulia. MiTo and Giulietta remain intact as nameplates in the US I'd be amazed.  Anyway, the car's the thing (at least here) and the Giulia would be produced in one of the Chrysler plants.  

Report: Alfa Romeo Giulia Coming In 2011 - MotorAuthority
The new Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan is reportedly set to be revealed next year for the European market, while Americans will have to wait an additional year. According to Fiat-Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne, the Alfa Romeo brand isn’t likely to arrive in the U.S. until 2012, when local production of the Giulia--and a Chrysler model based on the same platform--starts up.

Based on Fiat Group’s new “Compact-Wide” platform, the front-wheel drive Giulia will feature a McPherson front axle with a twin-link rear suspension. A high-performance all-wheel drive variant may also be offered, as well as a sporty wagon.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

AutoExpress damns 135BHP MiTo MultiAir with nice styling and engine, shame about the rest

Motor-noters are never happy, are they? Even when a car hits lots of sensible targets, it's just not good enough.

Alfa Romeo MiTo Multiair 135bhp | First Drives | Car Reviews | Auto Express
We’ve already driven the hot 170bhp Cloverleaf variant, but for those who want to trade some of that power for extra economy, a 135bhp version of the same 1.4-litre turbocharged engine is also on sale.

Essentially a sophisticated electronic variable valve timing system, MultiAir technology accurately controls airflow into the combustion chamber. The result is greater torque at low revs, better top-end performance, good fuel economy and
lowered CO2 emissions.

Last 147 to be registered in the UK - and it's a diesel

Not sure if the last 147 sold in the UK will be such a big collector's item, but it's still a nice car. Note that the guy has to be an Alfa nut after buying 8 of the wretchedly lovely things.

Terance snaps up motoring history (From Knutsford Guardian)
Terance, 64, said: “I’ve always been a huge Alfa Romeo fan, so to know I have played a small part in its history is fantastic.”

Terance has been living in Bermuda for the past 16 years, but recently returned home to the UK. His new car will be his eighth Alfa Romeo, with Terance’s past cars including an Alfetta, an Alfa Romeo 33 and the original Giulietta.