Monday, November 28, 2011

Spanish engineer grandfather with too much time on his hands makes tiny working v12 engine

Not exactly Alfa content but fascinating anyway....

Spanish engineer crafts "world's smallest" V-12 engine
Anyone who appreciates the precision art of engine design ought to get a kick out of this offering from a Spanish engineer named Patelo. Starting with hunks of aluminum, bronze and stainless steel, he spent over 1200 hours designing, milling, turning and drilling what he claims is "probably" the world's smallest V12 engine. Powered by compressed air injection (0.1kg/sq cm), this little marvel boasts a total displacement of 12 cubic centimeters from its twelve 11.3 mm diameter pistons and works like a charm.

Friday, May 27, 2011

It's old, it's small, it's stylish. It's named after a French-Canadian city. It's an Alfa, of course.

Just doing a Montreal-watch I guess. Good condition. Tick. Owned previously by a rock-star's wife. Tick (hmmm, is that a good thing?). Small capacity, stylish and it works. More ticks. It's also unusual in overall concept. So all ticks, really. Of course you'll spend big bucks on it, but that's part of the price of entry.

PistonHeads Headlines - You Know You Want To... Alfa Romeo Montreal
This particular Montreal has the added draw of having once been owned by Yasmin LeBon (to all PHers who are under 35, she's a stunning former model who married Duran Duran frontman Simon LeBon. If you don't know who Duran Duran were, you're not missing much...). Described by its current owner as being 'in condition one, but not concours' this car appears to be completely original, having had no major work done to it, just the correct maintenance.

Alfa 4C - sub 2 litre sports mid-engine - to spawn both Maserati and Abarth versions?

Well it makes some sense to share, even if it rarely works: take one design and remodel and rebrand it several times (think Alfa 164 and its SAAB and Lancia cousins). In this case it's a low-volume "exclusive" mid-engine sports car, so they will have to be careful with the differentiation or the "exclusivity" will not wash at all...

On the good side, it's a 4 cylinder and relatively light and frugal for this level of performance. Why throw petrol away simply shifting needlessly porky pounds?

Maserati To Build Its Own Version Of Alfa Romeo 4C: Report
Both Alfa and Maserati have proven their ability to turn out fantastic exteriors and truly gorgeous interiors, things that have, at times, been lacking in the segment, even toward the upper end.

Pair that with the 4C's largely carbon fiber construction, a 200-horsepower turbocharged 1.75-liter four-cylinder and a curb weight below 1,800 pounds and you have something of the old Lotus born into an Italian body. What could go wrong with that formula? Even better, there's an Abarth Roadster version planned that will drop the top and bring the fight to the Boxster and its cohorts as well.

Alfa Romeo 4C U.S. Bound, Abarth Roadster Version Planned
Taking inspiration from the legendary 33 Stradale from 1967, the new 4C follows the route of limited weight, made possible by extensive use of carbon, which also plays a structural role and guarantees exceptional agility with a weight/power ratio which is lower than 9 pounds per horsepower. The low-slung sports car tips the scales at just 1,784 pounds and develops more than 200 horsepower from its direct injected and turbocharged 1.75-liter four-cylinder engine.

A classy European seen testing on US soil (OK, it's an Alfa Giulietta)

With the price of gas rising inexorably at the pumps the US market's taste for smaller, more efficient cars is growing. About time, I know. Just think about the billions of barrels effectively wasted all over the world by the motor industry's twin obsessions - OTT performance and "model evolution". Where model evolution means a small car becomes a much larger one over time, accruing extra weight via driver-distracting "features" and pork-focused "ease of use". Whilst European cars fall prey to up-sizing as well they are generally more effective packagers. Alfa is certainly one of the best at combining good performance with economy and practicality and dressing it up with some Italian style, so their re-appearance in the US makes sense.

Spied! Alfa Romeo Giulietta Testing on Michigan Streets - WOT on Motor Trend
Having just caught the Fiat Doblo testing in its backyard last week, our friends at Automobile recently spotted the Alfa Romeo Giulietta driving on U.S. soil – wearing manufacturer plates no less. Although parent company Fiat can’t seem to make up its mind about Alfa’s American comeback, this photo seems to substantiate the Italian automaker’s claim that the brand will return to the U.S. market by 2013.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Gasp - an almost "good" review for an Alfa. Still loaded with cliched prejudice, though

DISCLAIMER: I've always preferred smaller, more economical cars with some sporty, stylish flair. Brand doesn't matter that much - but Alfas generally seem to satisfy best. And they have been charming, reliable and solid performers.

But it seems that motor-noters just can't break free of the tired old cliches - they have to be trotted out again and again. Usually it's "trading on past glories", "all style no go", "long arms, short legs" or "not as well built or reliable as a...". At least they have shaken off the rust tag - I hope.

From my personal experience my 3 Alfas - 1982 GTV, 1981 Giulietta and 1989 33QV - were/are not as absolutely, boringly faultless as my Hyundais, Mazdas or Toyota but were/are more fun to own. And they were/are on a par with my somewhat fragile VW Golfs. From what I have seen and heard from friends that's pretty well how it is still. And FWIW my Toyota rusted faster than any Alfa I've ever owned....

Anyway, the review is mostly positive...
Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV
Finally, there's a worthy Italian alternative to some of the default hot-hatch choices, writes Bruce Newton.
Although it lapses into dangerous territory. What exactly was wrong with MiTo sharing a platform with FIAT's Punto? And which production car isn't a watered-down version of a concept?
Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV
The Giulietta QV is Alfa's latest attempt at Italian soul-stirring. Thankfully, it is neither a rehashed Fiat like the MiTo city car, nor a compromised production version of an exquisite concept such as the Brera coupe.
As for the Giulietta not being a "rehashed" FIAT, bear in mind that it's still a FIAT shared platform.... and design work started before the MiTo.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV
Alfa engines traditionally sing their way into the heavens, prepared to sacrifice some lower-end tractability to do so. But not in this case, with the rev limiter cutting in at just over 6000rpm.
"Traditionally" meaning when they are the smaller, shorter stroke motors and often in comparison with other, less sporty car makes. But not when thinking generally of Alfa engines which come in all shapes and styles of bore, stroke and piston number. I guess I could agree if I didn't drive an '82 GTV 2.0... which has a low-end torquey kind of engine.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV
The Giulietta QV is a modern Alfa Romeo that can wear the shield with pride. It's flawed, of course … hey, it's an Alfa. But little detracts from the fundamental quality of the engineering base and the package assembled atop it.
Not too bad over all.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chrysler invades Italy after FIAT boss strikes Torino deal; Alfa finally sells some cars (in Germany)

Truth is, FIAT now has a 25% stake in Chrysler so squeezing out some common platforms, smaller cars and longer production runs is important. Even if it means building Chryslers in Italia, or Alfas in North America. As for Alfa selling well in Germany, hasn't it always?  

A rare positive bit of Aussie press: First drive: Alfa Romeo Giuletta
Alfa Romeo says six different suspension tunes are applied throughout a range that is more expansive in Europe, with the sportiest set-up, suitably, reserved for the range-topping ‘Cloverleaf’ – or Quadrifoglio Verde as Alfa prefers.

It’s not overly firm, though – rather surprisingly supple. The ride gets fussier over patchy surfaces but it generally provides adequate comfort. Crucially, for a GTI rival, this is well balanced with the kind of accomplished handling that has been missing from Alfas for far too long.

The Cloverleaf’s 18-inch tyres generate the kind of grip that inspires confidence even on damp roads, while front-wheel traction is aided by Alfa’s Q2 electronic differential.
First drive: Alfa Romeo Giuletta
The so-called Multiair engine, which employs innovative electro-hydraulic inlet valve management and debuted in the MiTo late last year, is a little gem even with a manual.

It’s sluggish just off idle but, once past 1500 revs, a bountiful mid-range is there to be exploited. You won’t need to change gears frequently, which is ideal when the shift action, as with the Cloverleaf, isn’t entirely satisfying and the driver’s left foot has to rest under the clutch pedal because of a lack of footwell space or footrest.

Stop-start tech contributes to highly respectable efficiency of 5.8L/100km, and noise refinement is particularly impressive in the base Giulietta, with the smaller, 17-inch tyres even quieter than the Cloverleaf’s 18s over coarse surfaces.
Mangled English, pretty pictures: Alfa Romeo in the U.S. - Autocar Review on
The new compact Alfa has also driven sales in Europe, where he gained 32,000 customers, and only in Germany, the Italian brand has grown by 113.5%. And this year the same Wester raised its target to 100,000 units for Juliet, because the list is antrato -2 new 2.0 JTDM 140 bhp that exploiting the new generation of Common Rail Multijet system goes to stand in the middle of the range Juliet diesel, including the 1.6 105 hp and 170 hp 2.0 proposals already being launched.
Chrysler invades Italy: Jeep Compass and Patriot to be ''Fatto in Italia'' - Car News | Auto123
Sergio Marchionne got 54 percent of the workers at Fiat's Mirafiori factory in Turin to vote in favour of a groundbreaking contract that limits wildcat strikes and absenteeism around holidays. In exchange, the automaker will invest nearly $1.4 billion to modernize the plant.

As a result, Mirafiori will now produce the Jeep Patriot and Compass alongside the Alfa Romeo Giulia midsize sedan and station wagon, not to mention a midsize SUV. Production is scheduled to start in the third quarter of 2012, and both Chrysler and Fiat expect to benefit from economies of scale.