Giulia on Stilettos

So recently, Alfa Romeo released the Giulia, a sporty four-door sedan to do battle with the likes of the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4. What is incredible is that all the Giulias will be rear-wheel-drive (RWD) and will come optional with all-wheel-drive (AWD) for the European market. The point is, it is refreshing that Alfa Romeo did not go with the normal front-wheel-drive (FWD) layout and AWD for sporty versions layout that most manufacturers use these days. Even Ford has resorted to AWD in its Focus RS.

Another good thing is that not only does the sporty Quadrofoglio Verde version (my personal favourite) comes with a carbon driveshaft (the bit that goes from the engine to the drive-wheels that makes the car go), but the normal versions as well – even the Diesel!

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Now, one car will not be able to bring Alfa back to the top of the ‘Passionate-Cars’ category. Like Jaguar has done recently with the F-Pace (silly name), Alfa Romeo unveiled the new Stelvio  (shown below), a take on the smaller SUV segment. Its styling is heavily influenced by the Giulia and to me looks like a Giulia on stilettos. But I like it. It’s just as pretty as its smaller sister and I imagine that it will have the same 2.9L Bi-Turbo V6 producing as much power as a BMW E60 M5. Imagine that – 375KW in a car the size of the F-Pace (if the F-Pace had the monstrous 5.0L Supercharged V8 from the XFR or Range Rover Supercharged, which would be awesome). Yes, most other SUVs get more than that, like the X5M and X6M, Mercedes and all its different versions of the used-to-be ML – even Land Rover itself. But, do you get that power from anything as pretty as the Stelvio or the Giulia? No, no, you do not. I mean, look at those hood vents! I really hope they make it to the production car.

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I always liked Alfa Romeo. I thought of it as the Ferrari for normal people who can’t afford a Ferrari. Then Top Gear praised Alfa Romeo and I liked it even more. The 147 GTA was one of the best cars on Gran Turismo 4. Heck, I think I still have a 300KW version on one of my PS2 saves. The 156 is just as pretty, especially later models – and then there is the 159, which I am actually looking at to buy as a first car (Yes, I know about all the various problems).

So yes, the Stelvio. No one knows how it will drive yet, or if it will be able to go off-road, but damn, is it pretty! Even if it only stays in the city like some kind of soccer-mom car *cough* Range Rover *cough*, I am just glad that it is a thing that exists.

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The Return of Italian Passion

(hopefully anyway)

So a few months back we caught sight of a new car. A car that looked visually striking – not to mention beautiful – and we heard that it will be Ferrari inspired. This got me very excited. In my mind, the image of a practical, everyday-use Ferrari that isn’t a Ferrari FF or made sense. Having a two-door coupé with lots of space or a family sedan with an Italian engine note sounded like the perfect everyday car.

This car premiered in June 2015, almost a year ago, and the first few cars have already been produced. A few months ago, a launch-type event was held for it and a well-known car YouTuber, Shmee150, was among the first to drive it (lucky bastard).

The car in question? The new Alfa Romeo Guilia Quadrifoglio Verde, or Giulia QV for short. Quite a mouthful.  This car, in my opinion, is one of those cars that you cannot believe actually exists. It is pretty from every angle, the interior is beautiful, the noise is awesome and it’s an everyday sedan with a Ferrari-‘inspired’ heart. This may well be the best looking car I have ever seen, even prettier than the Mercedes SLS or Pagani Huayra (which are two of my favourite cars). Alfas of old displayed this type of motoring passion and thus produced cars that spoke to you. Ferrari sort of still has this, but lost most of it when they decided to sell caps and after-shave. The little passion Lamborghini has left is locked away in an Audi vault, but luckily some of it escapes and makes its way into a car. Maserati still has most of their passion, but they keep trying to pump most of it into their awesome-sounding V8s. Alfa Romeo lost theirs slightly and tried to get it back with the 4C (which backfired) and now it seems like they are gaining it back.

Now, specs. The car will come with different engines, including a diesel and a two-litre petrol, but the one I am most interested in is the full Clover Leaf, the Quadrifoglio. This version will have a 2.9L Bi-Turbo V6, ‘inspired’ by Ferrari, 375KW (503BHP) and 606NM (447 lb-ft) of torque. The thing that makes this even better is that all of this power is going to the rear wheels! Some markets will get all-wheel-drive, but the RWD should be a lot of fun. There are two gearbox options, a 6-speed manual with a clever upshift mechanism and an 8-speed ZF automatic. Unfortunately, only the left-hand-drive version will get the manual (America…), so us South Africans will be stuck with a boring old, fast-shifting, efficient and overall better auto ‘box.

You might have noticed that I kept saying ‘inspired’ by Ferrari. Well this is because the engine isn’t from Ferrari themselves, but rather the fact that former Ferrari engineers worked on it. Ferrari were actually the ones who insisted that Alfa use “inspired” because they are afraid the car will backfire and the brand’s name would be shamed. This has happened before with Deadmau5’s ‘Purrari’ 458 Italia…

All in all, I do honestly believe that this is one of the most beautiful modern cars – along with the Mercedes AMG GT S of course – on the road. Well, it will be in 2017 anyway. It has a better noise than an M3 and more power than a stock C63, but the same as the C63S. The only problem with it might be the price. Most of the reviews I read or watched said that this car would be around £60,000 (R1.35m). That is a lot of money.

Alfa Romeo as a car company has always tried to elicit an emotional response when it comes to their automobiles. They try to build a car that speaks to your soul and that makes you slightly excited with their curved lines, beautiful performance engines and overall striking look. With this ‘talking to the soul’ stuff comes the problem of reliability, especially with Alfa Romeos – most notably in the form of the GTV6. This car is striking to look at – its engines one of the best and its overall performance made it one of the most sought-after cars when it was produced. Only to let the owner stand on the hard shoulder of the road with steam coming out of the bonnet. Luckily many of them had Monaco to look out over whilst waiting for a tow truck. Despite this, people like Jeremy Clarkson owned a GTV6 and admitted that even though that car had cost him lots of money on repairs and tows, he still regrets ever selling it.

The Giulia is a beautiful automobile and, from all the reviews I’ve read, quite a driver’s car. Let’s just hope that Alfa knows how to market it…