The new Alfa: not for petrolheads
April 13, 2010 10:34 AM  |  Posted By: Stephen Dobie
7 Comments  |  3941 Views
Related Categories: Random car stuff

Evo’s designer recently blogged on what makes a petrolhead (read it here). Having mused over Clarkson’s point that to be a true car nut, you need to – at one point or another – own an Alfa Romeo, our Shorrock shunned the curly-haired one’s thoughts.

It’s one of Clarkson’s opinions I actually find myself nodding along with, though. Traditionally Alfas have majored on character and emotion, cars that pull you into them before slapping you in the face with unpolished dynamics and fragile build. That raw mix of personality and pain makes a car undeniably compelling, one that arguably only hardcore petrolheads have the patience to explore.

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.

It’s not a petrolhead’s car. Does that mean it’s not a proper Alfa?

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CuoreSportivo at 8:36 PM April 14, 2010

Alfa, seemingly, can't win in the UK. They offer a host of good-looking and characterful cars, but some of them have questionable build (although I'd be interested to compare the reality to the Daily Mail hype). So they react by sorting that out with a new generation of properly screwed together motors, and that's not right either. So how is this worse than anything VAG want to flog us? What's the soul or character of a Golf or A3? If you want reliability, a Skoda will spank either of the VAG candidates (yes, it's a stablemate). Sheesh, I am a subscriber and a fan of Evo, but it just seems that if it ain't VAG or Bimmer, it's nowhere. Sad.

adamcot at 11:31 AM April 14, 2010

Unpolished dynamics and fragile build don't sell cars. I'm not really sure Alfa can win, they get slated for producing cars with "charector" but don't get people from A to B. Then they get slated for building a car that actually works. Shame really, I like the Giulietta.

alfisti at 9:16 PM April 13, 2010

anyone who buys an alfaromeo Giulietta can easily refer to his head and heart not just his heart as previous days so no one can complain anymore!! so thats a proper petrolhead alfa car

Bezza at 1:54 PM April 13, 2010

Alfas have been pretty woeful for some time now. I owned an Alfasud in 1990 and it was the best FWD car I have ever owned for steering and ride, yes it even has the edge on pure handling over our current 205 GTI 1.9. Since then Alfas have lived off their looks and heritage and the fact that idiots like Clarkson reckon you cant be a proper petrol head unless you've owned one. The original 156 was probably the last really decent drivers car they made and even that struggled to out handle a bog standard 2 litre Mondeo.

Newfavorite at 12:31 PM April 13, 2010

Let's look at Alfas in the period of the late 1950s-late70s. In those days, Alfas were not only gorgeous to look at, but they drove great too (lightweight, rear drive, powerful, characterful engines, lovely interior styling, etc). And I think this is what the Alfa myth is based on. Of course, the racing pedigree and marketing from those days (super cool Italian dudes hanging their fags from the window, driving down an impossibly beautiful B-road, etc) simply added to the myth. It was real then. But while this myth has lived on, modern Alfas no longer quite fit this bill for the serious petrolhead, looks aside, perhaps. But I think Alfa is marketing to a different crowd these days. So I think to be a true petrolhead, one should go out there and find a 1968 Giulia GTV and marvel at its lightweight dynamics, gorgeous styling and...give the new cars a miss.

Gazoo at 11:58 AM April 13, 2010

I would buy an Alfa because of the attention to gorgeousness. The Guilietta is not gorgeous, it's not even particularly good looking with it's stupid looking face and bulky flanks! Especially compared to the 147, which is I think is the best looking hatchback ever! I'm sure a GTA version would improve things though?

Ayo0 at 11:40 AM April 13, 2010

I don't want a car to have a flaw so it can have "character". But Alfa needs this car so they can have money and a better image....THEN bring out a petrolhead's car. I like the Giulietta.

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