The car, as we know it, is not going to be around for much longer, so let’s enjoy our Alfa Romeos while we can.
I am sure you’ve heard the old ‘you are not a true petrolhead until you have owned an Alfa Romeo’ adage. I don’t know who started it, but it must have been someone looking to sell an Alfa who had a way with words.
The truth is, he or she wasn’t wrong. An Alfa Romeo is a special kind of car and Alfa is a special kind of brand. Often on the brink of disaster, it always seems to pull itself back up and move forward. Moreover, its back catalogue is filled with some of the most beautiful cars ever made and, where racing is concerned, Alfa Romeo is one of the greats as well, having won the first ever Formula One championship and dominated countless times some of the most important road races of the past, namely the Mille Miglia or the Targa Florio.
Ten years ago, the Alfa range was magnificent, but only from a design standpoint. The Mito, 147 (Giulietta from 2010), 159, Brera and the Spider all looked amazingly good – still do today, in fact – but the driving experience did not match the looks. The chassis were getting on a bit and the engines were not class leading in any discernible level.
And, of course, they were all front-wheel drive. Things were not going well and Alfa decided it needed a small revolution – once again. And so here we are today: The FWD Giulietta is still alive, but the new Alfas are all rear-wheel drive and much better than before. The Giulia and the Stelvio are right up there with the best when it comes to the driving experience and the 4C is, well, the most beautiful car you can buy today.
As you have probably realised by now, this is not the typical review I do week in, week out. That’s because I drove the two most spectacular Alfa Romeos on sale in a matter of weeks and I wanted to write about them both, but not as I usually do. The Giulia Quadrifiglio and the 4C Spider Italia are not cars you buy with your mind; you buy them with your heart. And the car industry is in need of a little heart right now.
I wasn’t feeling like writing about these cars in a purely rational way. For those who want rational, here it is: you want a car that does everything right, will never let you down and is the paradigm of a machine supposed to take us from A to B? Buy a Golf. Need a little extra performance? Buy a Golf GTI. That’s it.
Alfa Romeos are not about that. They are more on the emotional side.
I had driven the Giulia Quadrifoglio before, but not for long. This time I called it mine for four whole days and, man, what days they were. I loved it. I mean, come on, there’s a Ferrari engine under the bonnet, a chassis so playful it puts the Germans to shame and a personality that is absolutely unique.
The twin-turbo V6 puts out 510 horse-power through either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic gearbox and I can tell you this one thing: this is not a car for poseurs. No, siree: this is a driver’s car. Get it wrong and it will bite you. Obviously, this means that when you get it right, the rewards the Quadrifoglio gives back are like no other sports saloon out there.
It really is a magical car, a future classic and a reason to put our faith back in Alfa Romeo once again. The thing is, it’s not even my favourite Alfa these days. That accolade goes to the 4C Spider, a car I have written about in these pages before and that I drove once more a couple of weeks ago.
This time it was the limited-edition Italia model. In the absolutely wonderful shade of Misano Blue. The 4C has constantly been updated throughout its life cycle and each time I drive one, it feels better than the last. This Italia felt spectacular.
240 horse-power are more than enough in a 900kg car and the noise from the Akrapovic exhaust is a dream come true for anyone who loves cars. On a mountain road, with the sun in the sky and a beach destination in sight, the 4C is almost unbeatable.
So, what do I want to say with this text? Well, as the market is shifting to hybrids and pure electric cars, the days of the combustion engine are drawing to a close, so I guess what I want to say is, enjoy them if and while you can. No other product has changed the lives of so many people like the car. From a necessity, it became the stuff of dreams and pushed man’s ingenuity far beyond what we thought possible.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio and the 4C are two of the best ways to make every drive, every journey, every road count. They are also a fitting tribute to something we call driving pleasure. Enjoy it while you can.