The Alfa Romeo 4C – the Skibinski thug of sports cars


Every school probably had one – a teenage thug who liked to pick on the little kids. Mine was called Skibinski. He was intelligent but could flip at the opening of a pencil case.

Skibinski was a wild child. He was mad, bad and dangerous and liked to administer punches to the back of the head – as well as offering a school ear-piercing service with his compass.

The 4C is the Skibinski of sports car. It has a Jekyll and Hyde character which requires careful handling. Tweak that accelerator too much and you’re going to open a real nest of vipors.

Few cars have demanded more respect in th last 12 months. The Lamborghini Huracan, McLaren 570S and Morgan Plus 8 were all considerably easier to drive and as much fun.

But the breathtaking looks and unpredictability of the 4C will tempt enthusiastic drivers every time. It’s a car for purists but not necessarily connoisseurs.

A total enigma from the moment you turn the key…

The Alfa 4C isn’t a surfboard but like a duck to water…


You know that feeling… You’re pootling down the motorway on a very wet November day when suddenly there’s a puddle of water in your path.

More lake-size than puddle actually – and the Alfa Romeo 4C has about three inches of ground clearance between it’s composite body and the great British Tarmac.

This is not a good moment to be in a car with no power assisted steering, massive wheels and huge amounts of power on tap.

Sideways in a 4C even at 40mph sharpens your senses. It’s another reason why you really have to know your driving skills to own a car like this.

It’s not a forgiving Golf R, or a BMW M3 for that matter. Get it wrong in a 4C and all hell breaks loose…

Grand Tour – everything we expected?


Anybody spot the Alfa 4C in the opening sequence of The Grand Tour? I was on the edge of my sofa watching those first few minutes unfold – then it all went a bit Pete Tong.

The rest of the Tour focussed to much on a three-way supercar battle, there just wasn’t enough variety  in the mix. The chemistry between the three chaps was still there but the show just seemed a bit too scripted.

Early days and we have to get used to the new format. Like the Alfa 4C, maybe I’m getting a bit long in the tooth for such silliness.

A long drive yesterday proved the 4C is really just a car for weekends and track days. It’s wildly uncomfortable on your ears, arms and arse. Brilliantly entertaining but just too extreme.

Everybody should drive a 4C at some point in their motoring life – it’s a bucket life moment. But that’s all it should be, a moment…

The Alfa 4C is the Mrs Trump of the motoring car world…


Just like Mrs Trump, the 4C is quite beautiful but it still doesn’t have much between the ears.

It’s motoring stripped back to basics. No heated seats, sat nav or power assisted steering – just the essentials to serve up lashings of fun (comparisons with La Trump will stop here).

The Alfa is often spectacular to drive too, engaging and demanding of your full attention. Then it frustrates you with its bad habits on cambered roads and mad noise levels.

Then there’s the steering wheel! What’s all that about? Cut flat at the bottom, it’s quite possibly the ugliest wheel this side of an Austin Allegro.

No wonder the 4C is so divisive. You really need to be in a good mood to drive it…

The Alfa Romeo 4C – deeply flawed but deeply wonderful…


If you drive a Porsche Cayman you may want to look away now. What you see on this page is a car more beautiful, more charismatic and yes, more yellow than anything from Stuttgart.

This is a car that carries the badge of Alfa Romeo, sounds like a Warrior tank on heat and will quite simply, blow you away.

During this week-long series of reports you will discover that the yellow peril is a fine car that is deeply flawed too. It has a mind of its own on cambered or rutted roads, the noise levels are quite ridiculous and the seats are way, way too hard.

Yet by next week I hope you might want own one. Not in Alfa Yellow, a very silly colour indeed but perhaps a shiny gunmetal.

More tomorrow when I’ve taken my medication…

Beautifully flawed but the Giulietta is an Alfa Romeo after all


I wheel a Globe-Trotter suitcase with me on flights these days. To be honest, it’s not lightest or the most practical trunk on the carousel but hell, does it look good.

If you want to experience suitcase envy, just buy a Globe-Trotter. You can feel the Tumi buyers wishing they had gone for style rather than whopping price tag.

My case wasn’t cheap either but I can forgive all its little foibles because it makes me feel fab. And that should be the philosophy when buying an Alfa Romeo.

You have to accept the car’s strange ways and embrace the uniqueness of something that isn’t a Golf. Once that’s achieved, you’ll always yearn for an Alfa Romeo.

DNA? Nothing to do with the family in an Alfa Romeo…


Italians love family more than EastEnders but the DNA switch in a Giulietta has nothing to do with the relations.

Everycar has to have driving modes these days it seems but the Alfa system was introduced way back in 2008.

Dynamic, normal or all-weather, it’s a neat way of changing the feel of the car at the flick of a switch.

It’s clever but I do long for a car that is one thing or the other – I don’t want to have to think about changing settings mid drive.

Sadly, I think most manufacturers are going this way. I was taught to drive more frugally by not pressing the accelerator so hard.

Now you can get the car to do it for you. I suppose that’s progress..

The Alfa Romeo Giulietta’s quirky ways will either amuse or frustrate you…


When I was 22, I rented a property on an estate where all the houses were the same. One day I came home, parked on the drive and went to open to front door.

For some reason, the key didn’t fit. Then I looked to my left and a strange man was looking at me out of the window… I’d driven into the wrong driveway – just because all the houses looked the same and I must have been on auto-pilot.

This is similar to sitting in the Giulietta for the first time. Everything looks sort of familar but it isn’t. The steering wheel is round and it has one of those sticks for changine gear, year the Alfa isn’t like a normal car.

In the short term this proves annoying, especially if you haven’t got the time to get acquainted. How do you mute the sat nav, why is the infotainment system complicated – and why do I turn the hazard warning lights on instead of adjusting the air vent?

This is pure Afla Romeo. The pedals are off-set and rather high – the seats have an old-fashioned lever adjustment, the list goes on…

It takes time but I like the Giulietta’s quirky ways. It was either designed by a very cool Italian – or somebody doing a lot of dope. Perhaps both – but either way, I like it.


Old Alfas don’t die – they just rust away. Thankfully, the latest Giulietta won’t


I should declare an interest from the start. The first car I bought was an Alfa Romeo GT Junior. To me it looked like a mini Jag (well it was the 1980s), came loaded with Italian promise and was painted a sexy shade of red.

I had swapped it for the eminently sensible Datsun 120Y, given to me by my father. The Japanese car never missed a beat but was soulless. And bright orange.

Naturally I sold the Datsun when he wasn’t looking to bring the Alfa home. It was 12-years-old and riddled with rust. Soon things started to drop off and the front wings had been stuffed with filler.

Eventually, the Junior died on the driveway, the brakes locked up and it trashed the tarmac surface when a lorry came to tow it away.

I should know better but just the mention of Alfa still brightens my day. The Golf-sized Giulietta is far prettier than anything from VW, Ford or Vauxhall.

All those marques offer equally good cars but most of them cost more. They won’t make you feel good like an Alfa either, or prove quite so entertaining when the road clears ahead of you.

I know for sure that this top spec Super isn’t going to rust too…

The Aston Martin Rapide could make financial sense – if you keep it a lifetime


In theory, there’s absolutely no reason to own another car. Apart from any all-wheel drive ability, the Aston Martin Rapide has got every box on the ‘must have’ list ticked.

Exclusivity, jaw-dropping looks, a supercar engine and even a hint of practicality with those four bucket sports seats and four doors too. Hell, the boot can even take a couple of bags.

Yes, you might query the depreciation but if you keep this glorious V12 for a lifetime, I guarantee it will be worth a small fortune when you come to cash in your tax-free pension with George Osborne.

This is a future classic. More so than the Vanquish because there are so few Rapides out there. A gem of supercar that deserves a place in your garage.