Maybe we’re spoilt because the test cars that are delivered to Car Couture are generally top of the range, or well specified. Journalists are fickle creatures, after all, and easily persuaded by the allure of leather seats and bum warmers.
So driving the SE model of the IS300h has been slightly tainted by the lack of leather and, perhaps even more surprising, the heated seats that are conspicuous in their absence. We’ve just become so used to pressing a button and feeling the warmth filter up from our seats.
My grandfather was actually the man who invented heated seats – he used to park his backside on hot water bottle with the tiniest drop of hot water inside. He was brilliant my grandfather – we could have made a fortune if Ford had heard of it.
These days, cars like the Range Rover and expensive BMWs have a heated steering wheel as standard. My grandfather probably never thought about an invention for that one but it probably would have includes rags and Selotape.
The last Alfa Romeo I waved goodbye to was welded to my father’s driveway. The 1971 GT Junior came from an era when Italian cars had more rust holes than Swiss cheese. It was lifted onto a scrap lorry and never seen again…
There was a hint of the same feeling when the driver arrived to collect the Giulietta this afternoon. Some cars just get under your skin – some cars don’t. You have to be passionate about driving to own an Alfa, or you may as well buy a Ford and talk about fuel economy.
Yes, it’s not perfect – our earlier reports warned drivers of the perils of tiny, Italianate foot pedals. Then there are the niggly little things, like a sun visor that is either up or down, with no stopping in-between.
Jessica found an rather wicked blind spot on the driver’s side, I loathe the ‘beep-beep’ alarm warning that is so 1980s and the seats that require you to supply your own padding.
But hey, this is an Alfa Romeo and you just learn to live with it – and enjoy a family hatchback that looks like no other, is powered by a remarkable 1.4 petrol engine and puts a little passion back into your daily drive to the office.
Jeremy Anybody who remembers the last generation Swift Sport might have feared the change to this current model a couple of years ago would water down the fun. Not a bit of it.
I’ve found it much more fun than the popular Ford Fiesta Zetec S – it also looks that little bit different to the ubiquitous Ford which I’ve seen several of already today.
The six-speed gearbox fitted in the latest version makes for a much more usable drive, quieter motorway speeds and improved performance. It also squeezes out a few more mpg, although you might struggle to achieve the 44mpg claimed because the Suzuki encourages drivers to push along.
On the down side, the boot is tiny! It looks slightly bigger than the Vauxhall Adam but not by much. You can fold down the back seats easily enough and increase the load area to 500 litres but four people and their luggage won’t fit!