Thursday – Another Lingering Goodbye

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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.

Wednesday – TB Or Not TB

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Alfa Romeo might not thank me for saying so but secondhand Giulietta‘s look like great value to me. I would have opted for diesel every time if I was buying – until I tried out this white 1.4 TB petrol.

I’ve driven the Volkswagen Golf with a 1.4 TSI and despite being quick, it just doesn’t pack the excitement you want from a relatively small, high performance engine.

The difference is that DNA switch by the gearstick. In ‘Normal’ mode the Alfa is  Golf-like. Push the lever forward to ‘Dynamic’ and the Giulietta surges forward with an instant, unmistakable rush.

I honestly thought it was a gimmick when the car arrived. Then I realised it’s what sets the Alfa apart. Perhaps the only question is, why isn’t DNA active all the time?

The fuel gauge is almost on red now. We’ve been averaging 39mpg most of the week. Final thoughts on this great car tomorrow.

 

 

Sunday – Bride Or Prejudice

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There are still a surprising number of  people who don’t know how to get in the back of a Giulietta. Sometimes you can see it coming… These are the people who opt to sit in the back, then open the front door and get cross because the driver’s seat doesn’t  roll forward enough!

There was a wedding at the White Lion in Aldeburgh last night and this morning, one of the guests tracked me down. Not because I had flirted with the bride but because he was on the verge of buying a VW Golf GTI and wanted to check out the competition. Naturally, I obliged.

While I complimented him on his choice of car, I was also keen to see what he thought of the Alfa, in a non prejudicial way. I think it was fair to say he was blown away. Once he had checked out the back seats, I took him for a drive for a few miles up the Suffolk coastline.

He played with all the buttons, loved the optional Bose sound system, cooed at the outrageously alternative dash and then gave me his verdict.

Class-leading hatchback with rock solid residuals (Golf) versus cool-looking Italian rock star car (Giulietta)? Naturally, he’s off to his Alfa dealer tomorrow…

Saturday – White Riot

cropped-alfa1.jpgThe White Lion at Aldeburgh is right on the beach. It’s painted white, the same as our Giulietta and, just like the Alfa, is rather well equipped inside.

I spent breakfast this morning staring out of the dining room window at the sea. Or to be honest, rather longingly at the Giulietta which had just whisked me here from the West Country.

The 150-mile journey is one of my least favourite – tortuous might be a better description. What the Alfa did last night more than any other car was take me back to my teenage years, when my 1971 Alfa GT Junior was the vehicle parked outside the family home.

The Giulietta is a throughly modern Alfa Romeo but there’s still more than a trace of ‘old school’ Alfa DNA about it. The ribbed leather seats, the speedometer dials labelled in Italian and the timeless Alfa grille, to name but a few.

The 1.4-litre TB engine is a revelation too – how did they squeeze so much performance out of such a modest unit? No wonder it was New Engine of the Year in 2012.

I’ve never liked white cars but like the drive to the White Lion last night, because of the Giulietta, I’m warming to them all the time.

Friday – Red Alfa v Orange Nissan

alfa2It was the start of a lifelong love of sports cars – and it started with Alfa Romeo. While Jessica was riding horses around the family estate, I was getting into serious trouble with my father, selling a ‘safe’ Datsun 120Y in sunburst orange (eek!) for a rust bucket Italian car.

Not just any Italian car but an Alfa Romeo GT Junior. It was red, with optional holes in the floor that probably weren’t there when it originally left the factory in Milan. I can’t tell you how much that car cost me but it eventually rusted to the driveway. I can tell you it was a lot of fun.

Alfa Romeo is no longer laden with a rusty reputation. And in the UK right now, the Giulietta and Mito supermini are their two rather sporty models.

Slipping behind the wheel of our Giulietta still gives me the same buzz as when I was an 18-year-old. Just like the GT Junior. I can spot the flaws too! The steering column that doesn’t adjust low enough, a slightly cramped rear space and a rather uncomfortable driving position.

But it doesn’t matter a jot. I know the next seven days are going to be fun and I can’t wait. A 300-mile round trip to Suffolk seems a good way to start…