Tag Archive | "Alfa Romeo"

The Future of Sports Cars

“The pursuit of high performance is over, Grasshopper. Accept that the seeds of our destiny are nurtured by the roots of our past. The truth lies at your local Mazda dealer.” These being the wise words of Master Po – (look it up if you are a non-believer).

The facts are these: Our roads are full to the brim with traffic and regulated beyond imagining by many laws. The cost of motoring is such that most drivers are seeking new answers to be able to stay on the roads at all. If you cannot afford a powerful sports car it doesn’t matter so much but even if you can, in the UK at least, you won’t be able to use much of that performance in any meaningful way.

It didn’t use to be like this. There was a time when driving was a simple pleasure and boy-racers everywhere strove to get their 0-60 time below a pedestrian ten seconds. In short, cars weren’t especially fast and yet motoring was fun. Owning a useable sports car (and discounting the fragile supercars of the time) meant driving a Triumph Spitfire or an MGB and savouring the open road. No doubt those good chaps at Mazda at some point noticed the demise of the small affordable roadster and came up with the wonderful MX5. In various iterations this great car has been with us since 1989 and yet it has never been bettered in its class.

With sales approaching one million, Mazda have re-worked the car and the latest version is the best yet, although some say it has become a bit soft as it nods towards modern requirements. There it is in the picture. As before it’s the usual front engine, rear-wheel drive layout and the oily bits remain pretty much the same. There’s a 1.8L developing 124bhp, ideal for cruising, or a more powerful 2.0L with 158bhp – which is more than enough in a small, light car – for those whose right foot gets twitchy at the sight of a snaking black-top. The MX5 does have some new additions, though, the most important being a new pedestrian protection system of the pop-up bonnet type. All this and approaching 40mpg as well – as long as you are not too heavy footed.

In an interesting new development Mazda has gone and got itself engaged to that Italian floozy, Alfa Romeo. It seems that Alfa want to sell a version of the next generation MX5 but dress it in in one of their floaty frocks. Hairdressers should rejoice. Italian styling with Japanese reliability – it has just got to be a winner.

So, the MX5 – not especially quick then, but today it doesn’t really matter, does it? This car is about good old down-to-earth driving pleasure. In these days of self-driving Euro-boxes that’s got to worth something to any driver with blood in their veins; and it should cost less than £25k for a new one depending on the model. Driving enjoyment in 21st Century Britain.

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New Cars, Concepts And Rumours

Regardless of what the world thinks of Alfa Romeo there can be no denying that they really know how to style a car. This time they have let twenty ‘Master in Transportation Design’ students loose on the drawing boards. The prototype sports saloon so dramatically pictured is what they have come up with.

It is codenamed ‘Gloria’ although why they would want to name a car after the barmaid down at the Ferret and Trousers Public House is not known. What is known is that it is absolutely gorgeous and that AR should rush it into production, like right now. In the meantime, now that the flawed but beautiful 159 has gone, they will be selling the new Guilia saloon from 2014 into the executive sector.

Staying in Italy it seems clear that Dacia’s assault on the European market with budget priced cars has rather aggravated directors at mighty FIAT. As a consequence, rather than leaving a beef lasagne in the beds of Dacia staff as a warning, they are now considering a rival low-cost new car.

In the knowledge that premium car sales are flatlining and with some manufacturers in trouble the company thinks that dormant build capacity outside of Europe could be used for a suitable vehicle with an eye especially on developing markets. The rumour is the cars could be branded Innocenti, a budget marque that FIAT purchased in 1990.

After the Geneva Show fans of cabriolets will be able to get their hands on the terrific Vauxhall Cascada that Motor Blogger featured a while back but on the concept front they appear to be getting down with the kids with the Adam Rocks. The Adam, Vauxhall’s new small car has been well received so the company is showing the Rocks as a possible advance on the model.

It’s apparently an ‘urban mini-crossover’ that could well herald yet another sector within the industry as car makers strive to boost sales with variants. The Adam Rocks is taller, wider, tougher yet more compact allegedly (How?) than its sibling and offers a cabrio roof. Certainly the Adam is almost infinitely customisable so where are they going to go with this? In addition Vauxhall intend to take the Adam rallying with an R2 version that meets FIA regulations and can be set up for tarmac or gravel conditions. Interesting.

Finally, for now, Peugeot have a strategy for reducing fuel consumption with its Hybrid Air technology that follows on from our recent article about compressed air cars. The 2008 Hybrid Air combines petrol with compressed air in a fully hybrid configuration. This, Peugeot say, moves forward their plan to one day soon achieve 140mpg. The sooner the better as far as Britain’s motorists are concerned.

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Thirteen For 13

Are you superstitious? Would you be entirely happy with the number 13 on your car? Well, unless you can find a way around it – as suggested by Motor Blogger last year – you are just going to have to lump it. Our unwavering government have no intention of ditching this year’s series just to please the likes of you.

Never mind. At least there is going to be a fantastic selection of new cars that you could attach to the back of your new number plate. Honda, for example, are planning a new SUV in line with current trends that will be pitched into the gap between the Civic and the CRV. An interesting point is that it may feature Honda’s next-generation hybrid technology.

If you’re feeling flush with cash you could push the boat out and treat yourself to Jaguar’s forthcoming F Type. This may well be the most anticipated car of the year; full of lovely supercharged goodness. Too tame for your wallet? Fair enough. How about the long-awaited replacement for the Enzo, the F70. Or will it be the F150? We’ll see what Ferrari decide although Ford America won’t be too happy as that’s the designation for their new pick-up!

Back in the real world Fiat are offering the 500L. We’ve mentioned this before. Basically it’s a 500 on steroids. Presumably this is designed to rival the giant Mini and word has it that this could be one of the year’s best sellers. As indeed could the 500 Coupé , a cheeky 2+2 version of the perennial favourite. Meanwhile over the border in France, Citroen’s successful DS3 is taking it’s top off, or at least rolling it up – a feature that really suits this star car.

For hot hatch fans Ford will be selling the long awaited Fiesta ST, sporting at least 180bhp. If a suitable family car is more to your requirements then there’s a new package with the latest Kia Carens SUV (pictured) – the words on the grapevine are ‘surprise’ and ‘delight’. Not content to settle for one new car, the same company will present their first hot hatch in the UK. The Cee’d GT. Boasting a muscular 200bhp it looks like a rival for the ST.

Winner of this year’s daft name award is the mighty Maserati Kubang. Effectively a Ferrari powered Jeep in an Italian designer frock it’s a new departure for a company that is slowly resurrecting its image. The trouble is – is it a car too far for a company noted for beautiful design? The official Kubang website is showing a wonderful old and evocative short film called ‘A story that will overcome time’. Worth a look.

Mazda’s 6 is a good and popular choice, especially if you are not badge conscious but now they’ve produced a coupé version that’s a real looker. Let’s hope it gives a boost to this underrated manufacturer. If you do like a badge then Mercedes are refreshing the E-Class. Not earth-shattering in itself but the company are saying it will be packed with cutting edge technology under the banner ‘intelligent drive’.

In fact, there will be something like sixty new or updated cars being sold or announced in the coming year, but in this brief article there is only one car that can finish of the list. Will we finally be able to get our hands on the Alfa Romeo 4C? Live in hope.

So there you have it – thirteen cars for 2013. So don’t worry your heads about the reputation of the number 13. You know what they say – lucky for some!

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Alfa Plan A Better Future

It has been said many times that to be a true petrolhead you must have owned an Alfa Romeo. This is true. Possessing an Alfa is like being married to your dream partner but in the certain knowledge that it will all end in tears.

Take the original Alfasud. No, please, take it. This was the company’s first front wheel drive car and it was touched with genius. It made the equivalent cars in the UK – like the Allegro – look shabby and nasty, which they were. It drove as if on rails. Sure, the seating position was a bit awkward, as it was clearly designed for Italian men with short legs and long arms, but overall it was fabulous: except for one thing. Rust. These cars rusted in real time; you could actually see it happen. Not many of them about now, alas.

Moving on to more recent times, the company gave us the exquisite 159. This car has got to be one of the greatest automotive design masterpieces, ever. Just to stand next to it was enough. Yet there was always a niggle in the back of the mind about Alfa’s reliability record. The company has moved on in leaps and bounds and yet … it’s a worry. Also this car was heavy and ate front tyres for breakfast. Meanwhile, Alfa’s present offerings, the Mito and Giulietta, look great but don’t exactly set the world on fire.

Now Sergio Marchionne, boss at FIAT, the brand’s parent company, has had enough of this dubious reputation. Changes are afoot. Within the next two years the 159 replacement will arrive resurrecting the iconic name of Giulia. There’s a suggestion of what it will look like in the snap, above. Fab, isn’t it? Mr Marchionne wants to finally put the past away in a big box and sees this car as a genuine rival to the BMW 3-Series and the Audi A4.

Not content with this, Alfa plan an assault over the next few years across the various sectors of cars on offer. Already hyped to the max is the wholly desirable 4C, a Cayman rivalling sports car due out in 2013. Initially it will be a coupé with a convertible version to follow. If the expected price tag of £40k is a bit strong for you then look forward to the new small sports car, nominally called the Spider, which is based on the tried and tested chassis and running gear of the Mazda MX5 but with an Alfa designed body and motor. Sadly, we’ve got to wait until 2015 for that one.

For the family man – and yes, it has come to this – Alfa Romeo are building a Crossover for the SUV market. Purists will no doubt throw themselves under its wheels in protest when it comes out in 2014 unless the looks can change their minds. Additionally the company will introduce a revised Mito around the same time.

There can be no argument that Alfa Romeo always seem to be able to design great looking cars. It’s the oily bits underneath that cause the concerns. All that is going to change though. By collaborating with FIAT, Chrysler and Mazda we can only hope that the dubious reputation of the past will be replaced with buyers speaking of Alfa Romeo in the same breath as BMW or Mercedes. Real petrolheads can’t wait.

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