Daring to love an Alfa.

I got some great dating advise form an ex-boyfriend of mine today. I've been single for over five years and have begun to really look and panic at the state of my love life. In talking to him I saw that I have always been afraid of getting too involved. I go into every date looking at how it can go wrong. He asked me if I ever imagined how right to could be. I had to pause and really give his question some thought. "No", was my honest answer. That was about six hours ago and I've been sitting with that realization all day. I feel a little sad and a little stupid. Could that really be the missing cog in my love life? Go in imagining the good, rather than the bad?

This concept has also given me a way into this month's blog. Alfa Romeo is a company I have been itching to discuss but never really knew how to bring it up until now. You see, the Alfa Romeo Giulia is a car I have avoided looking at because of my own biased assumptions that this car would be another disappointing effort from the Italian company.

As a car enthusiast, I had given up on the brand. The 156 was a competitor to the E46 3-series back in the day but being front wheel drive meant its ability was always lacking compared to its German rivals. Then Alfa saddled the 159 with a heavy, compromised platform and let it sink along with the Brera and Spider. We had hope when we saw the beautiful 8C and then disappointment with the 4C. Alfa kept missing the mark and yet every automotive journalist held their breath with every car launch. Maybe the next new car would be the one to change everything.

Then came the Giulia in 2016. This car was the first fruits of a 5 billion investment plan aimed at re-launching the brand. The Giulia was the first Alfa saloon to have a longitudinal rear-wheel drive platform in over twenty years. Did this mean they were serious? Finally, here was a car with a basic platform that could go toe-to toe with BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and to a lesser extent Audi. Having full independent suspension helped. But would that be enough? Would I pick this car over the Mercedes E63 or BMW M4? If you were to ask me this last week, I would have said no. But right now, I am not so sure.

The German cars are great. The Mercedes is rocket ship fast and makes a great noise. The M4, now that BMW have revised the car repeatedly, is a very fast, if still slightly wayward beast. But the Alfa has more. In its Quadrifoglio specification, the Giulia has a magnificant V6 that is related to the Ferrari V8 powering the California. It has the iconic four leaf clover that has arguably more racing heritage that AMG and the M-division combined. It has proper steering that every car journalist has raved about. It is a car about passion, speed and feeling. Raw emotion. How very Italian. This is the car I want to hear. This is the car I want to rev to the red line. This is the car I want to connect with.

Yet to say this is crazy. It is not a perfect car. The interior and electronics lag well behind rivals. The front end looks rather bland to me and I really don't like the rear exhausts. Most of all, the question around reliability and dealer service remains unanswered. How reliable will this car be in the real world? Car journalist have the luxury to drive and race them, fresh off the assembly line and then hand back the keys. I wonder how many would put their money where their mouth is and actually buy one with their own money. Would I buy one if I had the money?

As a car enthusiast, my heart would say "yes" and my head and wallet would scream "no". Being single for so long and afraid to commit had me imagining the safer option and buying that M4, with a BMW warranty. Driving it home telling myself it was the best car for me. Marvelling at the latest generation iDrive and myriad of suspension setting, driving modes and interior lighting. It's badge and quality would impress family and friends alike. Then, I imagine an early morning drive, up the mountains of Italy or Wales. This M4 would confuse and dilute the experience through all its electronics and struggle to put its power down effectively. The firm suspension battling against the road surface and the soulless whirls and artificial pops of the S55 turbo-charged straight six filling the cabin. Sure it would be fast and exciting but would it be pure, unadulterated driving pleasure? Would this car dance like the Alfa? Would its engine scream as it hits the high rev points? Not according to most car publications. The Giulia Quadrifoglio has been a deserved success for Alfa and points to a renewed future. The time, effort  and money appears to have paid off.

For me this car points to something else, it represents the courage it takes to love something or someone that may not be perfect. It points to being open to the unexpected. It reminds me that the real joy of driving comes from passion and connection. And that passion can be recreated and shared with another person. That is what I want in a relationship. I would rather commit wholeheartedly, love and argue with passion, knowing that it is worth fighting for. Alfa has proven it is worth fighting for and that is enough to convince me to change my outlook on it and relationships. Imagining myself owning a Giulia no longer feels like the wrong choice but rather the inspired one. The one I may fear and possibly regret, but on my deathbed I can smile at the memories and knowing I dared to love an Alfa.

 

Alfa Romeo Giulia image from carmagazine.co.uk