5 July 2003
The Alfa male
Kim du Toit would love to have a Giulia.
And can you blame him? I can't. Yeah, the engine is ancient the 1.3 DOHC four goes all the way back to the '54 Giulietta and yeah, it's built with all the craftsmanship you expect from Italian cars, which is to say none, and what's more, it's not even gorgeous. (The Duetto convertible version built by Pininfarina is gorgeous, but that's not the one he wants.)
Not that any of that matters when you get it out on the road. The little engine revs like crazy and the suspension keeps you on curves that would throw more mundane vehicles into the guardrail. Or so I'm assuming, anyway; that's been the case with every Italian car I've ever driven, even the bottom-feeder fwd Fiat Strada. There's only 90 hp to play with, but the car weighs barely more than a ton, even a couple hundred pounds lighter than BMW's reborn Mini Cooper, so quickness and litheness are baked into the package.
Alfa is coming back to the States, perhaps by 2007, and they're promising a "full range" of cars, to include something vaguely SUV-like, but the idea will be to position Alfa as a premium Eurobrand, so there's not much chance of a budget buzz bomb in the Giulia tradition, even if they still built one. Which they don't.