2011 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Prestige: A Stirring Stateside Return | Rumble Seat by Dan Neil – WSJ.com

19 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2011 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Prestige: A Stirring Stateside Return | Rumble Seat by Dan Neil – WSJ.com

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

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Alfa Romeo Giulietta Alfa Romeo

Milan

I’m steaming northeast toward the Alps in a white Alfa Romeo Giulietta, a lovely bit of car-building falconry destined for the U.S. in 2014, if all hews to plan. It is, to put it up front, a wonderful car, with a hyper-efficient 1.4-liter, 170-horsepower turbocharged engine bolted to a slick six-speed manual transmission; an electronic limited-slip differential between the front wheels; utterly purr-fect steering feel for a front-drive car; a fuel-saving stop-start system; and Alfa Romeo’s three-stage chassis dynamics software—the DNA system—which gradually turns up the wick on the throttle, steering, torque-vectoring and braking response, while dialing down the nannying stability control.

The whole is wrapped in a close-curried, stub-nosed Alfa stile that puts a pithing cane in the notion that hatchbacks are boring. This thing is about as generic as the .25 Beretta you keep in your boot.

Alfa Romeo

When it comes to handicapping the chances of Fiat and Alfa Romeo cars in the U.S.—as part of the Chrysler-Fiat merger, Fiat has landed this year and Alfa will land in late 2012, with the 4C sports coupe—I think about the metric system. America’s failure to adopt the International System of Units does not bode well for us.

We are the only industrialized country in the world that still relies on the clunky Imperial system—even the British have abandoned it, for the most part—and our attachment to this un-arithmetic system of medieval measures costs us billions in trade and makes us look like the feebs of the Western world. You should see the condescension that crosses German engineers’ faces when they obligingly convert to inches (instead of millimeters) and foot-pounds (Newton-meters). You just know what they’re thinking: How did we lose to these guys?

Our clinging to pounds and inches isn’t quaint. It’s a measure of our insularity, our complacency, our paranoia (metric system=New World Order), our malign unwillingness to join the rest of the planet. And that brings me back to the Alfa.

What would it take for the Alfa Giulietta to succeed in the U.S. Well, first, it would require a good number of Americans to abandon the smug cliché of Italian cars being unreliable, Fix It Again, Tony, etc. Italian cars are as good as, and in many ways better than, anything else on the road.

Such is the nominalizing effect of the global supply chain, from which all companies source their parts and technology. In March, an outfit called ALG announced the results of its Perceived Quality Study, polling U.S. consumers, in which the Fiat brand came in last. Well, I ask this with all due respect: What the hell do they know?

Is it reasonable to expect those polled to have been keeping up with Fiat in the 27 years it’s been gone?

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Alfa Romeo left the U.S. market a decade later, and the romanticism of the marque—the AR Spider Veloce, The Graduate, Fellini, etc.—means its sledding will be a little easier than Fiat’s. Still, the lingering stink of a failed European brand will have to be overcome. See, I told you the metric system would never work!

When it arrives on U.S. shores in 2014, Alfa Romeo’s peppy new hatchback, the Giulietta, should do much to scuttle Americans’ reflexive dislike of Italian family cars according to WSJ’s Dan Neil.

Second, it would require American car buyers to change one little letter in their premium-car-buying yardstick, exchanging mpg for mph. This will not be easy. However, $4 per gallon at the pump will certainly focus the car-buying mind.

The metric system can help. Miles-per-gallon is a daft way to measure fuel economy. U.S. or Imperial gallon? What kind of miles?

Does an increase from, say, 40 to 50 mpg save more gas than 10 to 11 mpg? (Answer: not even close.) We might as well measure in rods per hoghead.

Europe, on the other hand, measures fuel economy by liters/100 kilometers, and this system makes comparing fuel economy between cars easy. So measured, my test Giulietta returns fuel economy of 6.7/4.3 L/100 km, city/highway. That computes to a thundering 35/55 mpg (with a small asterisk for the differences in U.S. and Euro test cycles).

You would have a hard time finding a car anywhere in the world that delivers the Giulietta’s fashion sense, practicality, corner carving and fuel economy.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta
Alfa Romeo Giulietta
Alfa Romeo Giulietta
Alfa Romeo Giulietta
Alfa Romeo Giulietta
Alfa Romeo Giulietta

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