The Alfa Romeo Giulia is the only new car I would buy | Axon's Automotive Anorak
I was recently invited to a friend’s Birthday dinner, held at a very nice restaurant, where I spent a most enjoyable evening at one end of a large table with some friends of my friend that I hadn’t met before.
After some interesting initial small talk, the conversation inevitably turned to what we all did for a living, with the varied professions of architecture, finance, music and (in my case) cars all generating much lively and interesting discussion.
When I mentioned I’ve worked in the automotive sector for some years, one of the group asked what new car would I currently choose to buy? This proved to be a surprisingly tough question for me to answer in an instant without too much thought, because to be totally honest, most new cars available on the market today don’t do much to get my pulse racing in the way many older cars do.
With almost 60 brands and a countless number of models sold on the British new car market today, more than we’ve ever had available post-war, choosing a desirable new car should never have been easier. For me, the selection has rarely been duller with such a lack in interest or appeal.
Now, I know that I’m not the typical new car target buyer for most mainstream car makers – I’ll rule out most crossovers and SUVs instantly as I don’t have a need for them, they mostly look the same and leave me cold. The same applies to most German cars for me, as well as diesels, saloons, automatics and all-electric vehicles. With these personal stipulations (or quirks), the choice of possible new cars quickly becomes far more restricted.
I would love a new Rolls-Royce Wraith, for example, but I can’t afford the asking price, never mind the considerable running costs, and sadly the last of the Lotus Elise run-out specials have all now been sold. This reduces the list of possible new car suitors further still.
The Fiat Panda 4x4 (and its Suzuki Ignis rival) has a certain charm and appeal to me, but the internal combustion petrol engine I would seek is soon to be withdrawn (far too prematurely in my view) from the UK market, with Fiat bravely (or unwisely) about to offer electric-powered only models.
For other new cars, of the hundreds of models on offer, only a small handful really appeal to me, bizarrely most being offered by manufacturers beginning with an ‘A’.
The Abarth 695 hot hatch (preferably with manual transmission, if you can still find one) has strong appeal, despite its firm ride and limited practicality, as does the Alfa Romeo Giulia, the best-looking new car you can buy today in my humble opinion, and great to drive. The new Alpine A110 also floats my boat, having owned and run a couple of examples of the ‘classic’ 1970s original many years ago when they were still largely unknown and affordable in the UK. The original A110’s down-side of having a rear-mounted engine (something else I tend to shy away from) has finally now been corrected over 60 years later by placing the motor in the centre, where it should be for the finest handling qualities.
Away from the Abarth, Alfa Romeo and Alpine, not many of the other new cars we can now all buy (budget willing) appeal to me. A Caterham Seven still takes some beating for excitement and a sense of involvement, but I’ve already been there and done that with creaking bones and a bad back to help remind me of all of those joyous moments I’ve had driving one. In a similar vein, but still too limited in what it can do in real world motoring, I find the tiny new Citroen Ami EV very appealing, despite it being two-seats only, with a 30mph top speed and restrictive 30-mile range.
Most modern Ferraris now sadly fail to light my fire (especially since firing master stylist Pininfarina), although I wouldn’t kick an 812 Superfast out of the garage, in the very unlikely event that I could ever afford one. The once funky Citroen, Honda and Renault ranges have become a little too predictable and ‘every day’ for my tastes too. The new Range Rover, meanwhile, though a fine machine, remains a tad too wallowy and ‘SUV’ like for my sensibilities. Volvos may now feature some of the world’s best interiors, but as an ex-Saab man like myself, I couldn’t possibly drive such a machine. BMWs, Mercs and especially Audis; nein danke. After all, have you met some of the owners?
So, there are more than 60 new car brands and endless models (now mainly crossovers and SUVs) to choose from. Which one do I choose? My eventual answer when my friend’s friend asked me that difficult question over dinner, after prolonged chewing on a morsel of pan-fried salmon, was the wonderful Alfa Romeo Giulia, ideally in entertaining and capable 2.9 BiTurbo Quardifoglio form. The looks, the sound, the involving drive and the chance to wipe the smile off the faces of all those unimaginative reps in their predictable German upper-medium ‘executive’ saloons.