Saturday, February 27, 2021

LIVIN' IN THE 70s by John Crawford

In my job as Editor of MODERN MOTOR magazine I got to travel all over Australia, and all over the world for a good story.

In 1974 my magazine snatched a big scoop with the first pre-release drive of the new small Holden, the Gemini, at GM-Holden's high-security test track at Lang Lang, south-east of Melbourne.

My old friend, Ian Smith (below), probably the top automotive photographer of his day, recently dredged up a selection of old pix from a Kleber tyre test session.

 

It was a wet and rainy October day in 1975 at Calder Raceway as a small group of hacks gathered to hear the Kleber marketing manager, plus tyre retailer (and owner of Calder, Bob Jane) extol the virtues of the V12 tyre. 


Jane’s interest was commercial on two fronts – he made money selling Kleber tyres, plus the Kleber V12-Renault R12 race series was due to be run at Calder.



Yours truly (dig the posey, ill-fitting driving gloves) belted up for a few laps around the wet raceway, chasing my old friend Max Stahl in another Renault 12, and as you can imagine, letting a gang of testosterone-filled motoring writers out on a circuit for a free-for-all doesn’t bear thinking about.


We didn’t ding any cars, but a couple of the less-experienced scribes did manage a few 360s on the wet track.


Then, in May 1976, I was at Alfa Romeo’s famed test track, the ‘Old Farm’ at Balocco, with Australian journalists and Alfa Romeo dealers, to celebrate the global success of the nifty little Giugiaro-designed Alfasud.




What a brilliant little car it was, pity about its propensity to rust!

 

However, interviewing the Alfa Romeo CEO Gaetano Cortese, he delivered a scoop 'sound bite' about the still-secret Alfasud Coupe! Which he agreed we could get a look at, as long as we stayed on the bus and didn’t take any photos!


Sorry about that, but the devil made me do it!


In 1977 I resigned from MODERN MOTOR to take on my most adventurous story ever – the Singapore Airlines London-to-Sydney Car Rally.



 What an experience that was, and I lived to tell the tale! 

However, surviving the 30,000km rally was all down to my dear friend and partner in our Mini Moke, the irrepressible adventurer, Hans Tholstrup – who proudly told my wife on the steps of the Sydney Opera House: “There, you see, I got him back to you safe and sound.”


John Crawford

Thursday, February 25, 2021

CHINA'S GREAT WALL QUALITY HASN'T PICKED-UP by John Crawford

It should not be assumed that the up-and-coming Chinese carmakers get everything right first time, or, even second time for that matter.

 

Take Great Wall Motors for example. In early 2008 I earned a day's consulting fee with Ateco in Sydney, participating in meetings about the prospects of importing a range of vehicles from Great Wall Motors in China.

 

From a business perspective, it looked like a pretty good deal. Vehicles with competitive specification, and a rock-bottom launch price, which almost guaranteed a quick uptake in a market that promised to grow quickly – and indeed it did. The pickup market took off like a Saturn rocket.

 

Only one thing wrong. The vehicle I drove was abysmally-primitive. The ride was dreadful, the handling uncontrolled, the interior looked like an early Japanese product from the 60s and the fit’n’finish was appalling.

 

By 2011, and to its credit, GWM reacted positively, and vehicle quality gradually improved, to a point where it was considered competitive, but still not the most refined of pickups.

 

Fast forward to this week, and I’m driving the crew-cab version of the latest model. To quote an old English proverb, it’s like the ‘curate’s egg’ – that is, good in parts.




The paint quality is outstanding, the styling is competitive, the fit and finish is vastly better than the first examples, and it bristles with a lot of the tech buyers appear to demand. The price remains competitive in a market segment that totally dominates the Australian market.

 

However, time has not seen the vehicle improve in very critical areas. Whilst GWM has made great strides in terms of quality and appeal for its Haval range of crossovers, the GWM crew cab pickup remains lost in a state of lagging behind the market leaders in most areas.

 

The seating is uncomfortable, the steering is like stirring treacle, the ride is truly awful and to top it all, some of the tech doesn’t work! It took four attempts to pair an iPhone; and at no time was it possible to connect to Apple CarPlay to listen to music. There are two digital clocks (one in the IP, and one in the centre screen) and the time display is not synchronised between the two!



It appears that in many cases in Australia, crew cab pickups are replacing family sedans, because of their four-door, five-seat configuration. However, after a couple of weekends talking to auction houses about the large numbers of crew cab pickups for sale on the used car market, it appears that while the men in the family think the GWM vehicles are a great buy; their spouses think otherwise.

 

And, it’s not just GWM pickups that are getting the thumbs-down from the fairer sex. The auction house managers tell me that it’s wives and partners who are forcing their menfolk to dump the pickups – because they are NOT a suitable replacement for a family car, or crossover.

 

Don’t get me wrong. Many of the big-selling pickups do offer excellent equipment, performance, ride/handling , comfort, tech and value-for-money.



But, not all of them – and I’d venture to say that the GWM models top that list of unloved pickups.


John Crawford

Sunday, February 21, 2021

TOURING - SOUTH AFRICA - THE WINELAND CIRCUIT by John Crawford

Drive just 65km northeast from Capetown (below) and you’re in Paarl, a prosperous town, known widely as the gateway to the Cape’s winelands.





Paarl has several claims to fame. It was the birthplace of the Afrikaans language; the third oldest European settlement; and it is where Nelson Mandela was freed after 27 years of imprisonment, in February 1990.


Mount Paarl (not exactly in K2's status)

Whilst there’s no shortage of 5-Star accommodation in and around Capetown, Paarl is the location for one of the best – The Grand Roche Hotel.



Originally a wine estate and farm, established in 1715 by Hermann Bosman, it remained in the family for almost 200 years, but in 1993 it was converted into the property it is now. 


Unlike most luxury hotels, this one comprises suites and cottages, developed from the farm’s many outbuildings, which surround the original Cape Dutch manor house. Yes, it carries 5-Star prices, but even a short stay will impress the most jaded tourist.



South Africa has a colourful history (probably putting it mildly), but ethnically the original inhabitants, the Khoisan, were dislodged 2000 years ago by a southern migration of Bantus, some from as far north as Zimbabwe. It wasn’t until the late 15th century the first Europeans, Portuguese mariners, arrived. Today the dominant tribes are the Xhosa and Zulu.

 

The Cape weather is described as Mediterranean, which is ideal for wine growing, and this Great Drive encompasses most of the major wine districts in the Eastern Cape. Paarl is essentially the administrative city for wine growers, but departing Paarl to the south on Route 45, you will quickly reach the town of Franschhoek, a pretty village ideal for morning tea.




The road then snakes upwards into the Haweqwa mountain range, then drops down to a valley and the Theewaterskloof Dam, where the road (still R45) takes a left passing through Villersdorp, where you will then follow R43.




The previous section provides a glimpse of the driving ahead, as the route traverses and tracks over and around three significant mountain ranges – the Hottentots-Holland; Riviersonderend and Langeberg.

 

The route, following R43, passes the Brandvlei Dam, and just before the town of Worcester, take a right at Aan De Doorns, and cross over to the R60, at Over-Hex.


The next section of this highway crosses fairly barren country, with scattered vineyards on the slopes of the Langeberg mountain range. The next town to appear in your windscreen is Robertson – and then you’re in one of the area’s main wine-growing areas.



As you pass the town of Boesmanspad, the Langeberg range appears to hover over your left field of vision. It’s this cool mountain backdrop which produces excellent white wines. At the town of Swellendam, you meet Route 2, where you take a right, heading southwest on one of the Cape’s main highways.

 

Although this section is relatively easy highway driving, the views of the vineyards on your left, and the hills of the Riviersonderend range make a spectacular contrast.

 

Following Route 2, you will pass a dominant hilly section rising from the plains, and this is the Fynbosrand Private Nature Reserve. After that, the highway passes through the town of Caledon, which is the location of a very interesting museum.

 

The next major centre is the town of Bot River, and from here you can practically smell the salt air as you begin to approach the coast. In Bot River, divert to the R43, and then keep your eye on your GPS, or road map, because 8-10km later, you need to ensure you divert onto the R44, and as you head southwest, you get your first view of the coastline, at Kleinmond (below).



What follows is a complete contrast to the territory you’ve covered so far, but it is one of the most beautiful oceanside drives you will experience anywhere in the world. 

 

Here the Hottentots-Holland mountains fall sharply towards the sea, and the road sweeps around majestic corners to the town of Betty’s Bay, which is a great place to stop for lunch.

 

Betty’s Bay offers plenty to see, plus an excellent Penguin Nature reserve.



I don’t think words do justice to the next section, between Betty’s Bay and Gordon’s Bay. It is a spectacular drive, with spectacular scenery.



As the road veers away from the coast, at The Strand Golf Club, you’ll find a Big Cat preservation centre, called Cheetah Outreach, which if there are children on board, makes it an essential pit stop.




The R44 now crosses Route 2 again, however if you remain on R44, you can count on a long afternoon tea stop at the famous wine city of Stellenbosch.

 

If you’ve ever drunk wines from the Stellenbosch area, you will probably want to stop for a while to allow discovery of all the varietals which come from this world-famous district. Maybe after the tasting, you should stop overnight.



If you must return to Paarl, the most interesting drive is to follow R310 through Pniel, take a left when it joins the R45, and that will lead you back to your starting point at Paarl.

Whilst the most famous landmark is the Cape of Good Hope, it is actually Cape Point (around 15km south of Good Hope) that is the part of South Africa closest to the Antarctic.


Cape Point


This Great Drive rewards you with variety, great roads, usually not much traffic, and dining options that will meet with approval from the fussiest tourist. Oh, and by the way, there’s also the wines.

 

Also, when you are out in the country don’t be surprised if, as you approach a local driver from behind, the car pulls off to the side of the road and waits, while you go past. It can be unnerving, but it’s not unusual.


John Crawford

Saturday, February 20, 2021

KIA K8 - WILL THE CADENZA CUT IT? by John Crawford

 In musical terms, the cadenza is where the orchestra stops playing, to allow a solo to flourish - a highlight if you will.


In the automotive concert hall, the Cadenza is a solo performance for the Kia range, in the Americas. 

Its alias, or product name, is Kia K7.

I must say I don't think it's the most sophisticated design from the sketch pads of Peter Schreyer and his team.

Here are iterations from 2010 through 2020 (right).

In fact I think the K7 has too many flourishes. Apparently it's a big hit in the Americas. Make of that what you will.

Up until now it has been built on a platform it shares with the Hyundai Grandeur, or Areza (below), depending on the market. 

And it looks like the new Kia version will follow the same path.

You may well ask, if there's a model which could potentially be exported to other global markets, then why not? Believe me, Chairman Euisun Chung is a pretty smart cookie.

He knows that passenger cars are pretty much 'on the nose' and while ever the 'Americas' need a big sedan, and the K8 can be built without huge investment, by borrowing underpinnings from the Hyundai Grandeur - then why not?

When it's finally time to drop the guillotine on the big sedans, they'll disappear without trace.


So this is the Kia K8, which is also being employed to show off Kia's new interpretation of its corporate logo.





Will it be sold in Europe, or Australia for that matter? The word from Korea, is a very definite NO. Hyundai-Kia right now needs a bigger car for the Americas, so K8, with lots of glitzy diamonds strewn about, is the new big thing.

John Crawford

Monday, February 15, 2021

CAPTURING 'THE PULSE' - THE VALUE OF GOOD INTELLIGENCE by Paul Gover

John Reid has been taking the pulse of the Australian motor industry for 15 years.


His annual health check, tracking the great and the good down to the boring and irrelevant, is a key indicator to what is happening in the car world.


But Reid is not looking at the VFACTS sales numbers (below) that many companies regard as the only true indicator of success and failure down under

How Vfacts presents its registration data


He is a market researcher and runs a string of surveys through key influencers in a variety of industries.


And we’re not talking about influencers who wear bikinis and sit on a beach to tease their millions of fawning online followers.

Reid is a straightforward Scotsman who looks for answers with the people who really know what’s happening in their working world.



In the case of cars, his ‘Opinion Leaders’ report is compiled through one-to-one interviews with Australia’s most relevant and influential automotive reporters.


In the early days, Reid was talking to print ‘writers’ from newspapers and magazines, but in 2021 he is increasingly interviewing people who cover the car business through websites, social media, video and radio as what are now called - to the dismay of the veterans - the ‘legacy media’ in print.


“I fell into market research by accident. A physics degree is endlessly fascinating to nobody but other science nerds. 


However, it produces mathematically literate inquisitive individuals, a good description of quantitative market researchers, and that landed me my first job as a statistician at a go-ahead high growth research agency,” says Reid.


It was much the same when he arrived from his birthplace in Scotland.


“I’ve spent the last 17 of my 66 years on planet earth in Australia. A belated gap year which started as I neared 50 and hasn’t stopped yet. Lucky, lucky me.”


Reid knows how to enjoy himself, from cycling and sailing to flying, but also knows the value of a dollar.




He flies on discount tickets, and is happy to ride his bicycle to meetings around Melbourne.


But his Scots blood comes through in monetry considerations. He knows the value of the information he sells, regularly lifting the payment to his interviewees in an industry where freelance journalists are still billing at the same rates as the 1990s - or below.


“The basic premise of our business is that the collective view of experts has value. The tricky part is getting the experts to divulge their secrets,” Reid says.


John Reid & Alison Teale
“At my first meeting after forming Opinion Leaders with Alison Teale, the receptionist told our prospective client that Opinion 'Readers' were waiting in Reception."


"We both realised that would have been a better name for our company. That was 17 happy years ago.”


In the years since then he has found a solid and profitable niche.


“Opinion Leaders surveys cover banking, insurance, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, technology, corporate social responsibility and the automotive sector.”


The automotive agency is well established and well respected, both by journalists and industry leaders.


“I’m currently working on the 15th car survey here. What distinguishes our car surveys from the other markets we cover is the passion and knowledge our interviewees bring to the table."


“I try to do as many of the interviews as possible, preferably face-to-face, and I always listen to and transcribe those done by my interviewers. I still remember listening to one tape sent in by my Queensland interviewer, Gladys, when one passionate interviewee started using language which was a little too exuberant. I hope my presentations capture some of that depth of feeling."


Reid does as much as he can to ensure the views in Opinion Leaders are broad and diverse, not just relying on a handful of regular subjects.


“It’s 25 to 30 interviews for each survey, generating both qualitative and quantitative output.”


But it’s more than just work. “I love my job. I spend an hour (often longer) chatting to someone who cares passionately about what they do. I then combine their responses and provide a dispassionate description of where the major brands stand in the eyes of the media."




“The clever clients act on the information, the others don’t. They want to keep their jobs.”


There are times when Reid is as blunt and direct as his interviewees. That’s obvious when he talks about the car companies who subscribe to Opinion Leaders.


“Generally, it’s the more successful brands who tend to buy our survey. The poor performers (you know who you are) give me a body swerve. They know they’d be on thin ice if their senior management saw how little they delivered for the big bucks they spent."


So, in general terms, what do they want and what are they tracking?


“As observed earlier, market research is common sense, and that, strangely enough, can be a rare commodity. You can’t love someone you don’t know and, as most old married couples know, the better you know someone then the more you love them."


Brand satisfaction report
“That’s what our survey measures. How well do the experts know the brands they cover? Which brands light a fire in their hearts, and which ones leave them cold?"


“The magic is discovering, not only what they do right, but what they could do to address weaknesses, both real and perceived. 

The lever of interest in this survey is the effectiveness of media relations delivery, but the star strutting its stuff on centre stage is the product. Potential buyers, and engaged readers, need to look at hi-tech engineering products through the critical lens that genuine experts bring to the information mix.”


Reid’s observations of journalism and the motor industry give him a unique perspective to provide his own assessment.


“The last 15 years has seen a drastic reduction in the quality of much (not all) media content. Poor grammar, inaccuracies, and replacing experienced journalists with (let’s be kind) less experienced ones.


“Everyone thinks they can be a journalist now, and that’s just plain wrong.


“The most dispiriting phenomenon I’ve seen has been the response of traditional media to the disrupters. Instead of developing and improving their product, quality content has been sacrificed on the altar of ‘cost cutting’."


“I still remember interviewing a healthcare journalist a few years ago who scored his knowledge of Pfizer as a 1, meaning they know nothing about them, on our 5-point scale. No motoring journalist has ever taken my breath away like that." 


On the car front, he is equally blunt.


“Australia has a bewildering number of OEMs competing for sales of a million units a year. I’ve no idea why there are more brands available here than other much bigger markets, but it certainly heightens competition."




“The key trends that define where we are now compared to 15 years ago in the automotive sector are the huge quality gains we’ve all benefitted from. Safety, efficiency and reliability sit at unprecedented levels."


“The technology revolution is upon us, new power plants and infotainment systems that would have been science fiction 15 years ago can be found in so-called base models, not just top-of-the-range premium brands. Clever experts know where these developments will take us, and I’ll be doing my best to distil these disparate fragments of information into a cohesive story and report them back to my clients.”


But Reid also sees the benefits to buyers that have come with the arrival of high-tech developments at a low price.


“Engineers are their own worst enemies.  Every year they bring out better and better products and sell them for less and less in real terms.  A difficult treadmill to dismount, but a terrific boon for consumers,” he says.


 Website: www.opinionleaders.com.au

Contact: john.reid@opinionleaders.com.au


Paul Gover

 

 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

SUPERCARS: MUSTANG + A MYSTERY CHALLENGER by Wayne Webster

Supercar fans may have to wait in line to witness the eagerly anticipated punch-up between bitter rivals Ford and Chevrolet at one of the world’s greatest race circuits - Bathurst’s Mt Panorama.

As if the salivating prospect of the Blue Oval versus the Bowtie battle of Bathurst in the October 1000km “great race” wasn’t enough to make dedicated racing fans have a small wee in their pants in anticipation, the war on the mountain may be set to erupt earlier than anyone ever expected.

While in the Ford corner you’ll definitely have a muscle-bound Mustang ready to blacken eyes and bloody noses, where on Chevrolet’s side of the ring you won’t find the bulging biceps of the thundering Camaro.


No, no - it will be a sleek and sexy Corvette C8!

Yes, you read that right, a Corvette C8!


And this heavyweight showdown of two automotive legends could be coming to a Mt Panorama near you as early as February 2022.

A major change in the rules for the US-centric IMSA sports car championship due to be implemented for 2022 season will almost certainly see both Chevrolet with its hero-model Corvette, and Ford’s ubiquitous Mustang both appear in GT3 body armour before the end of this year.



Meaning, of course, examples of both could easily be on the grid for the 2022 Liqui-Moly 12 Hour Down Under either as fully-funded factory entries or in the tender loving care of well-heeled privateers.

IMSA announced during the lead-up to the recent Rolex Daytona 24 Hour epic that in 2022 the unloved GTLM class, once a happy hunting ground for manufacturers wanting to race sports cars in both the European focussed  World Endurance Championship (including Le Mans) and the USA’s IMSA showdown, would be scrapped.


Once upon a time, the GTLM class in IMSA saw the likes of Corvette go head- to-head with factory entries from Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin and BMW to name a few. Indeed Porsche ended its program worldwide as did Aston Martin.

Now only Chevy remains as a full-time contender in the US, taking on one privateer Porsche RSR and, but only in the endurance races, a couple of BMWs from the Bobby Rahal stable.

It was in one of these cars that Aussie Chaz Mostert shared a class win at Daytona only a year ago but couldn’t go back in 2021 because of the Covid travel restrictions.

At the same time as it gave GTLM a mercy bullet to the head, IMSA also announced its exciting new alternative, GTD Pro, which you can bet is also attracting the attention of the WEC rule makers at the ACO, the organisers of the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans.


The GTD class that was on show at the Daytona classic is designed for GT3 category machinery but remains a pro-am class, mandating that while you can have a professional driver, you also need amateurs sharing the driving duties and that factory teams are not welcome. Lexus pushes the boundaries here with the Vasser-Sullivan entries, but…..

With GTD Pro, factory entries are welcome - encouraged actually - and if you could afford it you could have Lewis Hamilton sharing a car with Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso and Sir Stirling Moss. Of course, the latter combo may pose a bigger problem than money!

GTD Pro is designed to bring back the manufacturers, those already heavily invested in GT3 racing which currently includes Audi, Bentley, McLaren, Mercedes and so many others.

With the writing on the wall both in the USA and the civilised world, Chevrolet is now fast tracking its Corvette GT3 program which, well away from prying eyes, has actually been in progress for at least the last 18 months.


The initial and top-secret development of the GT3 Corvette was carried out alongside the design of the GTLM car and, although it’s not exactly a push-the-start-button deal, a completed car could be up and testing within months.

Heading the Corvette program is GM’s recently appointed Sports Car Racing General Manager, Laura Wontrop Klauser (below), hugely qualified with degrees in both engineering and mechanical engineering and infectiously enthusiastic about the future ahead.


“We’re going to have to pivot here and possibly adapt, and that’s what we’re working through. We’re figuring out, ‘Where do we want to play?’” she 
admitted in a recent interview .

 “What makes sense for the company, for the brand? How do we incorporate all of this into a universal budget and get the best bang for our buck in terms of exposure, learnings, and fan interaction?

“I think we’re coming up with a pretty solid plan here, and I think we’ll, hopefully, be able to share that with all of our loyal fans in the very near future. But don’t worry. Corvette Racing is not going anywhere in terms of a Corvette being on the grid somewhere because that’s our brand. That’s what belongs out there, beating the pants off a Porsche, BMW and Ferrari, and anybody else we want to compete against, she told a US magazine.

And most tellingly: "Racing is in Corvette’s DNA."

Of course, anywhere that GM goes, you’ll almost always find a Ford badge lurking.

And so, it seems, it will be with GT3.

Having killed off it’s GTLM program which was headlined by the mouth-wateringly beautiful Ford GT, the Blue Oval has been missing from sports car racing lately, but you can bet that’s going to change.

Ford already has a GT4 version of the Mustang for sale (below), and a GT3 version is not only a possibility, it’s a damn probability.

The head of Ford Performance and a familiar face at the Bathurst 1000 in recent times, Mark Rushbrook, doesn’t really dance around the issue.

“That (GT3) is definitely of interest as we want to race Mustangs everywhere, since it’s now a global sports car,” he said.

What I would say is, GT3 is a very logical place for the Mustang to race and a very logical place for us to look, and certainly with what IMSA offers, even today with GTD, that’s a great place to race.”

And there’s even a larger silver lining in the GT3 category for both GM and Ford.

The fact is that GT3 cars can be manufactured and sold to customers, which makes them a revenue source as well as a brilliant marketing tool.

Add that to the allure of Mt Panorama, and let’s look forward to the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2022.

And then, of course, there will be October for the second showdown.

WAYNE WEBSTER

Thursday, February 11, 2021

ALFA ROMEO GIULIA - AMO VELOCE by John Crawford

It’s not just the speed, it’s the whole package. Clothed in a skin of absolute beauty by Andrea Loi, under Design Chief Marco Tencone at Alfa Romeo Centro Stile in 2015, the Giulia has done what the late Sergio Marchionne demanded, to restore the integrity, the style and performance image of Alfa Romeo in this new car.




As his final ‘big spend’ before his untimely death, Marchionne invested five billion Euros to accelerate a resurgence for Alfa Romeo, which resulted in the Giulia and the Stelvio SUV – and just about any automotive writer who has driven these two models testify to the achievement of Marchionne’s vision.


Yes, there’s the fire-breathing, Maserati-Ferrari developed Quadrifoglio V6, but most of my experience with the Giulia has been with the ‘starter’ engine, the 2.0L turbocharged four cylinder. This engine. (known internally as General Medium Engine, or GME), was wholly-designed and developed by Alfa Romeo, and built at its Termoli powertrain facility on the Adriatic coast.


It comes in two stages of tune, the 147kW ‘base model’ I drove in 2017; and the Veloce, the subject of this story, producing 206kW. That difference of 59kW means a lot out on the road. It’s perfectly calibrated to the ZF (8HP50) 8-speed paddle-operated transmission, and when you press the accelerator, it responds with impressive urge.

 

This opportunity to drive a current production Veloce came as a complete surprise, but courtesy of my good friend Paul Gover. Given my gushing Blog Post in December 2017, I am even more impressed with the myriad minor changes, improvements to production engineering, and overall fit’n’finish of this latest version.



Of course, as a paid-up member of the Alfisti, my 2017 story was a tribute to the brilliance of the Giulia, so this opportunity to sample a 2020 car merely confirmed my first impressions of the Tipo 952 – it’s bloody brilliant!



What’s so good? First, and most obvious to the driver, is the beautiful, linear action of the throttle pedal. It is sweet as. Then there’s the interior, with tight trim margins, superb materials and finally the addition of Apple Car Play and Android Auto.


Let's not forget the brilliant handling, thanks to the Pirelli P-Zero tyres, and the fantastic brakes.


Veloce has it all in one package.



Then, there’s the figure-hugging seats which are superbly comfortable. When you slide behind the wheel it renders you this great feeling of sitting low, with your bum on the ground, guiding this charismatic projectile.




I don’t test as many cars as Paul Gover, so my view may be limited, but if you want to own a simply stunning, rear-drive, performance saloon, you need look no further than the Giulia. Yes, I know the comparable Audi RS, BMW M and Mercedes-Benz AMG models are great – but at AUD$75,000 the Giulia Veloce Q2 is the bee’s knees, a bargain, and deserves to be under consideration.

 

The name Veloce first appeared in 1956, as a very tidy example of design by Touring Superleggera, but my favourite image is the outstanding Giulia Sprint Veloce of 1966. Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro for Bertone. That car captured my heart, and engaged me as no other Italian car had at the time.




Today’s Veloce also captures the true spirit of Alfa Romeo The marketing  tagline at the time described the 952 as embodying “La meccanica delle emozioni “(The mechanics of emotions in Italian).


First, Alfa Romeo is older than this tree; Yes, it's as Italian as Pizza and Pasta; The grille has a name, 'Scudetto'; and this is the sort of road the Giulia LOVES!

As a dedicated Italophile, I am in love again every time I get to spend time driving the Giulia, or even just looking at it. Do yourself a favour, and drive it. You’ll not be disappointed.


But, VERY suitable for the Giulia Veloce







John Crawford