Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce

Flamboyant Italian is not a Mini-Me QV

ENGINE 1995cc inline-4cyl, DOHC, 16v, turbo / POWER 206kW @ 5250rpm / TORQUE 400Nm @ 2250rpm / WEIGHT 1526kg THERE have been some truly momentous Alfa Romeos in the past thirty years. But not one of them was ever as good as it should have been. Why? Front-wheel drive, thatís why. Weíre not saying that a tail-dragger canít be a great thing (drive a Megane Trophy and youíll know what we mean) but, dammit, Alfas were born to be rear-drive.

So you can see why the world was taking notice when the wraps came off a car that Alfa reckoned was going to take on the mainstream Germans at a stroke; the Giulia Veloce, complete with rear-wheel drive. Is that the whole Giulia Veloce story, though? Of course not, and enough of the intellectualising; whatís the Veloce like when it comes to the BFYB acid test?

Actually, itís not the result the Alfisti might have been hoping for. Fundamentally, the Alfa is just too road-oriented to make too much of an impression at a track, even a tight little one like Winton. The thing just feels soft overall and thereís plenty of body roll to remind you that this isnít the balls-out QV version.

The Veloce didnít suffer too badly in slower stuff, but the too-soft set-up really played against it in faster corners where it just couldnít carry the momentum of pretty much anything else here. You can see the numbers for yourself, but what they donít show is that the Alfa just didnít feel comfortable being flogged.

Funnily enough, though, there was no lack of straight-line pace and a 13.92 is proof. Nought to 100 in less than six isnít suggestive of a straggler, either.

More than that, though, the tweaked two-litre engine in the Veloce sounded and felt like it wanted you to be forceful. The eight-speed auto didnít hinder it and the bonus of those ratios is that the early ones can be quite short, which keeps the thing on the boil more of the time. That said, I reckon the engine could have used an extra 1000rpm or so at the top end, but clearly, itís been tuned for midrange rather than stretching things out between turns nine and 10 at Winton.

The steering felt a bit light to be really enjoyable trackside, too, and I canít help wondering why, because the rear-drive base-model Giulia seems to have a bit more meat through the helm.

Look, the Veloce is certain to shine on-road and that makes sense given its design brief, but if occasional track duty isnít on-brand for Alfa Romeo, I donít know what is. I mean, if weíre talking core values... Ė DM

THE PRO SAYS

6th Warren Luff ďItís another car thatís very restricted by not being able to turn the stability and traction control all the way off... which hurts midcorner and corner exit. Overall itís not a bad car, it just lacks feel and it lacks substance. Itís a bit vague in the front end and itís quite light in the steering so it doesnít give you confidence. The engineís got reasonable power and the brakes feel quite nice and I love the styling.

As an everyday car thereís so many positives like the interior space and driving position.Ē

TIMES

0-100km/h: 5.71sec (6th) 0-400m: 13.92sec @ 164.50km/h (6th) Lap Time: 1:43.8sec (7th)

SCORES

Price: $71,985 Bang Index: 76.3 Bucks Index: 94.1 BFYB Index: 83.4

JUDGESí NOTES

8th David Morley ďHereís a car I need to spend more time withÖ on the roadĒ 7th Dylan Campbell ďLovely car, but whatís the point of a mechanical LSD with fixed ESP?Ē 6th Louis Cordony ďGreat chassis and looks but outdone in this companyĒ 6th Tim Robson ďSome overly sharp steering going on here Ė didnít feel quite rightĒ