“Forget the rest” is a horse racing commentator’s phrase that, in the final furlongs, implores you to ignore the also-rans and concentrate solely on the runners who could win.
I was reminded of it when thinking of cars on sale today that would be better to drive than the Alfa Romeo Giulia ‘Quattroformaggio’ on a journey home from Wales. It was an alarmingly short list.
You know Wales. Or you’ll have seen it in the pictures: scenic; not so far away; lots of water. If you drive in anywhere than at the bottom, you’ll do it, as I did, on A- or B-roads, not motorway. The sat-nav took me on a lightly used, very bendy single carriageway that I hadn’t driven before. And it was wonderful.
But the car was better. Recent Fiats and Alfas have been so underwhelming that it’s tempting to believe it ended up this way by accident, until you remember the Giulia’s chief engineer worked on the Ferrari 458. The Giulia is impeccably balanced, sprung, damped. It has the poise of a Ford Fiesta ST but the absorbance of a Mercedes E-Class. It steers all of smoothly, accurately and quickly, but not numbly or nervously.
Caveats? Oh hell yes. The Giulia’s gestation period was incredibly short. So short, some said it couldn’t be done. Customer satisfaction surveys won’t feature Giulias for a while yet, but we’ve had niggles with cars, sister magazines have had niggles with cars and, loath though I am to admit their existence, rival magazines have had issues with cars. Maybe press cars are early builds. Maybe it’s coincidence. Or maybe it’s not. Does it have to be this way? Please don’t let it have to be this way. Still, as m’colleague Dan Prosser will deftly put it on an upcoming video, while other cars of its ilk feel like sports saloons, the Giulia feels like a sports car.
The list of cars that would be better at this journey, then? An hour and a half of A-road followed by the same distance on motorway, all after a day’s driving whose length would make an Uber driver blush? A Lotus Elise, though it would be wearing on the motorway; a McLaren 570S, which might be the same; a Porsche 911 GTS is terrific albeit noisier and more brittle; a Ferrari 488 GTB, fabulous but too fast, conspicuous and nervous. It’s a shortlist of four that could, in the final furlongs, become one. But forget the rest – this Alfa’s that good.
The man who said the Ford Mustang “straddles most British driveways like a killer whale stranded on a toilet cistern” has, inexplicably, gone. Owing to what is, I assume, some kind of administrative error with his luncheon allowance, Nic ‘Nicholas’ Cackett has left the building of his own volition.
Pity. Few writers have the imagination to say that a Morgan Plus 8 would regard syncing with a smartphone “with the same mystification as a de Havilland Mosquito contemplating a Hellfire missile”, or that a fast Audi’s handling is “about as compelling as an email spam folder”.
Thankfully, for the void in manpower, and the local cafe’s takings, he’ll still be with us, freelancing. So the bigger news is that we are taking on not one but two new road testers. I’ll be delighted to tell you who they are soon.