The past year has seen an interesting development in the arena of exotic and ultra-luxurious cars – the emergence of smaller-engined versions of cars that were previously available only with super-high-output 12-cylinder options. First was the facelifted Ferrari FF, now called the GTC4 Lusso, which in addition to the all-wheel-drive V12 version became available as an “entry level” model with rear-wheel-drive, powered by a turbocharged V8 engine taken from the 488 GTB and California T. Then Bentley released the oft-rumored Bentayga powered by, the sacrilege, a V8 turbodiesel seemingly taken straight out of the Audi SQ7. Are they a sign of things to come, smart decisions by the brands from a marketing perspective, or foolish endeavors to chase short-term profits at the expense of the brands’ long-term allure?
Abarth 124 Spider
This is the tuned version of the Fiat 124 Spider, which in its turn is based on the fourth generation Mazda MX-5. That means a long hood, low seating position and short but stubby rear end. And of course rear wheel drive and a short-shifting manual gearbox. The Abarth looks more militant than the Fiat thanks to its black hood and trunk lid, but the powerboost of just 10 hp to 170 hp isn’t very impressive and the chassis can handle more power for sure. I hope they’re coming up with more impressive hardware in the future, for example the 300 hp 1,8 liter they’ve mounted in the rally-spec Abarth hard-top. That unit has been mounted further back in the engine bay for better weight distribution. But that’s not all: it looks so stunning you’d wonder why they don’t use a transparent hood to show their jewelry to the world.
Alfa Romeo Giulia
We’ve finally seen the mainstream versions of the Alfa Romeo Giulia, after having been teased with the Giulia QV for over six months now, and honestly I hate to say this, but I’m slightly disappointed with them. The Giulia looks absolutely stunning and very aggressive with the QV body kit, and the white one on display wasn’t too bad, but the blue and grey ones just look didn’t do it for me. The lame wheel designs didn’t help and neither did the uninspiring colors. I really hope this is Alfa’s attempt at following Audi’s strategy of making the basic car look so lame that anyone with even one drop of petrolhead-blood in his body is forced to spend extra on the optional sports package (or S-line for Audi) with body kit and a nice set of wheels to make the car look the way it’s supposed to look.
The Giulia will be available in Europe with three 2,2 liter four-cylinder turbodiesel engines, the 150 hp and 180 hp versions are rear-wheel drive only and the option of manual or automatic gearbox. The 210 hp diesel will only have four-wheel drive and an automatic. The 2 liter four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine will also come in three versions all with standard automatic gearbox. The entry-level version has 200 hp with rear-wheel drive, the 250 hp version has four-wheel drive and the 280 hp version surprisingly comes standard with RWD, but optional AWD. The next step up is the QV with 510 hp, as we already know.[Read more…]