RE: Unstoppable Alfa meet immovable Audi | PH Footnote

RE: Unstoppable Alfa meet immovable Audi | PH Footnote

Monday 25th November

Unstoppable Alfa meets immovable Audi | PH Footnot

This week Dan has mostly been driving two of the fastest family cars on the planet. But which one does he really like?



The revelation that follows is so earth-shattering you might feel the ground move beneath your feet as you read it: motoring journalists sometimes live in a bit of a bubble. No really, it's true. We - and I absolutely include myself in this critique - tend to get so giddy about all the things that make a car brilliant to drive on a deserted mountain road that we forget people actually have to drive these things in town, or on the motorway, or in the rain, or when they've just had a vasectomy. The way a performance car acquits along that mythical cresting B-road somehow becomes the only thing that matters.

I've seen it most evidently on those end-of-year megatests that set out to crown the very best fast car of the previous 12 months. Without fail the winning machine will be low and light, focussed and raw, as unconcerned with comfort over a very long journey as it is preoccupied with lap times. In recent years it's been longtail McLarens, RS Porsches and highly-strung Ferraris. What it'll never be is the more easy-going coupe or saloon with the less effervescent character. That'll be the whipping boy of the test and it'll finish last, or not much better. But at the end of the four or five day photoshoot and with a very long and tedious drive ahead, that'll be the car whose key the testers will trip over one another trying to pocket.


I was aware of it again when testing the Audi RS5 Sportback against what I think is the best sports saloon of its generation, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. I love the way the Alfa - once you get it onto the right sort of road and when the conditions are in its favour, at least - feels like a sports car that just happens to have an extra pair of doors and a decent rear bench. It's the only high performance saloon about which that can be written. My instinct then is to heap praise upon it and declare it the triumphant winner, particularly over an Audi that conforms so slavishly to the Ingolstadt form book that it almost seems self-sycophantic.

But the Alfa has a narrow operating window and when the road doesn't flow like a ribbon tossed over the landscape, the sun isn't shining radiantly and all the other car journalist rubbish, the Giulia Quadrifoglio can be frustrating. And I wonder, if you were to offer me three years in either car, during which time I'd cover 60,000 miles and drive through three frosty winters, would I in fact prefer to be in the more secure four-wheel drive car with the far smarter interior, the much better refinement levels and the far stronger reliability record?

From December to March I probably would. And if anyone says they'd pick the Audi for year-round use over the Alfa Romeo I would understand entirely. But on balance, I actually think that as opportunities to drive a really great car become fewer and farther between, I want more and more to be in the kind of vehicle that does get your fire burning. When the clouds do part and the road ahead does open up, I want to be driving the sort of car that allows me to make the most of those rare conditions. I always think it's a shame to find yourself on a great stretch of tarmac with the sun beating down, only to realise you have a portly, leaden-footed machine labouring breathlessly beneath you. But I'm a motoring journalist. I would say that.


Search for an Alfa Romeo Giulia here

Search for an Audi RS5 Sportback here

Β 

Author
Discussion

bakes

Original Poster:

48 posts

176 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
I’ve had the Alfa for a couple of months now. Having just put winter tyres on the car is transformed in this wet and cold period we are having. No longer do the front tyres skip when manoeuvring at low speed, the car has tons of grip in the wet and feels confidence inspiring like it did in the dry. The Pirelli P Zero Corsa standard tyres make the car a lot of fun if you fancy tail sliding and wheel spins but unless it’s dry and warm or you are on track they are not the practical choice. I own various super cars and this Alfa makes the perfect winter choice. It has the quick steering rack like the Ferrari’s and really feels like you are in a 4 door Ferrari saloon. It’s different to the ubiquitous German machines and I like that. Audi and BMW make brilliant cars but they’ve lost character for me. This Alfa feels close to the E90 M3 in the way it drives and that in my opinion was the last great M3.

Dezbo

20 posts

31 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
Couldn’t agree more, you can probably guess what I drive

Pooh

3,181 posts

201 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
Do you have any evidence to support the assertion that Audi has a far stronger reliability record or is that just lazy stereotyping?
According to What Car tha Giulia and the A5 are very closely matched in terms of reliability, is there any reason to suppose that the RS 5 will be more reliable than the standard A5?

https://www.whatcar.com/news/2019-what-car-reliabi...

It is going to be very difficult for Alfa to be successful if people cannot move on from outdated stereotypes that are vastly exaggerated and not a fair representation of Alfa’s true reliability record.

heisthegaffer

1,369 posts

146 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
Pooh said:
Do you have any evidence to support the assertion that Audi has a far stronger reliability record or is that just lazy stereotyping?
According to What Car tha Giulia and the A5 are very closely matched in terms of reliability, is there any reason to suppose that the RS 5 will be more reliable than the standard A5?

https://www.whatcar.com/news/2019-what-car-reliabi...

It is going to be very difficult for Alfa to be successful if people cannot move on from outdated stereotypes that are vastly exaggerated and not a fair representation of Alfa’s true reliability record.
Here, here.

I'm fed up with the same old rubbish spouted. Look at most of the guys on here that own QFs, they've had really good experiences of the cars being reliable. I personally know a guy with one of the earliest QFs and despite his history being BMWs, Audis, mercs and Porsches, he says hands down the very best car he's owned.

Krikkit

16,772 posts

129 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
heisthegaffer said:
Here, here.

I'm fed up with the same old rubbish spouted. Look at most of the guys on here that own QFs, they've had really good experiences of the cars being reliable. I personally know a guy with one of the earliest QFs and despite his history being BMWs, Audis, mercs and Porsches, he says hands down the very best car he's owned.
Same thing with every French or Italian car- the rest of the world is nailing reliability and these cars can barely keep running.

Gus265

174 posts

81 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
Yes I’m a QF owner too. The Corsas are woeful in this weather for me and especially in South London. Understeer at 7mph is a whole new experience! Bambi on ice etc.

Anyway Michelin MP S4S tyres going on
next week. Corsas amazing in dry so will go back on in April. If these MPs though are as good as everyone says, I can’t see me ever getting another car as the daily! It’s just the best fun and coolest looking saloon out there.

And I have had M3s, M4s etc etc

llcoolmac

69 posts

48 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
It's one thing to claim Alfa are unreliable but when people repeatedly claim that the German cars are paragons of reliabtthats where I have the problem. Everyone and their dog who has owned any VW product knows that they have a woeful reliability track record. Very expensive cars to maintain. BMW are just as bad and they have a track record of catastrophic engine failures in their recent M cars too.

But this never seems to get mentioned in the reviews of their latest cars. Never.

Earl of Petrol

117 posts

70 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
Yawn

Brooking10

7,291 posts

89 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
My early build Quadrifoglio was appalling in terms of reliability.

It's woefulness in that regard surpassed only by the ineptitude of ARUK.

I miss it though.

A lot.

And wouldn't consider the RS4 in the same breath.



chelme

704 posts

118 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
llcoolmac said:
It's one thing to claim Alfa are unreliable but when people repeatedly claim that the German cars are paragons of reliabtthats where I have the problem. Everyone and their dog who has owned any VW product knows that they have a woeful reliability track record. Very expensive cars to maintain. BMW are just as bad and they have a track record of catastrophic engine failures in their recent M cars too.

But this never seems to get mentioned in the reviews of their latest cars. Never.
I sense it's because publishers do not want to upset the highly tribal consumer for fear of losing a significant portion of their readership, and they are also influenced by revenue, not just from those who read about the products, but also by those that produce the products and advertise. The press is not regulated, so subtle bias and corruption creeps in.

Sadly a significant proportion of the public are swayed by unsubstantiated and cliche ridden prejudices - human nature - perpetuated by the press and few allow themselves to think critically when excited about a product that will 'make them look and feel good' in the eyes of others.

And then you have the German manufacturers nailing their marketing so effectively. The Brits and Italians just produce good cars that in substance equal or surpass their German counterparts in significant areas, but in many cases they have been outgunned in this game for so long (Alfa, Jaguar) and the press are disinclined to upset the order of things...

I find it amusing how on the one hand for example, a magazine harps on about 'perceived quality' of interior, when actually its more to do with perceived luxury, as if it is some measurable aspect of ownership, yet is disinclined to value the aesthetic value of an attractive car, saying 'this is subjective'. Eh?!?

Whether an interior piece is quality, should surely depend on whether it meets the brief reliably?! For example, it does the job and does not fail?

So we have Porche 911s, that are 'built like tanks' yet their engines explode, or BMWs that have had Vanos systems fail, Nikasil engines fail entirely, Mercedes E Class cars built in the late 90s and 2000 that rust heavily....but an Alfa is linched and quartered in the press because an engine warning light comes on and when taken to a dealership, it's just fixed, by turning it off. BUT it's the Alfa that is the unreliable one...the engine light came on probably because the car was thrashed, and a sensor complained, not because the engine exploded. Just one exanple.

Best approach is to take whatever that is published with a a large dollop of salt.

Having said this, I really liked what Dan Posser has posted on the Car Guru website as I considered this to be an authentic piece about two cars and how HE feels about them, and not just some box ticking exercise publishers have to follow, arguably being unduly influenced by their 'stakeholders' i.e. manufacturers who will pull advertising or goodies that come with trips to Portugal etc...and highly tribal fans who will unsubscribe and complain.


Edited by chelme on Sunday 24th November 11:15


Edited by chelme on Sunday 24th November 11:21


Edited by chelme on Sunday 24th November 11:31

mcelliott

5,594 posts

129 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
Apart from the Alfa looking a million dollars and the Audi looking dogste it's a close run thing.

Mr Whippy

21,922 posts

189 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
Are the AR dealers any good?

Or are there a good number of quality independents?

I quite fancy trying one of these in a few years to replace my 335Xd for family duties.

I’m happy to pay money to fix a car worth fixing, it’s just finding someone you trust paying good money to fix it which is where I get nervous with owning a £££ AR.

joedesi

59 posts

162 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
Great article and video Dan.

The problem is not reliability or interior quality.

The recently updated models also appear to have significantly improved the infotainment.

It’s the dealer network. End of.

DeltaEvo2

727 posts

140 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
chelme said:
llcoolmac said:
It's one thing to claim Alfa are unreliable but when people repeatedly claim that the German cars are paragons of reliabtthats where I have the problem. Everyone and their dog who has owned any VW product knows that they have a woeful reliability track record. Very expensive cars to maintain. BMW are just as bad and they have a track record of catastrophic engine failures in their recent M cars too.

But this never seems to get mentioned in the reviews of their latest cars. Never.
I sense it's because publishers do not want to upset the highly tribal consumer for fear of losing a significant portion of their readership, and they are also influenced by revenue, not just from those who read about the products, but also by those that produce the products and advertise. The press is not regulated, so subtle bias and corruption creeps in.

Sadly a significant proportion of the public are swayed by unsubstantiated and cliche ridden prejudices - human nature - perpetuated by the press and few allow themselves to think critically when excited about a product that will 'make them look and feel good' in the eyes of others.

And then you have the German manufacturers nailing their marketing so effectively. The Brits and Italians just produce good cars that in substance equal or surpass their German counterparts in significant areas, but in many cases they have been outgunned in this game for so long (Alfa, Jaguar) and the press are disinclined to upset the order of things...

I find it amusing how on the one hand for example, a magazine harps on about 'perceived quality' of interior, when actually its more to do with perceived luxury, as if it is some measurable aspect of ownership, yet is disinclined to value the aesthetic value of an attractive car, saying 'this is subjective'. Eh?!?

Whether an interior piece is quality, should surely depend on whether it meets the brief reliably?! For example, it does the job and does not fail?

So we have Porche 911s, that are 'built like tanks' yet their engines explode, or BMWs that have had Vanos systems fail, Nikasil engines fail entirely, Mercedes E Class cars built in the late 90s and 2000 that rust heavily....but an Alfa is linched and quartered in the press because an engine warning light comes on and when taken to a dealership, it's just fixed, by turning it off. BUT it's the Alfa that is the unreliable one...the engine light came on probably because the car was thrashed, and a sensor complained, not because the engine exploded. Just one exanple.

Best approach is to take whatever that is published with a a large dollop of salt.

Having said this, I really liked what Dan Posser has posted on the Car Guru website as I considered this to be an authentic piece about two cars and how HE feels about them, and not just some box ticking exercise publishers have to follow, arguably being unduly influenced by their 'stakeholders' i.e. manufacturers who will pull advertising or goodies that come with trips to Portugal etc...and highly tribal fans who will unsubscribe and complain.


Edited by chelme on Sunday 24th November 11:15


Edited by chelme on Sunday 24th November 11:21


Edited by chelme on Sunday 24th November 11:31
Could have not put it better myself! I salute you.

Max_Torque

14,383 posts

165 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
DanP said:
I love the way the Alfa - once you get it onto the right sort of road and when the conditions are in its favour, at least - feels like a sports car that just happens to have an extra pair of doors and a decent rear bench. It's the only high performance saloon about which that can be written
I'm sorry, but what a load of cobblers! No modern "High performance saloon" feels like a proper sports car, because they are all massive, heavy, and have an engine up front. IME, the current M3 is at least as good as the Alfa (better under certain circumstances, with some objective advantages such as brake feel/performance, and transmission shift speed and accuracy). But it, like the Alfa is NOT a sports car, and never will be!

urquattroGus

1,118 posts

138 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
I’m another one of those guys that has had a Giulia Quad for nearly three years with next to no issues, I’ve built a real bond with this car that I usually one get with older cars. It’s been a joy yo own and on winter tyres it’s feels great during the winter, the only caveat being a heated rear screen that must be some kind of joke by Alfa! The Audi does nothing for me....

Just bought a BMW M Coupe as a toy, reminds me of when the Germans really did offer a drivers car and M Power meant something other than lots of bhp and a big chintzy grille.

Max_Torque

14,383 posts

165 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
chelme said:
the engine light came on probably because the car was thrashed, and a sensor complained, not because the engine exploded.
But that "fault" is simply indicative of the lower development effort that went into the Alfa. You can absolutely thrash the tyres clean off say an M3, and you won't get any spurious warning lights, simply becuase BMW's validation test team have done that sort of thing so much, that any issue in that area, no matter how "trivial" (and as a driver, you don't know how "trivial" a warning light actually is until you get it to the dealer and their diagnostic suite...) has been eradicated long before any actual owners get to try it.

And yes, all modern cars can suffer catastrophic failures, but in reality, cars have never been as reliable as they are now, especially when you take into account the power and performance they have and the efficiency they can manage when not being thrashed. I recently had an m3 on loan, and trundling around it returned mid 30's mpg, if you really drove like granny you might even get it up towards 40 mpg. 20 years ago, a BMW M5, with 60 fewer horsepower and 50 fewer Nm of torque, would basically do 25 mpg, however carefully you drove it. The downside of this wide ranging capability is that modern engines and powertains are very complex and highly stressed, so failures can, and do, occur.

There is no doubt that Alfa made an amazing leap onwards in terms of, well, everything with the Giulia, but it isn't as well engineered as it's German rivals


don't get me wrong i wouldn't buy the Audi either, but for very different reasons...... ;-)


cayman-black

8,284 posts

164 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
lol, as the posts above have stated about loads of the German opposition supposedly reliability, Porsche springs to mind with one of there most rated cars the 991 GT3 which nearly all of them have had a new engine fitted by Porsche and they have had to warranty that car for a few years, good help the owners once this expires.
As for the Giulia, i have read hardly any owners complain of reliability problems and i,m on the Alfa forums. The only place a car like the Audi seems to better it is in there Main dealer showrooms and presumably after service which is where the Alfa seems to be let down in the UK.
Still i would love there to be a four wheel drive option for the Alfa.

cayman-black

8,284 posts

164 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
Earl of Petrol said:
Yawn
I agree , i Yawn at the mention of Audi as well.

Eazy71

4 posts

4 months

Sunday 24th November
quotequote all
I’ve owned 4 Alfa’s including the current QF - they’ve all had their annoyances but none has been what I would call unreliable - certainly comparable to my last BMW 428i.

The worst car I ever owned was a previous generation A5 - I was without it for 6 weeks to have a complete engine rebuild after 10,000 miles. I’ll never buy Audi again. The only car I’ve ever owned that I would call “perfectly reliable” was a Subaru - bulletproof.