Tag Archives: Fiat

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Alfa Romeo’s Giulia makes us giggle it’s so much fun …2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

            Rare is the sports sedan, or any car, that makes you giggle when you tromp on its gas pedal. Rare too is a car that makes your friends envious.

Corvettes have become too common, Jaguars too mainstream, BMWs too numerous. No, for something special you want an Italian sports car, preferably in red and preferably with a sexy sounding name. You want something not everyone of a certain economic standing has.

Today, that car is an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. That’s Giulia, as in the woman’s name, Julia. And the Quadrifoglio? Well, that means four-leaf clover, which is emblazoned on the car’s front quarter panels. More on that in a bit.

Alfa Romeo embodies Italian car history, especially its racing history. It’s who Enzo Ferrari worked for, or with, before Ferrari became Ferrari. Despite its long history the Italian make pulled out of the U.S. market in 1995 and only recently, along with its parent, Fiat, has come back.2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Giulia is the car it needs to regain a foothold in the American market and from a performance standpoint it is an absolute home run. Or in the sporting vernacular of its homeland, GOOOOOOOAL!

With any sports car, or sports sedan, one must start with the power plant. Alfa snags a 2.9-liter bi-turbo V6 created by Ferrari and it is magnifico! It’s strong and sings like one of the Three Tenors, a thing of beauty. Continue reading 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Die-cast: Autoart’s Alfa Romeo 4C

Alfa Romeo 4C an Italian beauty …Autoart Alfa Romeo 4C

Alfa Romeo has come and gone and come again to the U.S. market, but it has held a special place in the hearts of performance-oriented drivers in Europe consistently for 100+ years.

Now Alfa is back at it with the 4C in the United States, sold through its Fiat dealerships. Finally, Alfa has a sexy sports coupe to rekindle some of the excitement the brand carried here in the 1950s and ’60s.

Lucky us, since we can’t afford a motorized Alfa, Autoart has created a spiffy 1/18 scale version using its new composite material that looks as good, or better, than its die-cast models of the past.Autoart Alfa Romeo 4C

The History

Alfa has a long history with about as many twists and turns as an Italian Alpine mountain road has switchbacks. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart’s Alfa Romeo 4C

2015 Jeep Renegade Limited 4×4

Jeep’s new baby still can crawl off road

renegade4A lot of folks are calling the Renegade the Baby Jeep, and there’s some truth to that because it’s the smallest Jeep and solidly puts the brand into the growing small crossover/sport-ute segment.

Renegade rides on a short 101.2-inch wheelbase and shares a platform with parent company Fiat’s 500X, its new all-wheel-drive version of the tiny 500. This Jeep is made in Melfi, Italy, along with Fiats.

But make no mistake, you still get the full square-on Jeep look with flat bars in the grille and an ability to go off road. So it’s as Jeepy as other Jeeps and even offers a Trailhawk model that upgrades its off-roading capabilities. For instance, the tested Limited 4×4 has 7.9 inches of ground clearance whereas the Trailhawk has 8.7 inches of clearance.

renegade2Yet mostly this is a small Jeep for folks who like the look, but prefer decent gas mileage, a lower price tag and the utility of a small sport-utility or crossover. There’s some step-up when crawling in, but this isn’t a major stretch as in some utes. This is more car than truck.

Like the Fiat 500, the Renegade offers a variety of engine choices and transmissions and in essence fills the price gap from $20 grand to $30 grand. The silver test Renegade pushed the upper limits at $31,120 due to the addition of optional equipment.

Continue reading 2015 Jeep Renegade Limited 4×4

Braking News: 2016 Fiat 500X

Will utilize the Jeep Renegade platform

Paris auto show, new car introductions, fiat 500x, fiat
Yahoo

At the Paris Auto Show today Fiat introduced its entry into the super hot mini-suv category, the 500X. Fiat is hoping the suv will give its sales a bump start. Not sure if you see this too but the rear looks Mini-ish. Read on.

2015 Chrysler 200C AWD

Fiat gives Chrysler a fine mid-size car with new 200C

The 200C (left) and 200S feature sophisticated styling and one might argue, a bit of Italian flair.
The 200C (left) and 200S feature sophisticated styling and one might argue, a bit of Italian flair.

The former Chrysler 200 was so long in the tooth you may have wanted to nickname it Snagglepuss.

It was updated a couple years back by Fiat, after it snaggled Chrysler away from bankruptcy and the U.S. government. Mostly, that change in ownership has done nothing but help Chrysler’s various lineups, and the new Chrysler 200 again confirms that.

The midsize sedan, which rides on the Jeep Cherokee platform (see my interview with the lead engineer done at the Chicago Auto Show) so is available with all-wheel-drive, carries the rounded styling first seen on the sporty Dodge Dart. This is a handsome sedan with swept back rear quarter to give it both a modern and sporty profile. The tested C model with AWD tops the 200 lineup and its $30,195 starting price reflects that. This isn’t your great aunt’s old Chrysler 200 winter beater car.

The 200 comes in basic LX trim with a list price of $22,695 and in that form is front-wheel drive with a competent 184-horse MultiAir 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. A mid-level S model is available in all- and front-drive as is this upscale C model.

This C stands out due to its more powerful 3.6-liter V6 that features variable valve timing and delivers 295 horses and a torque rating of 262. Tires also grow to 18 inches and the interior is decked out with leather trimmed heated seats and a load of bells and whistles. The vivid blue pearl (bright metallic blue) test car ladled on three option packages to doll itself up and hit a rather optimistic $34,675, including a $795 delivery charge.

The 200 looks attractive from the rear too.
The 200 looks attractive from the rear too.

The car itself feels more modern and refined that past 200 models. The engine is strong and will get to highway speeds easily, even with four people aboard. This is a fine highway cruiser for the family and the giant 16-cubic-foot trunk will accommodate a load of luggage.

While the car feels strong, it doesn’t really jump from a stop as you might expect. It feels heavy despite a moderate 3,473 lbs. Its 9-speed (that’s right!) automatic transmission is designed to save gas, but not to put the car on a speedy trajectory, especially in city driving. The car is rated 18 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. I averaged a fine 24.2 mpg in about 75% highway driving and with up to four aboard. Continue reading 2015 Chrysler 200C AWD

2014 Fiat 500L Lounge

Fiat goes long with 500L (get it?) to connect with more buyers

The 500L fairly dwarfs Fiat's standard 500 model.
The 500L fairly dwarfs Fiat’s standard 500 model.

Credit Fiat for quickly deducing that its cute, but diminutive, 500 runabout simply won’t do for many U.S. families. The Italian automaker that owns Chrysler needed something that would cast a wider net when trying to land more customers on our shores.

Voila! The 500L!

This is a small crossover or wagon much along the lines of MINI’s Clubman. That’s to say it’s boxy and big enough to hold four adults and some groceries under the hatch. It remains cute, like the MINI is cute, but no one will mistake it for the much smaller Fiat 500 that its name implies it descends from.

But this is a different beast in that at 167.1 inches the 500L is nearly two feet longer, plus a little wider and taller, than the tiny 500. The 500L rides on a much larger 102.8-inch wheelbase, a little shorter than a Subaru Forester, for example, and nearly a foot longer than Fiat’s 500. The L is no featherweight either, at 3,203 lbs. it’s about 900 lbs. heavier than its smaller sibling.

I parked the 500L next to a standard MINI in a fast food parking lot and was amazed at how much larger the Fiat looked.

What all this size means is that the 500L rides well, but remains a good handler, like its smaller model, the 500. The suspension does a surprisingly good job of soaking up our roads’ numerous imperfections. Some larger crossovers and small utes don’t feel this well controlled. As with the 500 model, this one’s ride quality surprises. Continue reading 2014 Fiat 500L Lounge

2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4

New Cherokee brings modern look, but same off-road capability

Some folks had their doubts about Chrysler and Jeep when Italian carmaker Fiat assumed control of them a few years back. Now Fiat owns them outright and the new product parade can’t have been more impressive.

jeep1Latest on the list is the new Jeep Cherokee. It’s an old name, but that’s all that’s old here. Thankfully the looks are all new with thin lights front and rear and a modern interpretation of Jeep’s 7 portal grille. Jeep loyalists that think all Jeeps should still look like World War II Willys will just have to get over it. Besides, the Jeep Luddites still have the Wrangler to take rock crushing.

Yet because most folks Don’t drive their SUVs over cliffs and through mud bogs, the new Cherokee is a welcome replacement for the top-heavy, gas-sucking Liberty. Cherokee is refined in looks and execution. It’s a fine on-road vehicle that oh, by the way, still could be taken off road and slopped around a bit.

First let’s look at the new mechanicals that help make this Jeep, which is based on the Dodge Dart platform, such a step up from Liberty.

Atop the efficiency list is the combination of its 2.4-liter MultiAir2 Tigershark I4 engine that creates 184 horsepower, and the segment’s first 9-speed automatic transmission. That’s right, 9 speeds. Most vehicles now use a 6-speed automatic, but Fiat puts a ZF-developed 9-speed into Cherokee. The upshot is not only decent power, but smooth fuel-efficient application of that to the road. The only hiccup I experienced was occasionally on a cold start when the car would hesitate in first and second gear and bog just a bit. All was fine once the SUV warmed.

How efficient is this combo? Continue reading 2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4