They say you can’t be a true petrolhead unless you’ve owned at least one Alfa Romeo. And now, at last, that undying faith has been repaid by one of the world’s most evocative brands.
Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili. If you’ve ever wondered what the ‘Alfa’ in Alfa Romeo stands for, now you know. And between its founding in Milan in 1910 and 1915, that’s precisely how it was known. But in 1915 a certain entrepreneur by the name of Nicola Romeo assumed control of the young company (the name change happened five years later, in 1920) and the rest, as they say, is history.
And it’s history that has kept Alfa Romeo going through thick and (more commonly) thin. Eleven years ago, Alfa Romeo was swallowed up by what went on to become the Fiat Chrysler Group and, despite all the bravado of FCA’s head honcho, Sergio Marchionne, time and again the company failed to deliver on its promises of brilliance that would, at long last, allow it to return to the lucrative North American market. But now the tide has turned.
Last year Alfa Romeo delivered in impeccable style with the two models that have made it into the pantheon of greats that make up eCoty: the Quadrifoglio versions of the Stelvio SUV and Giulia saloon. Both have taken the fight to stunningly brilliant rivals and emerged having bloodied the noses of cars that, even a couple of years ago, Alfa Romeo couldn’t have had a hope of beating.
At evo we can’t help but champion the underdogs – companies that soldier on in the hope that one day they’ll achieve greatness have been many,
kept afloat by enthusiasts who probably should have known better. That blind faith has now, at last, been repaid and Alfa Romeo is riding the crest of a wave that nobody apart from its rivals wants to end.
More models are in the pipeline and, if the current range is anything to go by, they will be very good indeed. From the Lotus-like 4C, which could stake a claim to being the spiritual successor to the iconic Ferrari Dino, to building the “world’s quickest” SUV and a saloon that gives BMW’s M3 sleepless nights, Alfa Romeo ownership is a more tantalising prospect than ever. And yet it’s owners that the company needs to attract if it’s to secure its long-term future.
Sales remain frustratingly slow, despite the praise being heaped upon the new models by the world’s motoring media. This is perhaps understandable, given the company’s continued uncertainty and past reliability issues. But in an age when cars are increasingly androgynous and practically aloof when it comes to the driving experiences on offer, Alfa Romeo remains as the old guard. The company knows precisely how to make a car handle, how to make it entertaining and how to make it a thing of beauty. Let’s hope it also knows how to stick around for another 108 years.