Alfa Romeo’s Resurgence

Alfa Romeo. If you have watched any Top Gear, Fifth Gear, /Drive, or read any magazine within the past 60 years, the Italian brand stands forefront as the true car-lover’s machine. Everything written on Alfa Romeos since the 60s tells that despite its flaws and mechanical/electrical issues, owning an Alfa is a special experience as it becomes the car you love and adore the most. It is a car company with passion, flair, pedigree and heritage, and lots of soul. If you noticed, Super Bowl XLI’s sponsorship came from Alfa. I found this quite impressive considering the company has only recently resurfaced here in the United States a decades-long hiatus. Fiat, it seems, must be pouring tons of money into the brand not just with advertisement dollars but with a real product to compete in what is probably the toughest segment of the car industry: the Giulia and Giulia Quadrifoglio. With the likes of the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4, and numerous other entries from companies such as Cadillac, Jaguar, and Infiniti, the market space is super tight and competitive.

If you do a quick Google or YouTube search for the Giulia, you will see it has received massive applause – they say this is Alfa Romeo’s return to its former glory. They say this car trumps the big German three. The Giulia remains Alfa’s third entry since returning to the States, and it needed to get it right to make a permanent market space for themselves in the automotive world here but also in that particular segment of sedans. While I have not had a chance to test one, I will say this: it is beautiful (just like 99% of the Alfa Romeos out there). It ticks the right buttons: beauty, Italian, and unique. What do you think of Alfa Romeo’s resurgence in the States? Is it a sign of a new and returned juggernaut in the automotive world? What of Fiat’s leadership and goals with the company? Please comment below!

Drive Spiritedly.

-JRB

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The Perfect Car?

What is the perfect car? Is that car even made or has it ever been made? When thinking of what the ideal car would be, one must understand what they want in a car. I will admit, this is somewhat of a subjective question. But honestly, what really isn’t subjective in some form or another? For the ideal car, it must be reliable. After all, cars, as part of their essence, are tools and means to get from point A to point B and back again. Unless you are transient and continue onto point C. Reliability brings up, in my mind at least, manufactures like Honda, Toyota, Subaru, older Chevrolets and Fords, and Mercedes-Benz. Another criteria on the list would be safety. Fortunately, there are several agencies that will happily give you ratings on the safety of vehicles from all sorts of angles and tests. Economy is another important criteria. You don’t want to burn through your wallet/purse as you go to work only to fill that wallet or purse back up again for the return trip home.

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However, I think one of the more important qualities that often gets overlooked is excitement. I don’t think this quality is necessary for a car, but it is necessary for the perfect car. If you grab your keys, head out the door, and the car doesn’t at least provide a little satisfaction or excitement during the process of driving, then that car becomes something less. It becomes nothing more than the terrible, unwieldy hammer in your workshop: a tool. Perhaps excitement is a luxury. However, this is your perfect car, and life is too short to not have some excitement even if it is on your daily commute. The great thing is that excitement in the automotive world comes in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges – you can have the reliability, the economy, and the safety while also having the excitement.

What is your perfect car? Please comment below! Don’t forget to follow and subscribe to this blog!

Drive Spiritedly.

-JRB

Mercedes-Benz CLA and GLA – A Quality Benz for Everyone

When first looking at Mercedes-Benz’s newest family members, it’s evident that a new target audience was in mind throughout the entire development process. To be brutally honest, Mercedes-Benz has usually been defined as a “Gen X” vehicle. The smoother ride, the more classic body styling; all the way around, the pre-2008 Mercedes-Benz vehicles were never “designed” for the younger audience. In 2008, Mercedes-Benz began to take on a more youthful, refined look beginning in its C-Class.

Now in 2014, Mercedes-Benz is producing vehicles with all-out aggressive styling. At the forefront of this asphalt-eating pack are the CLA and GLA vehicles and classes.

The CLA, having been out for about a year now, is a four door coupé. Before you get all up in arms about the term “four door coupé,” let me explain the term. The vehicle is designed with four doors for convenience purposes. With this car being targeted towards a younger audience, it needs to push the limits of the automotive industry. The deep swooping back mimics that of a traditional coupé, but the vehicle offers the convenience of a four door sedan. Additionally, the trunk offers ample space for large items. If there were no rear doors, the vehicle would still look like a nice car, but adding the rear doors makes it something in its own league.

The GLA, in direct competition with the BMW X1, does all it should do and more. With more standard features than BMW even offers as options, the GLA sits nicely at the head of its class. It sits on the same chassis as the CLA, but offers a totally different experience. Being a small SUV, it doesn’t feel so small on the inside. Between the standard power lift gate that can be adjusted to open to the height you want, and the modern and sleek interior, it doesn’t feel like you’re in a car that starts in the low 30-thousand range. It has a low and wide stance, adding to the aggressive look.

Both vehicles have a standard power plant of a turbo charged inline four cylinder that offers enough pep to make the drive really fun, and fuel efficient. The 7 speed, dual-clutch transmission in these vehicles is the exact same one that is offered in the high end AMG models, such as the SLS AMG and the AMG GT. Both vehicles have similar front ends as well. They look similar to a set of hawk eyes glaring at you for a demeanor that is young, sleek, and ultimately fierce.
Overall, these vehicles are definitely something to check out when looking to purchase your next vehicle. The battle that so many tend to fight of “Mercedes-Benz is too expensive for me” is no longer a relevant argument. With the CLA starting at just under $30,000 and the GLA starting at just over $33,000, these prove to be more realistic options for many more people. If you want to go for a more high-end option, both the CLA and GLA offer an AMG model as well. And don’t kid yourself. If you think these aren’t genuine Mercedes-Benz products because of their price, drive one. All of your expectations will be met and surpassed.

Allen Cardosi, Automotive Contributor

Edited by JRB, Editor-in-Chief

The Spirited Drive Returns! – It’s Back!

And The Spirited Drive is back! Apologies for the hiatus, but life seems to have an interesting way of postponing the truly important things; like this blog. So, in order to speed up the omg-its-back process, highlights of what has happened this past year, what is happening now, and what is to happen in the world of automobiles that excite, make the heart race, and are easy on the eyes will be posted starting this coming Monday. There will be pieces including the return of Alfa Romeo to the U.S., the new BMW M4/M3, McLaren P1 amazingness, new things from Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG, and many other exciting pieces. Expect a steady release of news, opinions, and stories every week that involve all things automobile.

While this past year has been a difficult separation from the duties of the blog, the auto world has been a buzz! It is such an exciting time to be into anything with a motor, wheels, and a steering-wheel: new models are being released; new concepts are being drawn; and new technologies are breaking ground in the automotive world. As well as a plethora of pieces coming out in The Spirited Drive blog, expect more pictures (eventually), new video content (to be debuted on the YouTube network and channel), and more social media updates. Remember to subscribe to this blog via email, but also remember to follow The Spirited Drive on Twitter @SpiritedDrive and to subscribe to the YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/TheSpiritedDrive! We will also be opening up a Google+ account as well! Remember as always to have a spirited drive every now and then!

– JRB, Editor-in-Chief