UK CAR Road Test
Under the bonnet lurks the newer 5 cylinder 20 valve Turbo charged motor shoving out a healthy 220bhp. The striking looks are still there the only problem is everyone else is chucking out sharp looking coupe's too which rather waters down its visual impact.
We maybe getting used to large headline Horsepower figures, with a raft of Japanese imports and limited editions claiming 280bhp or more, and it may take the gloss off FIATS figures slightly, but lets be realistic this is more horse's than the standard pant wetting Impreza and is big power how ever you colour it.
Taking a look at the performance figures the coupe runs to a truly quick but academic 152mph, the acceleration might surprise you in that its in the low sixes when you may hope that such a small car with big power might just break into the fives. But lets bear in mind that its still only front wheel drive. Granted it has a limited slip dif and reasonable thick rubber, but the laws of physics are immutable, and fast starts transfer the weight of the car rearwards leaving only the front rubbers to throw away the power in a barrage of wheel spin
On first and gentle acquaintance you really don't believe that the power is there. The engine is smooth, vice free and powerful almost lusty low down, and you can potter about through traffic with zero drama aided by the surprisingly light clutch and positive gear change. Just as your beginning to wonder what all the fuss is about, the turbo spins up in a millisecond and the engine is transformed from boring to beast, your pressed hard back into the seat in a searing explosion of power. Throttle position become secondary and the needle screams around the rev counter on a collision course with the red line. forget turbo lag and spool up time this is like night and day like, flicking the light switch , just place the needle in the appropriate half of the Rev counter and hold on for dear life.
In this the revised version FIAT have sensibly left alone all the good bits, the sharp style is unchanged, and the simple but effective dash is retained. The only thing which I would change are the rather ugly alloy wheels which are a little too heavily stylized for my taste. The blue paint job doesn't inspire me either, but then neither did the red one as I am rather partial to the yellow ones.
That aside it remains an inspired design, it may be ageing slightly in these days of monthly facelifts, but that's probably more due to familiarity and other marques new found more daring design focus, than any real inherent faults in the style.
Being the top dog version it of course comes leather trimmed, but its in an almost simplistic sixties style, the leather may be nice but the seats are realistically not any better than the cloth trimmed version, which are pretty good already. Even with the sunroof and air conditioning they don't give an impression that the coupe has gone soft and it retains its hard edged sporty feeling. If anything as makers accelerate the specification bloat of most cars, it seems to have grown even harder
The pistol gripped steering wheel is still there and nice as ever , but now its effect is improved by the higher ratio rack from the Alfa GTV, which give it lightning flickablity and response. Ride quality was always going to be a secondary completely over the top, the newer engines drive ability off the boost makes it a perfectly faithful companion when your not in the mood, whilst its instantaneous boost gives it enough hooligan edge to keep most of us happy. Further more its not even too much of a guzzler of unleaded, in fact its barely any worse than the conventionally aspirated version overall. The only real fly in the ointment is the rather hideous insurance grouping that it has.
Still a true great and future classic
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