It's a tough time to be an Alfa Romeo fan these days, and things aren't looking up for the foreseeable future
Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of ILLUSTRATION: Foo Say Keong for Torque

All right, I'm aware I could've angered a fair number of Alfisti before this column has even gotten to its third paragraph, but hear me out. You can send me the death threats and anthrax-laced letters later on.

Anyway, let's be clear about one thing. I don't dislike Alfas, as such. It's difficult to hate an automaker that's so steeped in tradition. It has, for starters, more racing pedigree than Ferrari. In fact, Il Commendatore himself, the great Enzo Ferrari, got his start racing Alfa Romeos.

In its road cars, it brought Italian style and desirability (plus fi nicky Italian temperaments) to everyman.

Why, even Dear Old Dad had a GT Junior in his younger days, specifi cally the days when he was dating Dear Old Mum. Needless to say, Mum was taken in. I mean, it's hard not to when your suitor pulls up to your gate in a beautiful little Italian coupe (in Rosso Corsa, naturally). So in a sense, I have an Alfa to thank for my existence. I’m not sure Mum would've been as impressed if Dad came to get her in, say, a Datsun.

Even back then, however, Alfas were flawed. Dad used to speak of times when the car would refuse to start for no apparent reason, or the
way it would gently rust itself to bits. In more recent times, Alfa had the Brera, which was stunning to look at, but by all accounts a dog to drive. In other words, very much an Alfa.

These days, the svelte coupes are gone, replaced by the drudgery of a pair of utilitarian hatches, the Giulietta and the MiTo. Nothing terribly bad about both, but they're going toe-to-toe in a segment where Volkswagen has moved the goalposts quite a distance away. Somewhere like Mars. Put succinctly, Alfa is bringing a butter knife to a laser-cannon fight.

Yes, the Alfisti holding on for hope will point to how the stunning carbon fibre-bodied 4C is going to turn things around for the brand, but seriously, can you see yourself paying Porsche Cayman S money (or more) for one? More importantly, how is it going to attract punters to showrooms?

Halo models should help sell regular models, but Alfa Romeo's two extant models aren't particularly appealing, and the 4C is destined to be a showpiece for the sake of it, like the equally stunning 8C that came before it.

It seems that most Alfisti are still stuck in the past, in the first stage of grieving (of a total of five) – denial. I think it's high time they skipped the fluff of the next three stages (anger, bargaining, depression) and move straight on to acceptance. The sooner they accept this particular love affair has run its course and isn’t coming back, the better they'll feel.

SPH Magazines

This article first appeared in the August 2013 issue of Torque.

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