Our cars: Alfa Romeo Giulietta - September
Week ending September 21
Driven this week: 126 miles
Another week in the Alfa, and sadly it's doing nothing to smooth over the cracks in our relationship. If anything, rather than enjoy its idiosyncrasies, I'm beginning to tire of its foibles.
Again, I've been spending most of my time pottering around town, and I'm continually frustrated in my efforts to drive the car smoothly. In particular, because the clutch pedal sits higher than the brake and throttle pedals, I have found it all but impossible to change gear smoothly around town – and, heaven knows, in my part of South West London, changing gear is something I do an awful lot of.
To make matters worse, the engine noise is really starting to grate. It hits some awful resonance between 2500 and 3000rpm, and that just gets worse when you lift off to change gear. Again, around town, it's something you can't escape from.
To make matters worse, the low front spoiler of the car seems have a potentially fatal attraction for the tops of the speed humps that litter the part of London I call home. Any drive around town becomes little more than a succession of bangs, scrapes and growls – and not all from the car, I have to admit!
I hoped that a trip out of town to Guildford would finally let me warm to the Alfa, but not a bit of it. In fact, I found the noise on the motorway a huge disappointment and that meant the journey was far from pleasant.
Anyone who knows me will know that my music tastes verge on the noisy. So, it will tell you all you need to know about the Giulietta's (lack of) refinement that, to counter the wind- and road noise, I had to turn the stereo up to hear the full glory of Metallica's 'Kill 'Em All'.
Tom's Alfa Romeo on video
Week ending September 14
Driven this week: 201 miles
I'm spending a few days in the Alfa's company, but it's fair to say that our relationship hasn't got off to a good start. A medical emergency for a relative meant a couple of post-work trips to Epsom Hospital this week, and they didn't show the Alfa in the best light.
What with the noisy engine, awkward pedals and reluctant gear change, it was far from a pleasure to thread through the rush-hour traffic. To make matters worse, on several occasions the stop-start system fooled me; convinced the engine had restarted, I tried to pull away only to find that it stalled and had to go through the whole noisy palaver of restarting again - not ideal when there's a menacing white van filling your mirrors, equally desperate to escape the Kingston one-way system.
In fact, the one thing I appreciate more than anything else in the car is nothing to do with Alfa. The Pure DAB radio at least meant I could tune to my beloved Planet Rock and drown out whatever it was the bloke in the white van was calling me.
Week ending September 7
Driven this week: 427 miles
The Giulietta has been tested thoroughly by our True MPG experts, and it has performed well, recording average fuel economy of 58.9mpg.
However, I haven't been getting that sort of economy in real life. As I might have mentioned before, my commute is 15 miles of suburban crawl and this is not the best way to get maximum efficiency.
The basic brim-to-brim calculations show that I am getting closer to 49mpg than 59mpg.
By Tom Webster