Actually he is very good at complimenting Alfa
"I suppose if any cars can be tuned, Alfas make ideal candidates, chiefly because Alfa Romeo itself is not allowed to tune them. Fiat, you see, owns just about all the car firms in Italy, and each is given a specific role.
Ferrari: your job is to win the Formula One world championship until the end of time. Maserati: your job is to make Ferraris that are a little softer and a little more practical for the middle-aged businessman who wants bespoke engineering on an everyday basis. Fiat: your job is to make cars for the walnut-faced peasantry, and Lancia: your job is to make Fiats for the more successful and style-orientated motorist.
Job done, and a car in there for everyone. But unfortunately that leaves Alfa Romeo with nothing to do. They arenít allowed to compete with any of the others and that means they have to try making cars that arenít too fast, or sporty, or luxurious, or stylish, or cheap. In other words itís in their remit to be deliberately average.
Happily, theyíre not very good at it. I drove a 166 to Wakefield last week and must say that, on paper, itís complete rubbish. Itís slower than the equivalent 5-series BMW, thirstier than a solid rocket booster and equipped with . . . well, almost nothing at all. It doesnít even come with a cupholder and the depreciation has to be experienced to be believed. Buy one tomorrow for £29,900 and in one year it will be worth just £13,000. Thatís £17,000 gone down the pan. Small wonder, I reasoned, as I plodded along, that theyíve only managed to sell two in Britain this year.
And yet, beneath the politically inspired ordinariness, you can sense it has been designed and thought-out by people who really do care. It had a soul, that car . . . a real, genuine character that somehow managed to turn every mile of the journey into a heart-warming event.
If I were to be in the market for a large four-door saloon, I wouldnít hesitate for a second. Iíd hang the cost and get myself a 166. "