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Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Near York, UK
A couple of months ago I started to think about changing my GT 1.9 Lusso which I had bought from Chris Variava in Nottingham in 2009. The clutch had become very heavy, the car was starting to feel its age and I fancied a change. I was looking for a car with around 15k on the clock and perhaps a couple of years old.
I considered another GT but dismissed this as an option as I would only really have considered a Special Edition and thought it unlikely I would find one. I dismissed the Giulietta as a replacement as having had 2 147s I didn't want to go back to a traditional hatchback. I started looking at 159s and, dare I admit it, also considered leaving Alfa for a while but could not find anything else I wanted.
Eventually I test drove a 159Ti and a Lusso at Chris Variava (100 miles form me). I liked the Ti but not the colour of the car (white) so thought I would carry on looking. Having thought about it I then realised I did not need a big car like the 159 and felt I was back to square one.
Then I realised that Variava's had had a GT Special Edition in when I was focusing on 159s (they have a lot of cars). So I toodled off to Nottingham again the next weekend to have a look. I had bought my forst GT over the phone from them but knowing about clutch issues, I wanted to make sure this car was OK. It certainly felt a lot lighter than the clutch in my car on the 20 minute test drive. So I bought the car and wnet down again to collect it the next weekend.
Driving it the following week I started to noticed the clutch getting really heavy in traffic. It was OK on starting off and on the open road but when start/stopping in traffic I struggled to hold it down and had a pain in my hip after.This was pretty disappointing having been so concerned about it before I bought the car. I looked up the problem on the forum here. I called Variava's and dropped it off a week after buying it for them to fix the clutch under warranty. They gave me a loan car (a Mito 85 bhp diesel) and then delivered the GT back to me at work 4 days later. All exemplary service from Dave, the service manager.
But I found that the clutch was still pretty heavy but now consistently so. I really tried to convince myself it would be OK but knew deep down that I was fooling myself. Despite my best efforts I had bought a car that did not suit me anymore - even though the 170bhp way outperformed my 150bhp Lusso and had all the Cloverleaf bells and whistles and more. I still got that pain in my hip.
So on Friday, having browsed their stock list for alternatives (that white Ti and a Giulietta) I called Variava's to say I wanted to change the car under the Alfa Approved 30 day no quibble returns policy. They were surprised but were accommodating and I went down that afternoon (again - 5th time in month!) to view the Ti and a red Giulietta 140bhp diesel Veloce.
I had the same reservations about the Ti and really liked the Giulietta the moment I sat in it. It is 11 months old (though 21k on the clock) is an ex Alfa HQ car, good nick and has two years + left on the warranty. Just been serviced. It wasn't what I wanted when I started my search but I am happy how it has turned out. I will miss the GT a lot, that has been the problem all along in my search, but it's time to admit that a more modern well-equipped, more economical to run car that (fingers crossed) won't fill a page of A4 with its list of faults in the 3 years I had it is a good outcome. Why on earth I dismissed the Giulietta at the outset, I don't know!
I must commend Variavas (and particularly Richard Chadwick in sales who has never been anything but helpful and knows his stuff) who I see sometimes come in for a lot of flak on here. All I can say is they have always been straight with me as I have been with them. I did not try to claim there was a fault on the car after realising I could not live with it because some might find it OK but perhaps I should not have bought another GT. I felt a bit of a chump but they helped me resolve the situation. So thanks guys and thanks to Richard.
I have had 4 Alfa in the last 2 weeks! 2 GTs, a Mito loan car and now my new Giulietta.
I wanted to title this post 'Take Me To Your Dealer (Chris Variava)'.