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Monday 27 May 2019
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Steve Howarth’s Testdrive – FCA

SOMETIMES you just know if you love your job… and for a complete petrol head like me a day spent in the beautiful (if a little wet) Cotswolds countryside trying out a selection of great cars is right where I want to be.

Those lovely people at FCA (Fiat, Chrysler Automobiles) invited yours truly to try out their latest line up on a media drive day and I was like a kid in a sweet shop!

Where to start? Well as a true off road fan it had to be the new Jeep Wrangler and I was let loose in the 2019 top of the range Rubicon 2.2 diesel version. What a great truck – having been on a Jeep event in the Utah desert a few years ago I can testify that there is no better 4×4 when the going gets really tough.

But this time it was almost all on road and the big SUV, with its bright red paintwork and huge alloy wheels, was a prefect pose-mobile as I trundled through quaint villages and small market towns.

Despite its size the Wrangler is surprisingly easy to drive – especially as other motorists tend to get out of your way – and has all the creature comforts you would expect including an excellent eight speed auto box and full time all-wheel drive.

At £48,365 on the road it may not be cheap – but the big Jeep undercuts rivals like Porsche, Range Rover and Mercedes by a long way on price yet has kerb appeal to rival the best.

Then it was from FCA’s biggest car to their smallest – the Fiat 500 – but this was no ordinary 500, it was the Abarth 695C Rivale 1.4 T-Jet, which means an amazing 180bhp and 0 to 60 in a breath-taking 6.7 seconds with a 140mph top speed.

What a hoot! With the canvas roof down dodging the showers the 695C was perfect for flashing along country lanes bringing a big grin as you go. For a Fiat 500 £25,895 is a lot – but not for the kind of performance and fun factor this little pocket rocket brings.

And talking about performance, I then got behind the wheel of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 2.9 Bi-turbo – which has a staggering 510bhp. Here we are in supercar territory with a 0 to 60 time (in track mode) of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 191mph… in a saloon car!

And the noise it makes from those four exhaust pipes – an Italian automotive opera which was music to my ears. Like many motoring journalists I have a soft spot for Alfas and this latest one is probably the best yet – what an amazing machine, although you will have to find over £63,000 to buy one.

These were just the highlights of a great day and full reviews on the cars mentioned will be in your motors section later in the year.

For more information go to www.jeep.co.uk or www.fiat.co.uk or www.alfa.co.uk

By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth




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