I think it is because it is otherwise so damned beautiful that I keep finding niggling faults with my new Alfa Romeo. None of them by itself is worth spending a penny on fixing, with labor charged at £45 an hour. There is now a list of 14, as I propose to enumerate.
- The quality inspector obviously decided in view of the fact that it was only for the UK market to overlook that the carpet on the front passenger side was not cut correctly. There is a visually distracting, oddly shaped gap between it and the side trim below the door.
- The system whereby you dial-in the gap you want the sunroof to open and it opens for you automatically by precisely that amount sometimes means it doesn’t. Open, that is. You have to keep trying until it does, rather negating the convenience factor.
- The seatbelt warning light keeps flashing on to tell me my seatbelt isn’t fastened, when it really is.
- The windscreen-wipers don’t automatically wipe the windscreen after you have used the squirter to clean it.
- Turning the engine off also turns off the radio/CD player. You have to turn the ignition key all the way off, then back to the Start position to continue listening, risking the engine firing while the car is in gear; and will have missed an interesting news item or Wayne Shorter solo by the time sound returns.
- There is a CD player, but no CD storage. I had to buy a neat little pouch to carry my CDs around. It takes 36 CDs! Only you can’t get them out and load them with one hand while the vehicle is in motion. So you have to stop every time a CD finishes. The player takes only one CD at a time (and does not have an MP3 or iPod connection).
- The fuel indicator buzzes discreetly to tell me we are running out, the computer shows me a worrying graph to tell me we are running out, of diesel when there is still apparently 100 miles at least left in the tank.
- The fuel filler cap lock just goes on turning round and round with the key in, without either unlocking or locking the cap, whichever you need to do, causing delays at the pump while other motorists discuss in shocked tones what I just said.
- The gorgeous, deep blood-red Alfa paintwork is so soft that you can scratch it with your fingernail. Be careful opening the doors! Be careful parking next to bushes! Don’t drive anywhere near hard objects.
- Putting down the back seats and putting them back up again with the seatbelt stalks in working position is a logistical and ergonomic nightmare, involving the use of all three doors while performing gymnastics in the prone position. Having said that, the front seats do glide away effortlessly; they just won’t glide back again with the rear seats down. Luckily, I don’t know enough people to need rear seats.
- The JTDm diesel unit is clattery and suffers from turbo-lag at low revs (see, I can be technical too! What I mean is, while my car is very fast, it pulls away too slowly and noisily. I have had hairy moments overtaking in second gear, when the revs just die).
- Some minor encounter with the rear bumper has caused one of the ‘magic eye’ reversing detectors to pop out of its seating. Now the car beeps continuously as soon as you put it in reverse. The detector is detecting the inside of the bumper and overriding the three other detectors. It is telling you ‘Stoppa! you is reversing your beautifulla Italian design icon into a lamp-a-post!’ But you is not. Probably.
- Unless there is a phone app for car thieves, the Alfa cannot be started without the electronic signal from its key. It cannot be hotwired. Little purpose is therefore served by having a neurotic theft alarm, that will not allow you to leave the car with a window even partly open or the wind or the movement of the dog sets it off.
- The nearest Alfa service agent is 65 miles away.
But the car is a joy to drive! The upholstery is all pale beige, handstitched leather! All the brightwork and distinctive Alfa grille are solid metal, there is no chrome plastic anywhere! It is gorgeous! Like other Alfa owners, I smile secretly with joy whenever I look at it! When I blog about it, I run out of exclamation marks
This has caused me to wonder. I’ve never had a really stunning-looking partner, you know, the supermodel type who turns heads. My relationships have been of a practical-cum-spiritual, rather than an aesthetic, nature. If I lived with an objectively glamorous person, would I be more critical of their minor flaws, as I am with my gorgeous Alfa Romeo? As I am with myself?