Monday, September 30, 2019

Comparison Review - Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti vs Giulia QV



Here you have it- straight from the owner's experience of a 1330 mile road trip in the above beautiful Alfa Romeos.  On the left we have an ultra rare, 2019 NRING Quadrifoglio in Circuito Gray.  Car #07 of only 55 made for the US market.  Delivered to your writer on September 7, 2019.  (Alfa Romeo of Rochester, NY)  And on the right we have a 2017 Giulia Ti Sport in Alfa White with red interior. Purchased on April 12, 2017 from Sunset Alfa Romeo of Sarasota, FL.

I must say, the team at Alfa Romeo USA of Rochester was super to work with, always client focused and they pay attention to the details.  I dealt directly with Matt Sherman and if Matt was busy and I had a question, team members Bobby Carlin and Ian Phillips were always there to help. Matt was reliable and always followed through during my wait for the car to arrive.  And the day it arrived, Matt personally accompanied me in 'unwrapping' the new delivery.  I'll post a video and story on the 'birth of the NRING' at Alfa Romeo of Rochester soon.  My buying experience was a pleasant one. and although I'm not in Rochester for most of the year, I will make it a point to stop by and say hello to the guys when I'm in town.

Now on to the cars:

At first glance the outward appearance is pretty similar, but looking closer, the NRING is smothered in carbon fiber, including front splitter, hood, roof, rear spoiler, door sills, mirrors,  rocker panel trim, steering wheel, console, dash, and door trim.

Trim is trim- other things that make the performance stand out on the NRING include the huge brake discs, wider P Zero Corsa tires, fully functional hood, fender and front and rear brake cooling vents and a massive rear air dam.  If you look under the NRING you can also see several subtle air flow diverting fins that were developed as a result of hours in Ferrari's wind tunnel.  This and the Ti Sport both benefit from the one time collaboration between Alfa Romeo and Ferrari engineers when the cars were designed.

But the biggest difference in the punch in the back upon acceleration is the Ferrari derived 2.9 Liter V6 in the NRING Quad vs the 2.0 Liter 4. It translates to 505 horses under your foot as opposed to a herd of 280 in the Ti.  Don't get the wrong impression about the Ti Sport. It is very quick.  But the NRING is scare you to death fast, especially in RACE mode.  You had better hold onto the reigns of those 505 ponies when you hammer the throttle.

Here's my thoughts as they flow onto the paper after having made the NY- Florida trip on the same route with each car. And to give you a visual or two, a picture here and there is added to keep it interesting.   For example, here's a picture of my Ti Sport after climbing two miles uphill heading south out of Williamsport, PA.  A brief stop at the scenic overlook gave me and the car a chance to rest.



So how do they compare in the real world of driving as in a road trip from New York to Florida in 20 hours or less? One of the best ways to see the difference in the cars' performance is in the hills of Pennsylvania on RT 15 between Mansfield and Williamsport.  The road south towards Williamsport is made for a Grand Touring car. There are miles of four lane, divided highway that are surprisingly smooth and curve around, up and down mountains. Or large hills if you compare it to the Rockies.

The Ti Sport handles them with ease and because the car is lighter than the NRING by around 350 pounds it is quite nimble, especially around the tighter bends.  Consider that you a doing 80-90 around bends that look more like corners at that speed. It has plenty of pull up the long hills, although you are into the turbo a lot of the time.

 The NRING Quad on the other hand is on another level.  Getting to 100 going uphill is nothing for this twin turbo beast and  I really had to be careful to stay out of the throttle as the car wanted to give you more and more speed when you didn't want or need it. I would never attempt it on a public road in the US, but I can see this car cruising comfortably, as if sitting in an easy chair at 120-130.  It is that stable and glued to the road. The Ferrari wind tunnel testing proved its worth in the final product! The Quad version is also the only sedan with an active aero front spoiler that lowers above 71 MPH to give an added 200+ pounds of downforce to the front end.
As you can see here in the showroom that black, carbon fiber active front wing.  Good they thought of that as the car really benefits from it.  And if you consider the car has a top speed of 191 MPH, it become essential for stability.

At Watkins Glen International For The US Vintage Grand Prix Races

That brings me back to the Ti Sport.  The word stability.  That describes the Ti's strength.  It is lighter than big brother, but it feels incredibly well balanced and planted on the road at Interstate highway speeds of 70-80 MPH. And it keeps its feeling of stability in the rain, inspiring confidence when driving it.

Both cars benefit from the ZF 8 speed automatic. The guys/ gals that programmed that need to get an award. Each car feels the same- hit the throttle and the gear you want is right there- no need to paddle shift to get there (Unless you want to play around with the gigantic paddles for fun).   I had a Porsche Cayman with the 7 speed PDK automatic and it never was in the gear I wanted, largely due to a sweet 6 that needed to be above 3500 rpm's to make any kind of power. But the two Alfas are lower revving, torque machines that just catapult you forward any time you press the pedal down. It's intoxicating- almost like an electric golf cart when you feel that initial acceleration- only these two keep building speed until you cry uncle and get off the gas!

So in summary, each Alfa has its strengths. The steering on each is phenomenal. That has been reported in every road test I've seen on these cars. (Try driving one and you will see)   The Ti is lighter, slightly more nimble due to a smaller turning radius and it gets better gas mileage, of course. It is a fantastic car to drive long distance and the sport seats (the same as in the Quad/ NRING) are super comfortable over hours of driving.

The NRING/ Quad is everything the Ti Sport is and more.  It is actually quieter in everyday driving and it has a slightly smoother ride, if you can believe it- certainly surprised me.  But I think that is due to the extra weight it is carrying. The V6 is so smooth, and with the twist of the dial to Dynamic or RACE modes, the car becomes a beast.  Like having two completely different cars. The speed this thing builds will make you pay attention to what's going on.


In the two years since I purchased the Ti Sport there have been some refinements too. I notice that the AC fan control works easier on the NRING/ Quad- you turn one click and the fan speed changes- in the 2017 Ti Sport you turn one click and it displays the speed setting, then you turn a second time and it changes the fan speed.  A small detail but a big improvement.  Another observation, the headrest in the NRING/ Quad is much softer and more comfortable to put your head back to relax.  The Ti Sport's headrest is hard like a board. A small detail but again when you drive 20 hours it makes a big difference. I also noted the AC fan speed reduces automatically in the 2019 when the car shuts off via the Stop function at a stop light. This is very good when you live in Florida and its 95 degrees out.  The cool air runs out quickly if the fan is blowing on high.  I manually turn my AC down every time I stop with the 2017 car.  Again small details that add up.

I hope you have learned a little about these two cars. Each one is a superstar in its own right. Both are tremendous values for the dollar. They are, simply put, four door Ferraris. And the NRING/ Quad is honestly a four door supercar! It is an astounding value for the money.

Here's a few more pictures of this incredible machine:






From New York to Florida, what a car to take a road trip in!

Alfa Romeo NRING Quadrifoglio- unmatched by any four door sedan.  Fastest four door sedan to lap the Nürburgring at the time of its introduction.  7 Minutes 32 seconds.

Brought to you by Paul Ziegler, Publisher  of Carcamerastory.com and author of "Echoes From The Glen"        Follow him @wownowpics                                                                                                                                        












Saturday, September 14, 2019

Blancpain Challenge To Vintage Grand Prix

From the Blancpain GT World Challenge America/ TC America Championship series at Watkins Glen, to The US Vintage Grand Prix at Watkins Glen to the Oswego Classic, I've just returned to Florida with memories of races still swirling in my head.  I had three weeks of incredibly refreshing, cool weather in Upstate New York to accompany three exciting racing events. It can't get better that that.

This blog is an overview in pictures of these events- way too many racing stats and details to include here but the pictures speak for themselves.  Every race way a joy and a pleasure to be at, with the highlight for me being the Coffee & Donuts with Watkins Glen track president, Michael Printup on Saturday, the 7th. I got to talk with many fans at this gathering in the infield that have been attending races at the Glen for decades. I met some interesting people with lots of stories and it's a nice touch to have Michael Printup there to greet fans. One of the folks I met while having coffee was automotive artist, Harold Zabady. Check out his paintings at www.HZabady.com.  Very cool work!

I also held a drawing to give away my new book "Echoes From The Glen".  A little thank you from me back to WGI International for all the years of  top notch racing events they provide for us fans and for all the free coffee and donuts I've enjoyed.

As a bonus I picked up my new, 2019 Alfa Romeo NRING on Saturday, September 7th after the races. It arrived via transporter from San Diego in time to drive it back to Florida on Tuesday, the 10th. It was a sign of good luck because my car bearing the famous Alfa Romeo cloverleaf is #7 of the 55 Alfa produced of this special edition, and I picked it up on the 7th. ( I'll do my next post on the arrival and delivery of the car)

Starting with the Blancpain GT World Challenge America/ TC America Championship - I hope you like the photos:








And then the next day, Sunday, September 1st it was off to Oswego, NY with friend Jeff Washburn:

Totally different world of racing on a short track oval!













And Finally, The US Vintage Grand Prix weekend starting September 6th:
The Trans Am is always exciting - Fire breathing monsters and then as shown in the next few shots banging and rubbing door handles. How there wasn't a NASCAR type pileup??? They kept going!


 



And then there's all the older cars- mind blowing numbers of different cars!












And the MG's/ Triumphs can get feisty too!

This just scratches the surface of all that I saw,  hope you enjoyed the pictures and keep checking back for more posts in the near future. And if you would like to see what racing was like at the Glen 40-50 years ago, check out my book "Echoes From The Glen".

Brought to you by Paul Ziegler, Publisher www.carcamerastorycom and author of
"Echoes From The Glen"    You can also follow me on Instagram   @wownowpics

Friday, August 16, 2019

Alfa Romeo NRING - What Is It?

This is a test.  What is an NRING?  Why does this license plate that say NRING?  It must belong to a car of some kind.  The word is NRING's are arriving on our shores. The announcement came at the recent New York Auto Show and caught many an Alfisti off guard.

It turns out that it's the Nürburgring Edition of  Alfa Romeo's Quadrifoglio, celebrating Alfa's achievement of producing the fastest 4 door sedan and the fastest SUV to lap the Nürburgring circuit.  There are only a total of 110 NRING cars for all of the US market. Just 55 Giulias and 55 Stelvios in all!

 For a car that is bad ass, the NRING is then the king of badassnes, at least the way it looks.  In Circuito Grey matte paint, the car is stunning. You will see more on this blog next month, I promise, but for now here's a sample of what's coming according to a good source.  Read on below:



Reports from my source said an NRING Quad landed at the Port of San Diego on Monday, with its final destination at an East Coast dealer. The plan is to have my source video the delivery as the car comes off the transporter so I can share it with you; and if I can, I'll get my own still photos of the car and a test drive report for this blog. But for now here's some Alfa Romeo USA photos to give you an idea of what it looks like. I've also included a short video for you as well.



Ultra Rare NRING Quadrifoglios


And for a sneak preview by video:

NRING's Are Coming To The USA


I knew since April we would see these cars in the USA so I got excited last Sunday as I was driving by ST. Petersburg Maserati-Alfa Romeo when I saw a silver grey Alfa.  After getting out of my car and walking up to it, I knew right away it wasn't one.  But I'll post my picture of the car below- very nice, but not the one.  I can't wait to show you the real NRING.    Coming soon!

I'm heading up to Watkins Glen International for the US Vintage Grand Prix for some great action shots for you. Watch for those photos as well.  Be back to you all soon!


Giuli Ti Sport at ST. Petersburg Maserati - Alfa Romeo



Brought to you by Paul Ziegler, Publisher Carcamerastory.com
and author of "Echoes From The Glen"

@wownowpics on Instagram



















Sunday, July 7, 2019

Sahlen's Six Hours Of The Glen



                                            Welcome To Watkins Glen International


A perfect weekend, a perfect race! That's the summary of my experience June 28-30 at Watkins Glen. The weather for the most part cooperated and the race result was historic in that the Mazda's finished one, two.
But I'm getting ahead of myself as there was really great racing in the Michelin Pilot Challenge, GT3 Cup and the Lamborghini Super Trofeo.  I have a special interest in the Michelin Pilot Challenge because Alfa Romeo is running two Giuliettas in that series and I drive an Alfa Romeo Giulia. On another blog post I will tell the story of the Alfa Romeo Team's moments of success and their challenges over the weekend.  The end result was the #5 Alfa placed 6th and the #3 placed 11th. This is not representative of both cars speed on the track. They certainly had the pace to keep up and even lead the field.  But luck was not with them.

To start the weekend off, I drove the 75 miles to the track from Mendon, NY on a beautiful June morning arriving at 7:30 AM in time to take my usual walk through the paddock and midway area.  I was impressed with the new paved roads in the infield and the new turn 10 viewing area. WGI is continually upgrading the facility and it is a world class track from a fan perspective, comparing it to Daytona, the gold standard of tracks.

After my brief walk around, the roar of Michelin Pilot Challenge cars filled the air as I headed out with the camera. I had to get pictures of the Alfa Romeo boys to share with  Florida Alfa Club members back home.


                                                   No, This is not the way it is today

Watkins Glen is no longer the rowdy, dusty and muddy venue where rag tag race fans came in the '70's to outdo each other's antics in the 'Bog', but I had to snap one shot shown above representing that past at my first stop at turn 9.  (Turn 9 is an iconic photo spot, about as good as you will find anywhere on a road course)  You will see in the pictures here the beautiful backgrounds a photographer can achieve by moving a short distance along the fence line, capturing wooded backdrops to large elevation changes.  So here's a taste:


Alfa Romeo leading the way.

And from Grand Sport class - BMW and Mercedes


Scrapping little Honda Civics were fast.

Alfa Romeo being chased by Audi


Mercedes, Mercedes


Lifting the hind leg? Alfa Romeo glued to the track.


Honda and Audi again.

So you can see from the above- Turn 9 is the place for photos.


Next came qualifying for Porsche GT3 and here's a taste:







And next came practice for the IMSA Weather Tech Championship including DPi, LMP2 and GTLM followed by the GTD class.

Both Mazdas were quick, #77 here finishing 2nd overall and #55 finishing first.










So to conclude, Friday was a busy day with perfect weather- however Saturday brought rain and some dramatic photos. Here's a  sample:







Konica Minolta Cadillac chasing the Team Joest Mazda



And Sunday, race day brought overcast, cool weather mixed with sun for a comfortable setting for the race. And an exciting race it was with the Penske team #6 car and Juan Pablo Montoya leading the #55 and #77 Mazdas with an hour left to go. In the end it was finally the two Mazdas winning with a one, two finish.  The #55 first and the #77 second. An historic win for Mazda Team Joest! 


Here's a few pictures from the race:







The race winner, Mazda #55!






Mazdas finished first and second after overtaking the Penske Acura shown above driven by Juan Pablo Montoya


Trying to get by Montoya, the #55 and the #77 Mazda eventually pass the #6 Montoya driving the Penske Acura for the dramatic first win by Mazda Team Joest.

Hope you liked the pictures. There's more to come in future posts. I know I enjoyed the entire weekend  at such a beautiful and historic race track.

Brought to you by Paul Ziegler, Publisher 
www.carcamerastory.com and author of "Echoes From The Glen"
Follow on Instagram @wownowpics