Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Bburago 1:43 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia and Mondo Motors 1:43 Fiat Strada pickup
Fiat owns Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, and Chrysler under one roof, and some of these models have made their way into the United States. One long overdue one is the return of Alfa Romeo withthe Giulia sedan and soon the Stelivo SUV. Sure the 8C and 4C were here first, but the former was a limited edition sold at Maserati dealerships while the latter is only a sports car that is not practical for most people. On the other side is Fiat that has entered the U.S. with the 500 compact cars but also offers the Ram ProMaster trucks, yet there is more to the Fiat brand outside of the U.S. One vehicle that is offered in Mexico under the Ram brand and is debatable on if it will ever come to the U.S. is the Strada pickup.
Bburago 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia
The long-awaited Alfa Romeo to return to the U.S. with proper rear-wheel drive layout is the Giulia. The styling is striking, menacing, and still holds true to the Alfa Romeo heritage, including the shield grille. Unlike most recent Alfa's where the 8C's round headlights have trouble confining with safety regulations up front the slender headlights of the Giulia looks best. This is the first rear-drive Alfa since the 75 sedan and uses a multi-link suspesion on all four wheels, 50/50 weight distribution, and lots of power from fewer cylinders. The Giulia can be had with turbo I-4 or twin-turbo V6 with either an eight-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission. The 2.9L DOHC twin-turbo V6 produces 503 horsepower in Quadrifoglio models to the 2.4L DOHC turbo I-4 that produces 276 horsepower. The interior has a sleek design that is geared more toward driving just like recent Mazda products. Even if sedans are not big sellers and space is a bit cramped in the Giulia the Stelievo SUV on which its based will pay back the cost of the platform.
I was excited that Bburago was coming out with this Giulia first, but then was disappointed that they went for the standard models over the Quadrifoglio version, so I passed on the 1:24 and instead went for the 1:43 Street Fire version in that same metallic red color. The 5-spoke wheels here give the car the look of the higher-end Giulia while still retaining that sleek styling. The front has sleek headlights where the support tab is placed in the center looking rather odd so I added a black dot where the projector beam lens should go to improve the look. The V-shaped shield grille has the Alfa logo and is joined by two side scoops. The side profile is mostly clean and looks great on the wheels even if they feel cheap and lack rubber tires. The detailed black trim around the windows are a nice touch. The rear has taillights that look like the 2013 Kia Optima's units, Alfa badging, and dual exhausts. As mentioned before newer vehicles have lots of undercarriage covering so there's not much to see underneath aside from the rear suspension and exhaust system. On the 1:24 the engine is obstructed by lots of plastic covering.
Inside the interior is an inviting area for anyone tired of self-driving cars. The 3-spoke steering wheel has a starter button to the left of the bottom spoke, the gauges have dual speedo and tach with a digital info display in the center, and the dashboard has fewer buttons for the HVAC controls with the center infortainment screen controlled by a knob just below the shifter. That shifter on the 1:24 is the six-speed manual unit by the way. The front seats are supportive and have a bit of bolstering for that true sports car look. The rear seat is a bit cramped, yet average for this size class. It's great to finally have a replica of the new 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia, now just hoping for a Quadrifoglio version to come up soon.
Mondo Motors Fiat Strada pickup
Here's a vehicle not sold in the U.S. by a diecast manufacturer not sold here as well. Mondo Motors is a company that makes 1:43 scale vehicles that lack the pullback's crude motor and details even if it's not the high-end polish of other 1:43 collectible brands. Having this Strada pickup is a nice touch. The Strada is just one of the many car-based pickups that still serve in other countries while the U.S. prefers bigger pickup trucks over car-based ones since the 1980's. The Strada was once considered for the U.S. as the Dodge Dakota replacement, but questions about loyalty, sales demographic, and mid-size pickups before the 2015 Colorado panned that idea. On the other side of the border in Mexico it is sold as part of the Ram brands as the 700 with a Ram-like front-end styling. Based on the Fiat Palio and Siena the Strada was introduced in 1997 and this current bodystyle was introduced in 2009 with a 2013 refresh. Inspiration from the Fiat Grande Punto was used for the 2009 restyle with more aggressive lower body cladding on a car-based unibody platform with either regular or extended cab, the latter does not have opening rear doors instead using a side access door behind the front passenger door. The cab was larger and the bed area very deep to the point that the tailgate can be dropped almost flat with the ground. The interior is basic and plasticky due to its work truck nature. The engine is a 1.8L DOHC I-4 that produces 110 horsepower through a 5-speed manual transmission. Despite the rugged look of the Adventure model it does not have four-wheel drive though it does have a locking front differential.
Painted in either red (shown) or orange the Strada looks good for a car-based pickup. The front has round quad headlights between a grille with the Fiat logo in red. The lower black bumper has integrated round signal and foglights and a lower silver skid plate. The sides show a cab that is large and on this rugged Adventure model lots of ground clearance with a raked rear end. The rugged black trim carries around to the fender flares with visible bolts. Now the roof rails join the rear of the cab as a body support and also feature silver grab handles, while the center brake light is a long clear piece across the supports. At the rear are round taillights similar to the Fiat 500L with a rugged lower bumper that has integrated steps and the Adventure name stamped to the tailgate. The bed area is nice and deep, ready for cargo without being shortened by a pullback motor. The underside shows mostly the engine and transmission on the front subframe and the exhaust system, and the rear axle is a beam unit with leaf springs to handle the load in the bed. The multi-spoke wheels are nice but the plastic tires seem low rent (most pullback companies now offer rubber tires so why not here?)
Inside the interior has seating for four with five in a pinch. Access to the rear seat is by an access door on the right-side where the front passenger door must be opened first. The interior is a sea of black plastic with a dashboard typical of 1990's car products. It does have a nice auxiliary gauge package on top of the center dashboard for the Adventure models. It may not be an impressive casting to be called a premium collectible, but at least the Fiat Strada pickup is one unique niche that Mondo Motors is glad to have hold of.