Ok, a bit of an aside but I recently bought an Alfa Romeo Brera. Now, given my last Alfa Romeo needed 2 new gearboxes, 7 separate fixes to the air conditioning system, new brake pipes, and many other bits, this decision can only be regarded as the head being severely over-ruled by the heart. And by over-ruled I mean put into a locked safe, secured with chains and dumped over-board in a really deep part of the Atlantic.
For any Alfa owner, the scariest ownership prospect (even above electrics) is that of the dealer network. Dear lord, it is a frightening threat to hang over any owner .. “the car needs fixing and only an Alfa dealer has the bits”. [shiver]. But, and this is a huge great, gilded but, I just had one of the best dealer experiences period. Not only were the staff polite, they bothered to listen to my needs, provided a decent loan car and .. shock .. fixed all faults I mentioned. Well, all but 2 that needed new parts. And all under warranty (even changing gearbox oil).
Now, historically, even the prospect of obtaining new parts from Alfa was enough to send you scurrying to a scrap yard for the bits. But, no, they arrived promptly over the Xmas period and are ready for fitting.
Can this really be the revival of Alfa Romeo? Few can doubt the cars are simply gorgeous but dealers were always the Achilles heel of the brand.
During 2006, the UK operation mowed down badly performing dealers like so much dead wheat and began insisting that customers experienced real service levels previously (and only theoretically) enjoyed by premium German or Japanese brands. Speaking to affected dealers, it is clear the demands are stringent and obligatory. By cutting so severely into the network, Alfa might be able to convince punters they are serious. Sadly, this means that many parts of the country are currently bereft of a local dealer – no manner how dreadful. But, give it a year and the promise is for a doubling in the network – what great news for one of the all time classic marques in motoring.
Oh … and I just adore the Brera!