It's become de rigueur to declare driving dead. If we are headed for autonomous transport, ask the pundits, why bother having fun behind the wheel? Just clamber into your soulless people hauler, select "Stultifying Ambient Tedium" on your Pandora playlist, and tune out.
At Motor Trend, dear reader, we are not ready to give up the fight even if the morning commute is more slog than slalom, more torture than torque. We contend that a schlep through shoreline traffic should not extinguish individuality.
Driving great distances because you can is a deep-rooted American tradition. It is the declaration of independence of the industrial revolution. It is our automotive destiny. We embrace the decreasing-radius corner, the back road's unexpected undulation, the hairpin with a dusting of gravel at the apex.
At a time when the formulaic commoditization of cars is not only expected but also a standard feature, we rebel. We are not ready to relegate our cars to the status quo of an A-to-B anachronism of conveyance. We believe in the necessity of passion and finding your heart's desire. There is still time-time to instill joy, lust, rivalry, and good cheer.
For those who won't settle for ubiquity, we present the 2018 Motor Trend Car of the Year: the Alfa Romeo Giulia.
No less a luminary than Henry Ford, the inventor of the mass-production automobile, once said: "When I see an Alfa Romeo go by, I tip my hat."
Mr. Ford knew there was something special about the car that carries the cross-and-serpent badge, the company where Enzo Ferrari proudly got his start in racing before hanging his own shingle.
Our international bureau chief, Angus MacKenzie, an axle-greased eminence of the auto industry, knows his Alfa history. In his London garage sits a 1967 GTV coupe-a rolling symbol of Alfa Romeo's glory years. "Back in the early '60s, Alfa occupied a niche that BMW later came to own-building fast, charismatic sedans, wagons, and coupes that looked good, weren't stupidly expensive, and, most of all, were utterly delightful to drive," he says. "This new Giulia recaptures the spirit of those 1960s Alfas but in a thoroughly modern manner."
Alfa Romeo's erratic legacy in this country might mean many Americans have limited knowledge of this brand and heritage. Consider the Giulia your introduction.
"There is sorcery in this car," road test editor Chris Walton says. "The Giulia fills the space vacated by BMW. Yet even at the apex of its reign, a 3 Series never rode this well or cornered with such poise and precision simultaneously."
When seeing the strength of the 2018 COTY field, some readers might feel our choice of the Alfa Romeo seems out of left field. The Honda Accord, Kia Stinger, and Tesla Model 3 all make strong plays for top honors (and received individual first-place votes among our judging panel).
But Alfa Romeo is dashing away with the prize-the first time an Italian brand has won COTY or our discontinued Import Car of the Year-and anyone who has been reading Motor Trend this past year shouldn't be surprised.
Earlier this year, the base Giulia beat all comers in our Big Test of 2.0-liter compact luxury sedans-a field that included Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz, among others.
The Quadrifoglio version then eviscerated its rival BMW M3, Cadillac ATS-V, and Mercedes C63 S super sedan entrants in a four-way comparison on streets and at the racetrack.
And in Best Driver's Car against 11 supercars, sports cars, and six-figure grand tourers, the Quadrifoglio (the lone sedan) finished in a respectable sixth.
Each successive time we drove the Giulia, through summer's ripening breath, our enthusiasm grew.
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