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Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce: this is how electric works

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09.07.2024 13:00

After the Junior's bumpy start in terms of name, Alfa Romeo is now really giving it its all - and spontaneously adding 40 hp to the Junior Veloce. That makes 280 hp. Power? Yes, power. "Krone" motoring editor Stephan Schätzl has driven the electric sports car, even before homologation. His impressions here in the video.

Whether Milano or Junior, the main thing is Alfa Romeo, you could say. And you could say: it's about time that Alfa Romeo finally brought something back onto the market that really knocks your socks off. The Italians are under pressure to keep the brand's fans happy. Can they succeed with a small car? It's hard to believe after the MiTo didn't really find much favor back then.

(Bild: Stephan Schätzl)

So now the Junior. It comes as a mild hybrid with 136 hp and as a well-behaved electric model with 156 hp. With technology from the parent company Stellantis, which is also familiar from the Opel Corsa & Co. But a Veloce version was also announced straight away, with 240 electric hp. but then the change of heart. "All Veloce versions have 280 hp, so the Junior must also achieve this," says Product Manager Mario Lamagna on the evening before the test drives at dinner in the Alfa Romeo Museum in Arese (he is referring to the Giulia and Stelvio petrol engines and the Tonale plug-in hybrid). This shows how serious the gentlemen are.

"The dynamic qualities of the new Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce are the responsibility of the same team of engineers who previously developed the Alfa Romeo sports car models 4C, 8C, Giulia GTA, 33 Stradale, Giulia Quadrifoglio and Stelvio Quadrifoglio," the press documents boast. And it should soon become clear that every single one of them can be proud of it.

Test day in Balocco
In the morning on the Pista di prova in Balocco, for which Alfa Romeo laid the foundation stone 63 years ago. Today it covers an area of around six square kilometers with more than 80 kilometers of roads and paths of varying quality. They have opened up a 20-kilometer stretch for us that offers just about everything you could possibly encounter. The so-called Circuito Langhe. It is raining.

(Bild: Stephan Schätzl)

And that's a good thing. Because before it opens up and the asphalt dries, I can see how playfully the Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce can be driven on slippery surfaces. Even though 280 hp and 345 Nm are thrown at the front wheels. Torsen limited slip differential on the front axle! Yes! You get real power on the ground and you can feel the narrow ridge in bends, on which you have just enough grip to avoid ending up in the crash barrier. It would be a shame to lose the beautiful bodywork. Even if a chrome scudetto would look better on the front than this deliberately youthful thing in the middle. Alfa wants to be young, the average buyer is now supposed to be 35 years old, not 55.

Even when the sun comes out, there's not a dry eye in the house. The Junior Veloce - lowered by 25 mm - presses itself onto the tarmac and pulls through bends like a pure sports car. The test car weighs 1590 kilograms without the driver, with the optional Sabelt bucket seats, 20-inch wheels, etc. Without optional extras, it weighs just 1485 kg according to the data sheet. Even at just under 1.6 tons, it feels light. Light on its feet. Steers precisely. Direct, with a steering ratio of 14.6:1, but what does that mean? Direct steering without feel would be stressful. But here in the Junior Veloce there is plenty of feel. This is where you start to feel the directness, where you intuitively take the apex of the bend and feel exactly what's happening, where it's going long and what's going short.

(Bild: Stephan Schätzl)
(Bild: Stephan Schätzl)
(Bild: Stephan Schätzl)
(Bild: Stephan Schätzl)
(Bild: Stephan Schätzl)
(Bild: Stephan Schätzl)

The suspension is not even particularly hard, but offers real comfort. In other words, both comfort and sportiness. This is due to the shock absorbers, which have two hydraulic end stops each as standard. For compression and rebound. We know this from Citroen, but not in such a sporty version. Or from the Renault Megane R.S., but only for compression.

Special feature in the braking system
The brakes are also first class. Front discs measuring 382x32 mm, with four-piston monobloc brake callipers, internally ventilated. When you step on the brake pedal, recuperation takes place before the discs are used. The transition works well. Unusual: this mixed function is deactivated in Sport mode, in which case the brakes are only applied in classic mode. Incidentally, Alfa Romeo specifies a braking distance of 35 meters from 100 km/h.

The other way round, it takes 5.9 seconds from a standstill. They say it runs at over 200 km/h. They state a range of 410 kilometers, which they get from the 51 kWh net battery. Charging is not as fast as driving, 20 to 80 percent takes 27 minutes. Oh well.

Speaking of charging. The trunk can hold 400 to 1265 liters, and the double floor can be easily fixed in three positions. There is space for the charging cable in a mini-frunk under the front hood. The Sabelt seats in the rear are rather cramped - they are very bulky. You have to set priorities. But the Junior is only 4.17 meters long and 1.78 meters narrow, with a wheelbase of 2.56 meters.

(Bild: Stephan Schätzl)
(Bild: Stephan Schätzl)
(Bild: Stephan Schätzl)
(Bild: Stephan Schätzl)
(Bild: Stephan Schätzl)
(Bild: Stephan Schätzl)
(Bild: Stephan Schätzl)
(Bild: Stephan Schätzl)

There's enough space at the front. And it's nice enough too. With Alcantara. And a wonderful design. Integrated central display. Typical Alfa Romeo tubes behind the steering wheel, with digital instruments. And the navigation system can also set charging stop routes, whereby you can set the desired charge level at the next point (unfortunately, no distinction is made between charging stop and destination).

The prices
The Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce is priced from 48,990 euros. A good 6000 euros are added for extras, from the magnificent Rosso Brera to the technology package with LED matrix headlights, navigation system, parking sensors and the sports package including fork seats and the glass roof.

The well-behaved base model is available from 29,900 euros, the mild hybrid petrol engine from 29,000 euros.

Driving citation
It is a clever move to give journalists only the top model for the junior first contact - even though it is not even homologated, i.e. not allowed to drive on public roads. In contrast to the standard versions. Especially when you know that it really is a success. Because it is. This is what makes electric mobility fun. And this is how Alfa Romeo makes it fun. The Junior Veloce is a real Alfa Romeo. And it doesn't need a combustion engine to generate emotions. I would even go so far as to say that it is the electric successor to the legendary Alfasud. It was the most successful Alfa Romeo of all time. And probably the rustiest. The Junior could build on the former.

Why?
Because the Veloce is really good and really fast
Because it brings Alfa Romeo into the present day

Why not?
56,000 euros is a lot of money for such a small car.

Or maybe ...
... VW ID.3 GTX, Cupra Born - or a more well-behaved junior version?

This article has been automatically translated,
read the original article here.

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