Masterclass hammering a car around FIAT Mirafiori
Luciano led us to the car. A brand new Alfa Romeo Mito Cloverleaf. Low profile tyres, sports suspension, snazzy paint job, 170bhp.
We climbed into the car and headed for the famous Mirafiori test track. Famous because Fiat often used it in their advertising - or at least for the Fiat Strada. The track is 3km long and is like a huge rubber band - parabolica at each end and two huge bumps along the straights.
Luciano is 65 and one of Fiat's top drivers. He drove the famous Cisital car (now in the Turin motor museum) from China to Paris in the 1980s. A 14 million Euro car through Mongolia, mud and mayhem. But surely now he'd slowed down - he's retired, a pensioner.
We hit the track at full speed, tyres squealing for mercy and spitting gravel as we hit the curves at colossal speeds. He was demonstrating the brilliant traction control system (DNA) that would not let the car slide even though every sound was telling us it was going to spin and crash at any moment.
Next it was my turn. He just told us before we got in the car that we were to keep below 110 but I think he saw we were experienced drivers so speeds were creeping up to 150. After the first lap he was explaining that there was no need for corrective steering on the parabolica, just use the throttle. Brand new car, track I'd never driven on and he was telling me to put the throttle to the floor on tight bends. Bliss!!!
After about 8 laps my friend Andrea took the driver's seat. He's the original Captain Slow. I once lent him my car and was stunned when he gave it back with the fuel computer reading that he'd got 4lt/100km. I never knew it was possible.. But today he was about to shed that reputation and do to the Alfa what Alfas are built to do - receive a good thrashing.
Luciano took us for a couple of more laps - to show us the acceleration.. He's an amazing driver and we really appreciated his masterclass in hammering a car around Mirafiori. We couldn't have done too badly as he invited us back next month so we can improve some more.