Alfa Romeo 4C Noise, Track Reviews, Used Tribeca or CX-9 and Office Space? [Ask Nathan]

2014 buick verano nathan adlen
Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and name will be omitted – leaving your initials or nickname, your preference.

From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.

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Prague to Pebble, Ep. 4.

In this edition of Ask Nathan:

  • Alfa Romeo 4C?
  • Why so many track reviews?
  • Used Subaru Tribeca or Mazda CX-9?
  • Do you guys have a studio?

2015 alfa romeo 4c

This first question comes from a viewer who enjoyed TFLcar’s (rather enthusiastic) first drive of the Alfa Romeo 4C. He’s curious about the interior noise.

… and WHAT a noise it is!

Q:Good afternoon Nathan, I’m a long-time Alfa fan who very much enjoyed your recent review of the 4C. Thank you!!

Your enthusiasm was infectious and inspiring, so much so that tomorrow, in Wellington here in New Zealand, I’ll get a look at an LE example – first 4C to arrive in this country – followed by a test drive the following day.

So – a question for you. Did you find the car overly noisy in the cabin when cruising at say, 70mph?

The several reviews I’ve seen on the net have suggested yes, you can hear what’s going on behind you, but just how intrusive the engine noise actually is on a longish trip trip remains an open question – to me at least. (Clearly my test drive will be shortish on urban roads.) Which leads me to ask for your impression of the steering on uneven surfaces………

Be much obliged if you have the time to respond.

Yours in keen motoring,


Hamilton, NZ

A: Awesome email! I pushed your email to the top of the list as I was just discussing that very issue with an old friend.

Yes, there is a great deal of noise entering the cabin, especially when you’re moving through the gears. Once you pass about 60 mph, the engine note becomes constant (and lovely in my estimation). Induction noise, a heavy exhaust note and engine noise are ever present, but are easily diluted by selecting a normal drive-mode and removing the lead from your right foot.

We drove the Alfa Romeo 4C for a few hours and had a blast, but I do admit to some sonic discomfort by the end of the press event.

I guess, if you keep the windows up and take it easy on the throttle it may help a bit… you know what? No! The Alfa Romeo 4C is begging to be driven hard. It’s not a GT car, it’s a howling sportscar that simply MUST be revved. Try it. Rev the Alfa Romeo 4C, pop it in gear and let it sing to you.

“No, I don’t think I will rev you, although you need revving, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be revved and often, and by someone who knows how.” That’s my first and only partial reference to Rhett Butler.

The Alfa Romeo 4C is not a quiet car by any means. It is a tactile feast that alerts all of your senses that you are having a good time. No, it’s not very quiet at speed – and I think you’ll love it for that. It’s an honest sports car.

Keep us in the loop and tell us what you thought of your test drive!


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This email comes from a viewer who has questions regarding our constantly changing and evolving video reviews.

Q:Why do you guys do so many reviews from the track? I understand why you would be there if you had a sports car or a muscle car. But I see SUVs and mini vans too. I’m just curious.


A: That’s a good question, and – you’re right, we (now) do a lot of track-based reviews. The track we use is IMI Motorsports in Decao, CO and it’s primary purpose is a go kart track. One of the reasons we use this track is because its tight, demanding (perfect for testing steering, brakes, tires and balance); yet, there is a nice back straight (perfect for 0 to 60 mph runs).

We do so many reviews, having a track to get an honest appraisal of the car’s abilities in a concise manner is incredibly important. Remember: we have a camera we have to use to get the car’s review to you. Having a track to shoot, rather than a populated road, is the smart/safe bet.

TFLcar & TFLtruck still do several reviews in unique locations and that will continue.

My final point is: having a track means we can drive like apes. We can push a vehicle well beyond regular adhesion in a safe environment. It’s the smart way to test a majority of the cars we review.

We will continue to make changes to keep things fresh and interesting… who knows what venue we’ll use next!?

By the way, you can use the track too! Yep, for a small fee, you can use the track too!

Hope that helps!


2013 Mazda CX-9 Off-Road Drive and Review
2013 Mazda CX-9 Off-Road Drive and Review

This question comes from a shopper looking for a good, used, three-row crossover.

Q: Greetings from Arkansas!

I spend a lot of time with my wife’s family in Toronto and I want to get a good crossover to replace our overused minivan. There are two that I like and I wondered what you thought about them.

Both are 2013, CPO cars for about $32,000 with good warranties.

I like the Subaru B9 Tribeca and the Mazda CX-9. Which one do you and Roman like? Both of you have families and you live in ski country, so I bet you have a better idea how these things run compared to the Californian reviewers!



A: Thanks for the email! Good question too. Fortunately, Roman and I fully agree that the Mazda CX-9 is a superior vehicle. Don’t get me wrong, the Subaru Tribeca is a safe, capable crossover, but it’s entirely too cramped and not as family-friendly as the Mazda CX-9. Without a question, we would choose the big Mazda.

Now, with that being said, both Mazda and Subaru are either replacing or significantly upgrading these vehicles.

Subaru will replace the Subaru Tribeca; however, we doubt we’ll see anything soon – especially here in the Rocky Mountains… it’s a conundrum. It should be based on the new Subaru Outback platform – we think.

Mazda is planning some serious upgrades with their CX-9. Every model is a good one with the current Mazda CX-9 punching well above its weight. It takes on good vehicles from Ford, Dodge, Toyota, Nissan and General Motors.

Hope that helps!


TFL Talk Emme Roman Nathan

The last question refers to our home base, studio, office or production center. Well, we do have an office…


I just wanted to know, do you guys do your production in a studio? You’re too big to sit at home and cut a video on an iPad. Where are you guys based? I know you’re in Colorado, which is cool. Are you in Denver?


A: Great question! Yep, we are too big to work from home, especially with our video production. We are based in Boulder, CO and TFL has an office that we use for production. We use it often, but you would be surprised as to how much of our production has to be shot, cut and posted from the road.

Take care!


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Nathan Adlen Bio Picture Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. His words, good humor and videos are enjoyed worldwide.