YOU’VE GOT TO HAND IT TO ALFA! IN A home market that sells less than two per cent of cars with an automatic gearbox, its sporting 156 and 166 saloons offer no less than three different “dual mode” transmissions. Alfa is determined, it seems, to convinceenthusiaststhattheycanhavetheircakeandeatit . The 166’s Sportronic is a normal torque converter automatic with a manual, sequential-shift override alongside. Then there’s Q-system – another conventional four-speed automatic, this time with a manual H-pattern gate offset to one side of the D. Last, but by no means least, Selespeed is effectively a regular five-speed manual, but without the clutch pedal. It not only offers self-shifting gears to ease the burden in suburban snarl-ups, but ices the cake for boy-racers with Formula One-style, thumb-operated gearshift buttons on the steering wheel. So now we can all play at being Michael Schumacher .