New saloon to spearhead Alfa Romeo relaunch; production likely in US and China with 4WD offered as an option

Alfa Romeo’s new Giulia saloon is just months away from being frozen into its final form and committed to production for a 2014 launch. The new BMW 3-series rival is evidence that Fiat Group boss Sergio Marchionne remains determined to revive the ailing brand.

The Giulia will be the first all-new mainstream model launched under Alfa’s revival plan. The saloon, plus the mid-engined 4C sports car (due on sale in early 2014) and the reborn Spider (2015), are intended to put Alfa Romeo firmly back in contention as a viable global premium brand.

The front-drive Giulia (the name is used internally but is not final) will arrive as a saloon first and then a Sportwagon.

Prices are expected to kick off at around £22,000 for the entry-level 120bhp 1.4-litre MultiAir version. In addition to this familiar unit, the Giulia will be powered by a series of new turbocharged petrol engines exclusive to the Alfa brand, including an updated version of the highly regarded 1750 TBi unit used in the defunct 159 and Brera, as well as Fiat’s own diesel powertrains.

Marchionne recently revealed that, in future, Alfa will benefit from a range of engines that are not shared with Fiat-branded cars. However, with Fiat seemingly shrinking back to a core range of Panda and 500-series vehicles, any future clash between them is unlikely.

The Giulia will also use a new MultiAir version of Chrysler’s latest Pentastar petrol V6, though this engine may not make it to Europe. Four-wheel drive will be an option on the Giulia, and is particularly important if Alfa is to successfully relaunch itself in North America.

The new car will aim to compete with the Audi A4 and BMW 3-series in Europe’s compact executive sector. This market is still very healthy, in stark contrast to the mainstream European D-sector market, dominated by cars such as the Ford Mondeo, which is shrinking fast.

The key to the Giulia being taken seriously in established premium company is an updated version of the sophisticated ‘Compact’ platform that underpins the Giulietta. Fiat says 90 per cent of the platform is made up of ‘high-strength’ materials, featuring such technical niceties as a cast aluminium ‘shear plate’ to brace the front chassis legs, greatly improving rigidity for better steering and suspension control.

The Giulia’s underpinnings are the third iteration of this architecture. The second-generation Compact platform, which is wider than the Giulietta platform, currently underpins the Dodge Dart and the Chinese-market Fiat Viaggio. The Giulia gets a further update of the Dart platform, with a longer wheelbase and a rumoured complete upgrade of the independent rear suspension.

The car’s final look — which has been agonised over by Fiat Group bosses — is expected to be finalised this autumn, when the production process is set to begin. A thinly disguised version of the final car is expected to be unveiled in the middle of next year.

The new Alfa could be made alongside the Dodge Dart at Chrysler’s plant in Belvidere, Illinois. Officially, Fiat says this is possible, but no decision has been made.

In truth, building the Giulia in the US will give a huge boost to the chances of a successful relaunch of Alfa there after the brand pulled out of North America in 1995.

Building the Giulia in Europe then shipping it to the US would undermine profitability, and greater economies of scale can be achieved by building the car alongside its Dodge cousin.

The Giulia is also likely to spearhead the introduction of Alfa to the Chinese market, with local production alongside the Viaggio (the Chinese version of the Dodge Dart) a racing certainty.

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Comments
19

9 August 2012

If this car looks anything like the accompanying picture, then it will surely sell irrespective of the fact that it is front wheel drive and powered (in some versions at least) by a Chrysler-built V6.

Let's hope that it drives as good as it looks!  

9 August 2012

If this teaser picture IS close to the production version (and the car lives up to the 'Alfa Romeo' name), then the Fiat Group will have another winner!!

9 August 2012

Me like +++

9 August 2012

Looks good, just what Alfa needs is another big saloon and a coupe.

However 2014 is 2 years away!

I still wouldn't describe Alfa saloons in the same breath as 3 series though. The 156/159 have been attractive cars for real petrolheads, 3 serieses tend to be status box company cars for middle management.

10 August 2012

Sorry sirwiggum but I think Alfa 156/159's were bought either by petrolistas hoping Alfa had rediscovered their magic, or by those seduced by their styling which I would agree was great.

However based upon all contemporary reports the Alfa could not get close to a 3 series dynamically - even an Italian colleague of mine with a 147 JTD agreed it was no match for my 320Td Compact (but he got a good deal as his father worked for Alfa in Milan).

Having enjoyed 2 1970's Fiats with twin-cam engines I so wanted to find an Alfa that could rekindle the Italian magic, but at the end of the day they need an RWD platform if they are ever to compete with a 3 Series; anyway I replaced the 320Td with another BMW, but a 1 Series this time.

 

9 August 2012

Well if the tie up with Lancia and Chysler is anything to go on, I expect this to fail, if its engineered and built to American tastes and standards it will not be good enough for good European sales, look at Fords current range, they may be selling well but the Focus is a bit naff and doesnt hadle as well as it should, the interior of the Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo are full of nasty hard plastics, and the exterior styling is a bit too generic with other vehicles in the same sectors.

American and European tastes IMO are too disimilar to make a car to American tastes and expect it to appeal here, the correct way, is as the Germans do, build a car to European quality and standards and sell it to Americans, BWM and Mercedes found this out to their cost.

9 August 2012

I really do like the look of this. Reminds me of my younger days with the Montreal and I havent had another Alfa since. I think it is spot on for the European market and in FWD format it is "common" and acceptable. In 4WD it will sell in the old Russian markets of Belarus/Russia etc where the snow piles high. If they can keep the price in line and undercut their rivals by a fair margin, then they will surely have found the gold seam they need. However, I dont believe it will sell stateside no matter which moniker they slap on it. Its too pretty and too small for the other side of the pond. China would lap it up, but again only if the price is right.

what's life without imagination

jer

9 August 2012

...it can work in both markets : sold at a price in the USA and as good as a German in Europe with all this entails - dynamics, economy, interior perceived quality. Being front wheel drive it's impossible for it to drive as well as the rwd competitors. If the chassis is setup in the US even with a Europe spec it won't cut it in this magazine.

9 August 2012

If it looks anything like this, then I hope it signals the end of Alfa's obsession with the 8C type frontal styling. A good move in my opinion.

9 August 2012

..but will it be the same old story.  Wasn't every previous saloon such as the 159,156 supposed to compete with the 3 series/A4?  In my opinion it never really did.  I do love the unique issue's that owners of Alfa's have had over the years.  Made me chuckle a number of times.

In a way I don't want them to succeed it wouldn't be Alfa.  You need a car brand with comedy problems, but killer looks. 

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