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Jean Phillipe-Imparato says keen drivers don't need weather forecasts and massive touchscreens

Alfa Romeo will deploy parent firm Stellantis’s new electronic architecture on its new Giulia in 2025, but boss Jean-Philippe Imparato has confirmed that this won’t lead to a wholesale reinvention of the brand’s interior design philosophy, nor a battle with the Germans on in-car tech. 

“I respect what Mercedes is doing with its digital technology, of course,” he told Autocar, “but my customers aren’t looking for metre-wide infotainment screens in their cars or 200 digital assistance systems to switch on and off. 

“We’re developing our technology, and you will see what we’re working on in 2025, when Alfa Romeo becomes the first to deploy the Stellantis group’s all-new electronic architecture, STLA Brain. But it won’t change how our cars speak or appeal to our customers. We must continue to play to our strengths.”

Alfa Romeo’s customer research suggests that its buyers want an evocative cannocchiale (telescopic) double-cowled instrument panel in their cars and an infotainment system that gives them driver-specific information about their car’s condition but doesn’t bamboozle them with unnecessary information.

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“We will have the cannocchiale, for sure,” said Imparato, “and we will have a larger central display than we do currently, depending on the car. 

“I also like the idea of a larger head-up display with a ‘ghost car’ projected as if on the road ahead, to help you position the car as you drive. 

“This feels like something an Alfa should do. It’s helping you to drive the car and keeping you engaged in the process.

“What I don’t need is to know the weather for three weeks’ time. I don’t care – I’m here to drive.” 

As regards autonomous driving technology, future Alfas will come with separate driving modes that Imparato describes as “I want to drive” and “I want to be driven” and will oblige drivers to choose between the two at the start of every journey, ensuring there’s no confusion between semi-autonomous operation and full human control. 

“But it’s important we know what systems will add value, and which we should exclude,” pointed out Imparato. 

“Our job isn’t to offer every lane-keeping, convenience and crash-avoidance system that we can, just because our competitors have them. We must be selective.”

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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Tonrichard 20 July 2023

He's right and he is not just speaking for Alfa drivers. All the emotion is being removed from cars. I accept the drive train compromises that come with the switch to EVs (as there are compensating benefits) but I don't want to sit in a vehicle with no tactile surfaces, buttons, switches and dials or in one that doesn't give me a warm feeling. There is a good future for Alfa if they can differentiate themselves from all the Tesla clones. 

LP in Brighton 20 July 2023

Good philosophy, but having bespoke instruments must add to costs - and unfortunately people don't buy cars because of their buttons and dials. How about some decent new models?

405line 19 July 2023

I like it, I like it a lot.