It is probably the single most important car in the history of the storied Italian marque and without doubt the gorgeous new Alfa Romeo Giulia will play a significant part in defining the brand as it faces an uncertain future.
With many questions being asked about the viability of Alfa right now, the company really does need its new premium saloon contender to be a winner.
It certainly appears to have the winning combination of to-die-for looks and sensational engines, but it remains to be seen if it can resurrect Alfa’s struggling fortunes.
Unveiled to the international media on the 105th anniversary of the founding of Alfa (Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili) at a special event last week in the newly-refurbished Alfa Romeo Museum in Arese, the car will sadly not arrive in Ireland until the tail-end of next year, effectively making it a ‘171’ reg plate.
As this is the case, there has been no talk yet as to pricing. But what of the new car? Well Alfa tells us it was developed and designed by a ‘Skunkworks’ of the best engineers, designers, and stylists within parent company FCA — Fiat Chrysler Auto.
A Skunkworks is a group of people drawn together with the specific aim of working outside the traditional methodologies of any specific company. They are not constrained by regular day-to-day politics and have total autonomy.
In this case, the group of engineers and designers Alfa assembled have come up with a car which, the company maintains, embodies the core elements which have made Alfa Romeo one of the world’s best-loved automotive brands — distinctive Italian design, innovative powertrains, perfect weight distribution, unique technical solutions and the best weight-to-power ratio.
Although we have not yet seen the Giulia in the flesh, the pictures certainly show a car which looks the part and Alfa says the taut and compact proportions of the car have evolved from its all-new, rear-wheel drive architecture (all-wheel drive will also be available).
With the engine and major mechanical components arranged between the axles to ensure perfect 50/50 weight distribution, the Giulia has very short overhangs, a long bonnet and muscular haunches, while the wheelbase is longest in its segment to maximise stability, comfort and practicality. In short, it is very ‘Alfa.’
So too is the interior. The design is said to be crisp and fuss-free and, as every with Alfa, centred around the driver, with the main controls grouped together on the small steering wheel in a similar fashion to a Formula 1 car, while the human- machine interface consists of two simple, user-friendly knobs for adjusting the Alfa DNA selector and the infotainment system.
Premium materials — including carbon fibre and real wood, are chosen for their visual and tactile pleasantness and assembled in such a way to make the human touch visible.
All very good, Alfa fans will agree, but what’s under the hood? Well we are promised a range of state-of-the-art engines with a bespoke unit created for the top-of-the-range Quadrifoglio version.
This flagship V6 turbo petrol powerplant will deliver an impressive 510 bhp, propelling the Giulia Quadrifoglio from 0 to 100 kph in just 3.9 seconds, while also offering surprising fuel efficiency thanks to electronically-controlled cylinder deactivation system. As with all next- generation petrol and diesel engines, this six-cylinder unit is made entirely of lightweight aluminium and will boast a very traditional Alfa ‘bark.’
However, the rest of the engine line-up is still something of a mystery and Alfa are playing it a bit coy right now. All we know is there will be two four cylinder petrol units and four and six cylinder diesels. On the suspension front there will be a new sophisticated ‘Alfalink’ multilink solution which has been chosen for the rear axle, while the front suspension employs a new, double-wishbone set up.
A double clutch Torque Vectoring system will also be unveiled to allow the rear differential to control the torque delivery to each wheel independently, improving traction in low grip conditions without having to run up against an invasive stability control system.
An Integrated Brake System is also being introduced on th Giulia — an innovative electromechanical system which combines stability control and a traditional servo brake for instantaneous brake response and record- breaking stopping distances.
The Giulia certainly seems to have all the necessary elements to make a breakthrough for Alfa. So for those of us who think that would be a good thing, then let us just pray that’s the case.
We wait in hope.