Alfa Romeo is making moves to reinvigorate its brand with a long lineup of entirely new models, all of which are expected for release within the next three years, to take on major offerings from the likes of BMW and Audi.

First up will be the new 2016 Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan, which is slated for unveiling this coming Wednesday in Milan, and will go up against the new 2016 BMW 3 Series. This vehicle is particularly important for Alfa, as the automaker has had less-than-stellar sales records for the last 10 years or so, and the Giulia will be the first volume model since the Giulietta launched in 2011.

Alfa hopes the new Giulia will recreate the success it enjoyed in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when it sold the original Giulia. The original was sold between 1962 and 1978, and had four doors, RWD, a powerful engine and a lightweight body. If everything goes according to plan, the new Giulia will be unveiled on the 105th anniversary of the Alfa brand, at the Alfa Romeo museum, with a public debut slated for the Frankfurt Auto Show in September.

After the new Giulia, Alfa has set its sights on offering its first ever SUV, codenamed project 949. That model will see sales beginning sometime in early 2017, and will take on the likes of the Audi Q5 and BMW X3.

Automotive News Europe also says Alfa has a new flagship in the works in the form of a full-size sedan that will see production beginning mid-2017. Codenamed 961, the larger four-door will replace the discontinued 166 and go up against the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series. 
Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

These three models (the new Giulia, the SUV, and the flagship sedan) will all be built at FCA’s factory in Cassino, Italy, and will contribute to the auto conglomerate’s plan to introduce eight new models in the next few years. The goal is to increase annual sales to 400,000 units by 2018, a rather lofty goal considering Alfa sold less than 70,000 units in 2014. Part of this substantial sales increase will include an expanded presence in North America, where Alfa plans on selling around 150,000 units annually.

However, there’s a good chance Alfa will miss that target. Market research company IHS Automotive is predicting a delivery of just 216,000 vehicles in 2018, with 36,000 Giulias sold in 2016, peaking at just under 50,000 in 2018. IHS Automotive also predicts the new SUV will move less than 10,000 units in its first year, peaking at 23,000 in 2017. Meanwhile, the company thinks the new full-size sedan will peak at 11,000 units in 2018.

The goal is to increase annual sales to 400,000 units by 2018, a rather lofty goal considering Alfa sold less than 70,000 units in 2014.

 

Regardless, production of the new Giulia is currently getting underway in secret at the Cassino plant, with testing of the new 800-million euro retooling investment now proceeding. 

Details on the new SUV and flagship sedan are sparse, but the there is plenty to say about the new Giulia. 

First, it will be built on a new architecture called the Giorgio platform, and will offer both RWD and AWD variants, as well as a slew of different engine choices. Included will be options for a high-performance V-6 from Ferrari/Maserati, with two turbos boosting output to 510 horsepower. The entry-level gas unit will be a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in a variety of tunes, including 180, 250, and 330 horsepower. 

Alfa will also offer a series of diesel powerplants. At the top of the oil burner lineup will be a 3.0-liter V-6 from Jeep/Maserati, modified with a new head and a second turbo to boost output from 275 to 340 horsepower. Other diesel units include a revised 2.2-liter that shares bones with a 2.0-liter unit from FCA , with output expected to be around 210 horsepower, while more economic 135- and 180-horsepower versions will also be available. 

The new Giulia sedan is expected to spawn a wagon version, while it’s possible Alfa could also add coupe and spider variants at a later date. 

Codenamed internally as project 952, the new Giulia has been on the table for several years now, experiencing numerous setbacks and delays before its upcoming unveiling in Italy. The model is slated to succeed the 159, which was discontinued in 2011. Production is set to begin this November, but two supplier sources told Automotive News Europe that there could be further delays that push the launch date back to March, with progress hampered by concerns over the car’s quality, particularly its NVH (noise/vibration/harshness). 

While unfortunate, such delays would not be wholly unexpected. A recent report from Reuters has stated that FCA has delayed the redesign or release of at least 12 current or new vehicles in North America, including such critical models as the Ram 1500 and Jeep Wrangler. The delays contradict a five-year, $50 billion plan put forth in May of last year, which outlined a proposed boost to FCA’s annual sales figures to 7 million units by 2018, up from 4.75 million last year. 

Last-minute design and engineering changes are among the suspected justifications for the delays. However, it’s also quite likely that the models were put on the backburner to defer billions of dollars in investment as FCA boss Sergio Marchionne searched for a new partner for the company.

Some saw the merger proposal as a sign of weakness, while investors smelled desperation.

 

That news came on the heels of a New York Times article that outlined an email Marchionne sent to GM’s boss Mary Barra, which reportedly expressed interest in a merger between Fiat Chrysler and General Motors. Barra declined the offer, but Marchionne maintains that, considering the current economic climate, a merger is in the best interest of all automakers, saying in April: “I think it is absolutely clear that the amount of capital waste that’s going on in this industry is something that certainly requires remedy. A remedy in our view is through consolidation.”

Some saw the merger proposal as a sign of weakness, while investors smelled desperation. Consequently, FCA’s stock value dropped 10 percent in the following two days.

FCA is currently the seventh-largest automaker in the world, with Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Lancia, Ram Trucks, Abarth, Mopar, SRT, Ferrari, and Maserati all falling under the FCA umbrella.

Which begs the question – is the behemoth struggling to stay afloat?

Clearly, the Giulia is an extremely important model, and not just for Alfa Romeo. The success of this sedan could predict the health of not only the Alfa brand, but also FCA as a whole (not to mention the likelihood we’ll see eight new Alfa models by 2018).

However, it’s got the goods, that’s for sure, with Italian styling, heritage, and a Ferrari-derived V-6 under the hood. Harald Wester, who heads Alfa Rome and Maserati, said this of the new Giulia: “We want owners to feel that they’re an integral and indispensable part of the machine. The dynamic element is an important portion of what we do.”

That translates into a car that’s sold on charisma and character, with very little in terms of driver’s aides and autonomous features. By contrast, Wester describes the major German competitors as “mostly cold and clinical,” adding that they had “no soul.”

For the most part, I agree. I can’t wait to get the new four-door stateside to take on the veritable ocean of 3 Series and A4s clogging the roadways. Let’s just hope the general public sees it the same way I do.

2016 Alfa Romeo Giulia

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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You can check our speculative review here.

Source: Automotive News

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