Interesting points from Autoblog.
It's an interesting time for Alfa Romeo. Wednesday marked the brand's 105th birthday, but also a rebirth of sorts. The new Giulia is the first of several new vehicles to come out of the Project Giorgio skunkworks that has been quietly working to reimagine the brand. Fiat Chrysler is banking on these cars to finally turn Alfa around.
Before the Giulia was rolled out, Alfa Romeo CEO Harald Wester acknowledged that the brand has had its share of missteps in the past. He then called out today's sporty offerings for having evolved into near-perfect but boring, commoditized cars across the industry. They have no soul, he said, nothing to differentiate one from the next.
While I'd argue that each brand in the performance space still has something to differentiate itself from the others, anything that can be done to restore some of the man-machine connection lost to electronics and added weight can only be seen as a good thing. I like what I'm hearing from Alfa so far; below are some notes gleaned from the unveil event that make me think this reawakening might just work.
- The head of the skunkworks is Philippe Krief, a former Ferrari engineer. This is certainly a good sign for the car's dynamics and powertrain.
- Krief was quick to note that the Giulia uses "real" torque vectoring, not a brake-based solution like some others use. The rear differential uses a pair of clutches to apportion torque side to side.
- Alfa claims the car's steering will be the quickest in its segment, which I take to mean the one that currently includes the BMW M3, Mercedes-AMG C63, and Cadillac ATS-V.
- Immediacy translates to the braking system, as well. Alfa has come up with a new design that combines the stability control and brake servo into one unit; it's said to be simpler than two parts and also improves brake response. I'm pretty sure Krief even called its design beautiful while it flashed briefly onscreen. Quadrifoglio cars get carbon-ceramic brake discs to further improve performance and reduce weight.
- I didn't get to sit in the car, or even open the door, but I liked what I saw of the interior. The center console is angled to hem the driver in a little, which works well with the canted, sweeping dash. It kind of reminds me of the look in newer Mazdas – clean and simple with a good balance of organic curves and straight edges.
- Most of the primary controls are on the steering wheel, while the DNA chassis dial and an infotainment knob control pretty much everything else from the center tunnel. The infotainment setup looks to be new, taking its inputs from the German-style central knob that appears to have a touchpad top.
- I don't know how much the car will cost. It is slated to go on sale in the US the first half of 2016, probably as a 2017 model. My guess is that the Quadrifoglio model will have to start somewhere around $75,000.
- It comes off prettier in person. The shape is right for a rear-drive sedan, but it doesn't telegraph much more than that from a distance. Photos also lose some of the details; there is sculpting around the vents, along the doors, and even in the hood and fascias that gives the car more depth within the flowing curves.
- The car shown Wednesday is the Quadrifoglio edition, denoted by the badge on the fender. It uses a new 510-hp, twin-turbo V6. It may or may not be an evolution of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 that Ferrari builds for Maserati's Ghibli and Quattroporte – I didn't get a straight answer. Regardless, it's more powerful. And it features cylinder deactivation.
- Carbon fiber will be applied liberally to the Quadrifoglio car – not as much as in the composite-tubbed 4C, of course, but more than most sport sedans of its kind. The prop shafts, hood, and roof will use the lightweight material, and it will also be seen on interior and exterior trim. A set of racing-shell-style seats will be available but might not make it to the US for the same crash-related reasons Porsche doesn't bring theirs here. The suspension is aluminum, as are the doors and fenders.
- The brand's museum, shuttered sometime around 2009, is set to reopen next week. We got a preview of the renovated and expanded collection. It's definitely worth a stop if you're ever near Milan. You can see photos in the gallery below.
- For the sake of completeness, Alfa even rebooted its logo. The new badge is a bit simpler, with a more modern feel. It still features a cross on one side and a human being swallowed by a serpent on the other.
- The Giulia's sound is Alfa-appropriate. Wester treated the crowd to a few throttle blips once the car was rolled onstage. Like the rest of the design, it stands out from what's currently in this segment. The video below will give you an idea of the aural deliciousness we're in for.