CAR Most Wanted of 2014: Alfa Romeo GiuliaFri, 20 Dec 2013 00:00:00 -0800
By Georg Kacher
First Official Pictures
20 December 2013 13:00
Strictly, the Alfa Romeo Giulia won’t go on sale in the UK until 2015, but given it was first slated for a 2012-dated (!) launch, we’ll allow it inclusion here.
What’s the hold up? The first culprit was the all-important styling. Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne wasn’t happy with the agreed proposals, even slamming an early design as ‘bland like a Lexus’. So, it’s been back to the drawing board until the scribblers turned out something worthy of the car world’s sexiest marque.
The image in our gallery shows CAR’s artist’s impression of the new Giulia, based on insider information smuggled out of Alfa Romeo HQ. With the gorgeous looks, a suite of new engines, and front-and four-wheel drive drivetrain platforms agreed upon, the Giulia was set for an early-2014 reveal. And then all hell broke loose.
It’s that man again, Sergio Marchionne. The Fiat guru decided that to truly compete with the BMW 3-series and new Mercedes C-class, Alfa’s new sports saloon should ditch its humdrum front-wheel drive underpinnings, and switch to a purist-pleasing rear-drive chassis. A man after our own heart…
Marchionne got his RWD wish, but it’s caused a major engineering headache, and production delay for Alfa Romeo. The car’s body will have to be re-engineered to accommodate the Maserati-derived rear-drive gubbins, which (along with the critical-for-US all-wheel drive option) will share components with the new Maserati Ghibli.
Expect the new Giulia to grow a longer wheelbase, and have a shorter front overhang. The reshuffle should improve dynamics, and channelling a taste of the 4C sports car’s fun-to-drive spirit into junior exec-dom.
All Giulia engines will use stop-start to slash fuel consumption: reckon on a range of turbocharged four-pot petrols and diesels, and a new all-aluminium petrol V6 flagship. The alternative to the standard six-speed manual will be an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox.
The replacement for the 159 should finally arrive in 2015, in time to fight the new Mercedes C-class and upcoming Audi A4. Of course, the big test is the mighty BMW 3-series – can Alfa really outpoint the Three? After such a long wait to get it right, Alfa can’t afford to miss the target this time.
By Georg Kacher