Alfa's high-power reboot

Marchionne will roll out crucial Giulia midsize sedan with 510-hp variant

The Alfa Romeo Giulia project has occupied Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne “both operationally and emotionally,” he said, adding: “It is one of the most important of my career.”

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TURIN — To revive Alfa Romeo, Sergio Marchionne plans a performance-first approach.

German premium competitors launch mainstream versions of their core models first and add high-performance variants later — RS at Audi, M at BMW and AMG at Mercedes-Benz.

Alfa will do the opposite.

The first version of Alfa’s new Giulia sedan to reach the market will be the high-performance Quadrifoglio variant. It offers more horsepower than most rival models because it uses a 510-hp V-6 engine. The Giulia is about the same size as the BMW 3 series.

“This car can beat the Germans any day,” the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO said at the Giulia preview last week in Milan.

Marchionne: Differs from rivals’ approach

Defining boundaries

The Giulia Quadrifoglio is powered by a 2.9-liter V-6 twin-turbocharged engine derived from the 3.9-liter V-8 that Ferrari uses on the new 488 GTB coupe.

Quadrifoglio, which means cloverleaf in Italian, is a symbol used by racing Alfas during the company’s 105-year often-glorious racing history.

Marchionne said he will apply the same top-down Giulia Quadrifoglio approach to the next seven Alfas due in the coming years.

“Alfa should define the boundaries of each segment it will enter,” he said.

In last week’s preview, only power, power-to-weight ratio and acceleration figures were released. Marchionne said the Giulia Quadrifoglio will go on sale in Europe by year end and in the U.S. in the first part of next year at a price “below 100,000 euros,” equal to about $ 112,000.

Power players

The Giulia Quadrifoglio’s speed and horsepower exceed high-end German competitors.
  Engine Horsepower 0-62 mph
Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio 2.9-liter V-6, twin turbo 510 3.9 seconds
Mercedes AMG C63 S 4.0-liter V-8, twin turbo 503 4
BMW M3 3.0-liter V-6, twin turbo 425 4.1
Source: Automakers

The BMW M3’s U.S. sticker starts at $ 62,995, including shipping. The top-end Mercedes C class, the Mercedes AMG C63 S, nearly matches the Giulia Quadrifoglio’s horsepower thanks to a twin-turbocharged 503-hp 4.0-liter V-8; it starts at $ 72,825, including shipping. 

High-volume Giulia models, equipped with 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 3.0-liter V-6 twin-turbo gasoline engines as well as two diesels, will go on sale in Europe early next year and reach the U.S. by summer, sources said. 

“It is no mystery that Alfa is one of the projects that I have been most involved in, both operationally and emotionally,” Marchionne said at the Giulia preview. “It is one of the most important of my career.” 

Since he took over at Fiat in June 2004, Alfa global sales have dropped by more than half from the 175,000 units in 2003.

The Alfa Romeo Giorgio platform will underpin the brand’s first SUV, due late next year.

Racing history

Marchionne assigned a development team led by former Ferrari engineers to revive Alfa. Cordoned off at a site near Modena, the hometown of Ferrari and Maserati, the team created the new Giorgio platform for rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive vehicles.

The platform will underpin Alfa’s first SUV, due late next year.

The goal is to tap into the cachet that lingers from a storied racing history, including the first Formula 1 championship in 1950, and evocative Alfa Romeo production cars, such as the Duetto Spider driven by Dustin Hoffman in the 1967 film The Graduate.

You can reach Luca Ciferri at lciferri@crain.com.


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