Alfa Romeo Giulia Earnestly Takes On The U.S., Starting At $37995 – Forbes
Alfa Romeo’s return to the U.S. is getting underway in earnest with the launch of the Giulia sedan, with pricing announced this week. Reviving the Alfa Romeo brand in the US has been a key target of Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne from well before the creation of FCA. With the Giulia’s launch, due to be quickly followed by the Stelvio SUV, Alfa Romeo is set to compete in the two largest premium segments.
The Giulia extends Alfa Romeo’s positioning for Italian beauty and performance set by the 8C and 4C, both low-volume and high-excitement sports cars. Giulia continues the brand story and provides a positioning anchor, while Stelvio addresses the increasing demand for utility vehicles. These products share the same platform and powertrain, with the Giulia arriving at dealers in December and the Stelvio planned for the second quarter of 2017.
Alfa Romeo, like Cadillac and Genesis, senses that the market may be growing a bit tired of the dominance of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Head of Alfa Romeo, Reid Bigland, said that he sees opportunity in customers who have owned several BMW or Mercedes models and are ready to change. In an interview at the LA show, Bigland said of the customers that he thinks are ready to step away from the usual suspects, “They still want a European import, from a car perspective, and they want something that drives and handles well…but want something that is a little bit different from the Audi, the BMW and the Mercedes.”
The four-door sedan launches in Giulia, Giulia Ti and Giulia Quadrifoglio trim levels. The Quadrifoglio is the model to covet, with its 505-hp 2.9-liter twin turbo engine. The other Giulias have a 280-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Quadrifoglio arrives first, with the Giulia and Giulia Ti due in the first quarter of 2017. The Giulia starts at $37,995, the Giulia Ti at $39,995 and the QV at $72,000. Options for the rear-wheel-drive sedan include a $2,000 all-wheel-drive system for the Giulia and Giulia Ti, as well as style and convenience packages.
The dynamic and attractive Giulia delivers as a terrific sports sedan, based on my recent first-drive opportunity. The 280-hp engine is delightful and the 505-hp QV exhilarating. There is no manual transmission for the U.S.; all get an eight-speed automatic transmission. Alfa Romeo has a credible product to offer, but that is not enough in today’s marketplace. The brand will need to create awareness and consideration in order to develop and sustain demand.
Alfa sees the best opportunity is that its driving performance and dynamics are wrapped in Italian design and heritage. The challenge is that this heritage and the Alfa Romeo brand itself are unfamiliar to a great number of American consumers. Alfa’s task of raising awareness in a crowded marketplace is not insignificant.