Design similarities between the Alfa Romeo Giulia midsize sedan and its chief rival – the BMW 3 series – are so evident that the man responsible for the look of the Giulia defends his work without being asked. "We did not copy a BMW. We took inspiration from our past, specifically from the 156," Alfa Romeo design chief Alessandro Maccolini said.
Maccolini made the comments during a speech he made to the car design community in Mantova, Italy, last month. Alfa would be pleased if the Giulia could match the success of its 156 model line, which in 2000 peaked at 120,000 global sales.
Alfa’s sales have been declining for years as parent Fiat Chrysler has shrunk its lineup to two volume models, the Giulietta compact and MiTo subcompact, and the limited-production 4C sports car. Alfa is counting on the Giulia to help spark a rebound to increase the brand’s global sales to 400,000. Alfa’s 2014 global volume was less than 70,000.
Alfa previewed the Giulia’s top-performing variant, a 510-hp V-6 version from its Quadrifoglio trim line, in June and gave the car its public debut at the recent Frankfurt auto show.
Giulia sales were due to begin by the end of the year led by a high-specification Quadrifoglio launch edition that will start at 95,000 euros in Italy but the Quadrifoglio's market launch has been delayed to the middle of next year, suppliers sources say.
The Giulia’s volume models, which will be powered by a new 2.0-liter gasoline engine and a new 2.2-liter diesel, are now likely to launch in Europe late next year instead of March next year, the sources said. The Giulia's U.S. launch is scheduled to happen about 3 to 6 months after the car goes on sale in Europe.
The Quadrifoglio variant, which has a top speed of 307kph, is aimed at the BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C class AMG. The standard Giulia from the Quadrifoglio trim line will go on sale in early 2016 starting at 79,000 euros. Alfa has not revealed pricing for other models.
The automaker also has not announced any volume targets for the Giulia. IHS Automotive in its latest forecast predicts that Alfa will reach slightly more than 230,000 annual sales by 2018, up from 68,000 last year. Just under 50,000 of those sales will be Giulias and about 23,000 will be a Giulia-based SUV, the firm forecasts.
Alfa knows that to achieve its sales ambitions it will need the Giulia to stand out from rivals such as the recently launched ninth-generation Audi A4. That is why Alfa strived to make the sedan's interior unique.
One way it made sure that every interior detail was truly functional was by having test drivers use each feature while driving on a racetrack. If the features passed the high-speed testing the design department could sign them off for production, Inna Kondakova, interior design chief for the Giulia, said at the Mantova conference.
"Expectations for the Giulia were very high, so we decided to take a no-compromise approach,” she said, adding that every interior part was designed specifically for the Giulia.
Another thing Alfa did was reduce the diameter of the Giulia’s steering wheel to make it easier for the driver to see the instrument panel and the car’s controls.