The past few months have raised quite a few eyebrows for enthusiasts of Alfa Romeo. First, the storied Italian sports car manufacturer became a part of the new industry giant Stellantis, which was created by the merger of the America-Italian Fiat-Chrysler and the French Peugeot group. Next, EV rumors began to fly about Alfa Romeo, sparked by the decision of Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares to introduce four new EV platforms for all 14 automotive brands owned by Stellantis.
An electric Alfa Romeo might sound like a crazy idea since the brand was built on high-performance luxury sedans and SUVs. The current models, the Giulia sedan and the Stelvio SUV, represent some of the best vehicles in their class currently available in the United States. So, this begs a number of questions. First, will Alfa Romeo continue to hit all the luxury points that it does with its two current models? Second, even if Alfa Romeo is able to deliver on the luxury features synonymous with the brand, will it continue to give you the performance thrills of its famed Quadrifoglio models?
Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio
The two current models marketed by Alfa Romeo here in the United States, the Giulia and Stelvio, are built on the famous Giorgio platform pioneered by former FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne. This platform will be discontinued in the future as the new Stellantis platforms are phased in, but for now, you can get a part of this legacy of the late maestro Marchionne with either of these two fine vehicles.
The 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan is an ideal mix of luxury, technology, and performance, especially if you opt for the top Quadrifoglio trim. There are four total trim levels with the Sprint, Ti, and Ti Sport, each featuring a choice of all-wheel or rear-wheel drive. The Quadrifoglio is rear-wheel drive only to maximize performance. Speaking of performance, the Sprint, Ti, and Ti Sport each are equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. This engine will give you 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque, enough to get your Giulia from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 5.5 seconds.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio tops this with a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 engine based on a Ferrari design that will give you 505 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Alfa Romeo claims the Giulia Quadrifoglio is the fastest 5-passenger sedan in the world, based on its 7:32 lap around the Nurburgring. While the claim is likely suspect, we doubt anyone will be disappointed by its top speed of 181 miles per hour and ability to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds. It helps that Alfa Romeo has reduced the weight on the Giulia Quadrifoglio by using carbon fiber in the manufacture of its roof, hood, steering wheel, and driveshaft.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio matches the performance of the Giulia but in a midsize SUV package. Just like the Giulia, the Stelvio also has four trims, with the top model being the Stelvio Quadrifoglio – the Sprint, Ti, and Ti Sport again fill in the other three slots. All models feature Alfa Romeo’s Q4 all-wheel drive system standard except for the Sprint, which is also offered in rear-wheel drive. The Stelvio shares its two engine options with the Giulia, although the Stelvio Quadrifoglio can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a blazing 3.3 seconds, with a slightly lower top speed of 176 miles per hour.
Alfa Romeo also doesn’t skimp on luxury. Every model of the Stelvio and Giulia comes with leather seats, each with some novel features. The front seats on the Sprint have lumbar adjustment. The Ti trim has heated front seats. The front seats on the Ti Sport also have power bolsters and manual thigh supports. Finally, the Quadrifoglio features Alcantara Suede performance front seats that also have power bolsters and manual thigh supports for maximum comfort.
The Stelvio and Giulia also stand out for their high-tech features, including an advanced infotainment system on an 8.8-inch multitouch display. This includes Apple CarPlay support, Android Auto integration, and a 6-month subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio. The Ti, Ti Sport, and Quadrifoglio add a 3-D navigation system to make it easier to find your next destination.
The Quadrifoglio trims of the Stelvio and Giulia are an audiophile’s dream with a 14-speaker Harman Kardon Premium Audio system. This will help turn your Alfa Romeo into a concert hall. The Quadrifoglio also features wireless charging for your smart devices.
Alfa Romeo’s Electric Future
After the takeover by Stellantis, former Peugeot Executive Vice President Jean-Philippe Imparato was named CEO of Alfa Romeo and tasked with moving the brand into EVs for the future. Imparato commented that, “We must take advantage of the volumes to take all possible opportunities and bring an EV range to Alfa Romeo, but always with the touch of Alfa Romeo.” However, Alfa Romeo may have already been moving in this direction.
In 2019, Alfa Romeo announced a new concept car, the Tonale. This plug-in hybrid compact SUV is a first for Alfa Romeo, mixing the fuel efficiency and reduced carbon footprint of a hybrid with the luxury styling synonymous with the brand. The Tonale will be front-wheel drive standard with an available all-wheel drivetrain for those desiring better grip and traction. This is a shift for Alfa Romeo as the current models are either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. The hybrid powertrain will consist of a rear-mounted electric motor powered, supplementing a turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine. The Tonale will have three drive modes. Natural Mode will allow the vehicle to manage a balance between the two engines for the greatest efficiency. Dual Power Mode will derive maximum output from the electric and gas motors for optimum performance. Advance E is a full-electric mode, with the gas engine recharging the Tonale’s battery.
Alfa Romeo plans to pull out the stops on the technology when it comes to the all-new Tonale. The vehicle will feature a 10.3-inch touchscreen on the infotainment system, with new apps called Alfista and Paddock. Alfista is a type of social media platform where owners of the Alfa Romeo Tonale can interact with other owners and clubs, including special community events. Paddock is a marketplace for new interior and exterior upgrades and equipment for your Tonale. In addition, the Tonale’s infotainment system will allow you to make adjustments to the braking, direct steering, and throttle settings on your new Alfa Romeo hybrid.
Since the announcement by Stellantis of the discontinuation of the Giorgio platform for Alfa Romeo, rumors have been swirling that the GTV may be revived as a full EV. The original plan for the revival of the GTV was to build a two-door sports coupe with a 600-horsepower hybrid engine. It now appears that the plans for the GTV have changed, and it will become a four-door EV. The goal is to retain all of the luxury and technology features currently offered on the Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV but applied to an EV. In addition, the new GTV would probably have the same larger infotainment system as the Tonale with the added features. If these rumors prove to be true, then Alfa Romeo looks to be having an exciting, electrified future.
What’s Next for Alfa Romeo?
With the changes at the top signaling a shift in direction, it is clear that Alfa Romeo will no longer be the same automaker in the not-too-distant future. With the phasing out of the Giorgio platform, we will probably see the end of the Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV, but the trim levels may still remain. This is especially so for the Quadrifoglio top trim, which has long been identified with the luxury and performance of Alfa Romeo. The difference is that we will be seeing new models like the GTV and Tonale sooner rather than later, with other models joining the line that are either EVs or hybrids. With this move, Alfa Romeo appears to be giving new meaning to the phrase “the shock of the new.”