Alfa Romeo Giulia
PUBLISHED: 18:42 30 July 2016 | UPDATED: 18:42 30 July 2016
Can the Giulia finally do what has been tried so often - spark a true revival of the great Italian marque?
Building a premium brand from scratch is hard. Ask Toyota about Lexus, or Nissan about Infiniti. Or even Mazda about Xedos – remember that one, at least the unpronounceable name, if not the cars?
How those Japanese marques must envy FIAT for owning the Alfa Romeo brand, one with long-time sporting heritage and a premium image.
And yet, time and time again, we heard how FIAT was committed to reviving its erstwhile rival and latterday takeover victim, only for the product to fall short or be marred in some way.
But after over-optimistic predictions of when it would arrive, it seems the UK will finally see the car in September, sparking a true Alfa revival and using one of the most evocative names in its memorable history: Giulia.
The label adorned several sporting saloons or, with the addition of Sprint or Spider, attractive coupes and convertibles too.
For now, however, it reappears on a compact executive saloon recalling the famous Type 105 model (1962-1978) – the other star car in that Mini-fest, The Italian Job.
Although scripted as the fall guy in the 1969 film, the Giulia was more than capable of dealing with the Minis, being light, aerodynamic, manoeuvrable and fast, and much loved by the Italian police. Alfa Romeo could repeat that heyday with the all-new Giulia, looking slippery and slick and sumptuously equipped inside.
It is said to be finely balanced too, with 50:50 front/back weight distribution and sophisticated rear suspension, allowed by returning to the classic ‘driver’s car’ rear-wheel drive layout, as favoured by that compact executive sector king, the BMW 3 Series.
It will also be offered with all-wheel drive (AWD), responding to the 3 Series’ XDrive option or the Quattro system of another rival, the Audi A4.
The Giulia is tipped to be the vanguard for eight new Alfas and massive investment over the next three years, with sales expectations of some 400,000 a year – more than five times the current Alfa Romeo levels.
The image-building Quadrifoglio (four-leaved clover) Giulia flagship features an all-aluminium Ferrari-inspired 510bhp 2.9-litre turbo petrol V6 engine. It delivers 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds and a maximum of 191mph.
But the hard yards on sales will be done by 2.2-litre diesel versions, offering 148 and 117bhp, and these are tipped to be priced at around or less than BMW’s company car ‘user chooser’ star, the 320d, which starts at around £30,000.
Alfa Romeo Giulia
Price: from £30,000 (estimated)
Driving appeal: *****(expected)
Running costs: ****
Reliability: not yet available
How green?: ****
Best rival: BMW 3 Series
C-Class opens up
Mercedes-Benz begins deliveries of its elegant new C-Class Cabriolet in September, with prices starting at £36,200.
Two trim lines, plus diesel or petrol engines are offered and there’s even a choice of four colours for the electrically-operated fabric roof, which can be raised or lowered at up to 31 mph.
There’s also a choice of six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic transmission.
Superb tow star
Skoda triumphed in the 2016 Tow Car Awards run by The Camping and Caravanning Club, Practical Caravan, and What Car?
Not only did its Superb flagship win the 1,400-1,549kg towing class, it also emerged as overall winner, beating 41 other shortlisted towing vehicles over the gruelling test regime, including emergency lane changes, low speed slaloms, inclines, and emergency brake tests.
Peugeot keeps a grip
One of the market’s cleverest small SUVs/crossovers has just been facelifted – Peugeot’s 2008.
Styling and specifications have been updated, giving the 2008 a greater on-road presence, but it’s the car’s ability to cope with difficult weather and terrain that remains unchanged.