► New Alfa Giulia due on 24 June 2015
► Switch to RWD sparked long delay
► Giulia joined by slew of SUVs, sports cars
Alfa Romeo's new Giulia compact exec to challenge the 3-series/C-class/XE/A4 sector will be shown later today, with its world debut on 24 June 2015. But there are plenty of clues about the car already: a leaked photo from backstage at the event surfaced overnight, echoing CAR magazine's artist's impression from a couple of years ago to give an indication of what to expect from project 952. We'll know for sure in a few hours' time.
NB this story has now been superseded by the world debut of the new Giulia. Check out our news report with official photos, news, specs, prices, on-sale dates and more here.
The new Giulia will kickstart a product renewal programme which could launch nine new cars by the end of the decade in a bid to boost sales to 400,000 by 2018. The revelation was published in the January 2015 issue of CAR magazine. In it, our European editor Georg Kacher interviewed Alfa Romeo CEO Harald Wester, who spelled out his vision for the rejuvenated Italian car maker.
It marks the end of a painfully long wait for new products; most Alfas have withered on the vine, leaving just two core model lines on sale in the UK today, or three if you include the 4C sports car. No wonder sales have dived to around 68,000 a year. This car has to succeed if Wester's plan is to stand any chance of succeeding.
Alfa Romeo Giulia: launching on 24 June 2015
The first new Alfa Romeo to kickstart the product renewal is the Giulia. CAR understands the new 3-series rival will be shown to the world on 24 June 2015, when the company is due to mark the 105th anniversary of becoming the acronym of Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili.
Incredibly, the 159 has been absent from Alfa’s range since 2011 and the Giulia will thrust the company back to the heart of Europe’s premium car heartland. Our computer-generated images (first two pictures in our gallery) date from 2012 and should be approached with caution - but they give an idea of the likely design direction.
Why the big delay? Because Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne sent the project back to square one - and now we know why. It wasn’t just a stylistic U-turn; Alfa Romeo is developing a new rear-wheel drive architecture, codeveloped with Maserati - and it’ll underpin all the new Alfa models in the pipeline.
Alfa Romeo goes RWD again
The news will come as a godsend to Alfisti, a generation brought up on rear-wheel drive Alfas. The platform is based on the RWD matrix of the Ghibli, but mated to smaller-capacity engines.
The four-cylinder motors are understood to be a 1.4 turbo (110 or 180bhp) and a 1.8 available with 200 or 330bhp.
But to compete in the executive heartland, Alfa must offer multi-cylinder engines too. CAR understands a Maser-twinned petrol V6 will be offered in 2.5 and 3.0 capacities, developing up to 510bhp in later, more sporting, twin-turbocharged iterations rolled out over the lifecycle of the car.
A suite of diesel engines will also be available, from a 1.6 four-cylinder to a 3.0 V6 common-rail TD. Sales of the new Giulia are scheduled to begin in spring 2015 in Europe, with the US to follow a few months later.
And Alfa crossovers, sports cars and execs are coming too
Following the new 2015 Giulia comes the next Giulietta in 2016. It too switches to the rear-wheel drive format, making it more of a BMW 1-series hatchback rival. Four-wheel drive will be optional on more powerful models, as with most Alfas.
The Mito supermini bites the bullet; instead, Alfa Romeo plans to stretch upwards into BMW 5-series territory, with a model twinned with the Ghibli and stretching to 4.9m long. The Ammiraglia ‘flagship model will be a sporty and prestigious four-door saloon, period,’ vows Wester.
To read more about the new Alfa Romeo range, don’t miss the full interview with the Alfa Romeo boss in the new January 2015 issue of CAR magazine. You can catch up on previous issues of CAR magazine in our digital edition for iPads and other tablet devices.