The long wait is over; Alfa Romeo has finally unveiled its 159 successor, which signals the start of yet another rebirth for the ailing brand. This is the new Alfa Romeo Giulia saloon, revealed here in top-spec Quadrifoglio trim and on sale in mid-2016 aiming straight for the BMW 3 Series, Jaguar XE and 2016 Audi A4.
It’s the first of eight new models from Alfa due by 2018, and will play a significant role in helping the Italian brand boost its sales to over 400,000 by the end of that year; in 2014, it shifted 74,000 models.
The new Giulia’s bold design is a world away from the angular 159’s, and signifies Alfa’s move away from family saloon rivals and into compact executive territory. The 159’s intricate headlamp design is replaced by large LED units that sweep round to the wheelarches.
While the trademark Treofoil V-shaped grille remains, underneath are purposeful air intakes and a prominent lip spoiler. The long, kinked bonnet sweeps back to a steeply raked windscreen, while the side profile reveals a rounded window design similar to the Alfa 8C coupé’s.
The Quadrifoglio (it stands for Cloverleaf) also has butch side sills, although it’s not yet clear whether more humdrum models will get these styling cues.
There’s a hint of the Jaguar XE in the coupé-like rear three-quarter profile, but Alfa has made the car its own with sweeping LED tail-lights and a neat boot spoiler. This model sports racy quad tailpipes with a gloss black surround, hinting at the performance from the Ferrari-derived powertrain underneath.
The BMW M3-rivalling Quadrifoglio model produces 503bhp from its 3.0-litre Bi-turbo petrol V6 – that’s 78bhp more than the M3, and up with the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. And it promises 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds, which is faster than virtually all of its rivals.
There’ll be a choice of auto and six-speed manual gearboxes, plus the car will be available with rear or four-wheel drive – a radical departure from the front-wheel-drive 156 and 159.
Alfa boasts of 50:50 weight distribution, and uses lightweight materials throughout including aluminium for the wings, doors and rear crossmember, a carbon fibre bonnet and roof, and other composites. It also claims best-in-class torsional rigidity.
All cars get multi-link rear suspension and double front wishbones. The Quadrifoglio is said to offer 3bhp per kilo, and we can expect even top variants to weigh around 1,500kg. Adaptive dampers and an updated DNA variable driving system are also available, but it’s unclear if base cars will get these.
The Quadrifoglio also debuts performance tech that’s new to Alfa, including Torque Vectoring, an electromechanical Integrated Brake System and an Active Aero splitter that manages downforce for better high-speed stability. CEO Harald Wester told Auto Express great efforts have been made to differentiate the Giulia from the dominant German (and now British) compact exec crowd.
He explained: “Premium brands offer the same thing. They are interchangeable. If you exaggerate, you could say they’re boring. New Alfa will put the driver back at the centre. It’ll once again become the perfect fusion of man and machine. Putting the driver at centre stage means they’re at the heart of the brand.”
Alfa started with a blank canvas when it came to the Giulia’s interior, too. Its design is a world away from those of current Alfas: while familiar details remain in the cowled dials and chrome-ringed ventilation controls, the swooping dashboard and large central screen are new.
Sporty features such as carbon fibre trim throughout and a push-button engine start mark the car out from small executive rivals. The tall centre console is a result of its rear-wheel-drive layout.
What do you think of Alfa's new Giulia? Can it take on the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE? Let us know in the comments section below...