By on July 13, 2017

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti - Image: FCAWe can’t call it The Big Mo. Medium Mo might also be too strong a term.

But Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Alfa Romeo division is beginning to pick up a measure of Giulia sales momentum in the United States. And with the launch of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Alfa’s first utility vehicle, occurring now, we should expect to see major improvements in the third and fourth-quarter of 2017.

But this big medium modest momentum comes as high-profile Alfa Romeo Giulias, the Giulias that land in the hands of the people who tell the world about the Giulia, fail with shocking regularity.

The latest failure? Last night, in the hands of a Jalopnik crew that lived to tell the tale.

Month after month after month, Alfa Romeo reports ever higher Giulia sales in the U.S. In fact, Giulia sales doubled between March and June. Sure, you expect to see sales ramp up during a launch phase, but doing so with an all-new car and a relatively unknown brand in a limited dealer network is no easy feat.

Is the Giulia a popular car? No. In June, the Giulia’s best month to date, the rapidly declining Volvo S60 outsold the Alfa. And the S60, you’ll recall, is not a popular car.

However, the climb to 992 sales last month — more than what the Jaguar XE has managed in each of the last three months — was fairly rapid. Month-over-month, Giulia sales rose 31 percent in April, 39 percent in May, and 12 percent in June, ending a second-quarter with 160-percent more sales than in 2017 Q1.

But that momentum is not going to be sustainable as word gets around that the cars Alfa Romeo is handing out to the press are failing at a rate that modern automotive journalists — and perhaps automotive journalists of any era — have never seen. I’ve tested around 250 different cars over the last half-decade and have yet to experience a failure beyond infotainment or power tailgate operation.

We’ve described Alfa’s situation in the past. Consumer Reports’ Giulia was spending so much time at the dealer that editors weren’t getting a chance to drive it. The Alfa Romeo Giulia that won a comparison test at Car And Driver couldn’t always keep its engine running. Motor Trend tested multiple failing Giulias; Jalopnik’s Quadrifoglio tester was a quality nightmare.

Then, in a PistonHeads video published last week, a Giulia Quadrifoglio died on track.

 


Last night, Jalopnik experienced exactly what we were all told we would experience with Alfa Romeo. With fewer than 2,000 miles under its belt, the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia “started shuddering,” Michael Ballaban writes.

“The throttle was barely working,” Ballaban says. “I’d give it a light brush, and the car would go into conniption fits, its gearbox bogging and its motor unable to provide acceleration.”

Today, Road And Track’s Sam Smith described a track test in which a Giulia, “couldn’t hold together long enough to give me one full lap.”

To be fair, not all Alfa Romeo Giulia press cars break down. Our own Chris Tonn spent a week with an Alfa Romeo Giulia that remained in operation, although it did struggle to tell temperature.

But the fact that we’re surprised to learn of an Alfa Romeo Giulia that doesn’t feel at some point during a week-long test does not bode well for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, nor for Alfa Romeo’s U.S. fortunes in toto. So far, FCA has found itself capable of finding more and more U.S. buyers for the clearly exceptional driver’s car that is the Alfa Romeo Giulia. For that momentum to continue, a much higher percentage of Alfa Romeo Giulias will need to maintain momentum on the road, as well.

[Image: FCA]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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76 Comments on “As Alfa Romeo Giulias Literally Lose Momentum, the Giulia’s Market Momentum is Picking Up...”


  • avatar
    pragmatic

    The people who bought old Alfas won’t notice and may be pleased.

    • 0 avatar
      Southerner

      That’s VFF right there, I don’t care who you are.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Lol, they’ll be like “um, its Italian, its a driver’s delight, and its a looker- you want reliability TOO?”

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Except…the number of people who bought old Alfas was small to begin with…because of reliability issues…

    • 0 avatar
      Jean-Pierre Sarti

      what boggles my mind is we ALL know they suck in reliability, and FCA must know it too, so why the hell are they not doing anything about it.

      I’m not just talking about this car but FCA cars in general. Hell just in my extended family alone there are no less than three people who think the 500 is cute but are scared off by the reliability.

      can’t they poach a couple of toyota corolla engineers or something?

      i guess i am just being naive about this, there must be something i am missing.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “can’t they poach a couple of toyota corolla engineers or something?”

        that’s not how it works. “Quality” is largely a function of corporate discipline and mindset. it’s not a tool you can buy or a person you can hire.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          @Jean-Pierre Sarti

          That’s how GM thought it worked with the NUMMI experiment. Toyota would just give them a “secret sauce” they could pour on everything to cure quality woes.

          Like JimZ said: “That’s not how it works.”

          • 0 avatar
            Jean-Pierre Sarti

            ok fine i get you can’t buy quality, but damn FCA has had this bad rap for how long now? that’s what blows me away is you think eventually they would be like “ok our cars suck at this, let’s do it better”

    • 0 avatar
      Zarba

      Look at my avi, and let me tell you about my ’95 Alfa 164Q…

      Jumped timing-24 bent valves
      Steering Rack
      Electronic Shocks
      Paint
      HVAC
      Unobtanium Cats
      HOW MANY sets of tires?

      More expensive to keep than a mistress

      Still loved that car. Especially when I sold it.

      I’ll pass on a Giulia for now, thank you.

  • avatar
    Chris FOM

    This is the decision I’ll be facing in a couple years when I go to replace my current car. The Giulia is clearly an exceptional driver’s car and it elicits an emotional response from me that the Germans can’t touch. I’d love to splurge on a QV. I’ll even take a reliability hit for the chance to do so. But there’s a difference between a “hit” and “beatdown,” and right now Alfa’s on the wrong side of that line.

    • 0 avatar
      gasser

      The emotional response that this level of reliability causes in me is nausea.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Hopefully by then, problems will be worked out. Otherwise, it may not be around by then.

      • 0 avatar
        dror

        “Hopefully by then, problems will be worked out”

        Ya, right, this is an Alfa DNA, it will never go away, I had 2 of them back in the 80’s, I also worked in an Alfa dealership, you can’t imagine the problems we had with brand new Alfa’s back then, truth to be told, it was always a blast to drive one, I love these cars but reliability was always an issue, when they start bringing back Fiat and Alfa to the US, I suspected it will not take long to discover why these cars are absent from the US market for so many years, I also heard a talk about bringing back Peugeot to the US…..Please don’t !!!

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      If buying used, bad reliability with known fixes (lets see if known fixes ever come to Alfa or their owners) makes for a good buy. Personally I’m still waiting for either Alfa, Jaguar, Genesis, or even Kia to offer a manual in the rwd sedan market. With BMW pulling out of a market that their hearts hadn’t been in in 10 years, there is a niche that should be filled by someone trying to conquer new markets.

  • avatar
    wintermutt

    Alfa-Romeo:
    All Loosely Fitted Accessories Remain On Motorway Enraging Others (via Blue Meanie)

    http://jalopnik.com/5879789/the-definitive-guide-to-derogatory-auto-acronyms

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    So much for all the BS we’ve been fed for years that ALL modern cars are good nowadays

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Nobody claimed they all were perfect. Just that most can be reasonably trusted to be reliable. Notice I said “most”.

      This IS a good car. Its not yet reliable or problem-free, but its better than “good” in all other respects. This isn’t an old Plymouth Volare that is a both a terrible car AND unreliable to boot.

      • 0 avatar
        Erikstrawn

        My parents’ Volare was a terrible car in terms of luxury, but it was one of the most reliable vehicles they owned. It had the leaning tower of power. If it wasn’t leaking oil, it was out. It was still in good running condition at 250k miles when they traded it in on a Plymouth Voyager – which turned out to be a turd for reliability, but a lot more comfortable (when you were sitting by the side of the road, looking forward to replacing another cylinder head).

    • 0 avatar
      jeoff

      Not seeing many complaints on the non-company Giulia forums. Same group with the Pacifica forums get complaints. I know there are a lot more Pacificas than Giulias, if it were a super-lemon I would expect more complaints, and less happy folks.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Car and Driver has been a major purveyor of the ‘no more bad cars’ lie. They are about as trustworthy as the Giulia that won their comparison test.

  • avatar
    W210Driver

    I’ve not been keeping up with the reviews for this car (because it does not interest me), but have any of the new Giulias caused trouble in some European reviews? It just seems a little…cliche-like… that the American press is having issues with their Giulia press cars while elsewhere they seem to be fine.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      either they’re just more accustomed to driving unreliable junk, or they didn’t spend much time with the cars. Top Gear’s “review” is a whole five paragraphs.

      • 0 avatar
        Magnusmaster

        For some reason everything breaks down more often in the USA than in Europe or anywhere else on the planet. Even the least reliable cars in USA are considered extremely reliable in my country.

        • 0 avatar
          pdieten

          That’s not true. The only difference is that we have Japanese cars in the US, so we have far higher expectations for reliability here than people do in places without Japanese cars.

          Reminds me of when the Yugo hit these shores in 1986. The Zastava it was based on was probably the best car available in Yugoslavia in the early ’80s and Yugos were built to even higher standards, but that was nowhere near good enough for the US market.

    • 0 avatar
      RD135i

      The Sunday Times, UK. Piston Head, UK, too.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Look at the German TUV long term reliability results. Japanese cars are just as superior to Eurotrash in Germany as they are in the US. The difference is Europeans. Just as a black American was beaten to death in Greece by locals for taking a selfie with a waitress the other day, Lewis Hamilton has been greeted at winter testing in Spain by ‘fans’ in black face and afro-wigs. White supremacy is alive and well across the pond.

  • avatar
    2manycars

    No surprise here. “Ginzo cars are unreliable” is right up there with “Jap cars rust” and “the sun rises in the east and sets in the west” when it comes to taking note of the bleeding obvious.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I actually saw one yesterday, and it was driving down the street. Or maybe it coasting to a stop – I don’t know.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    That Pistonheads video is pretty damning.

    Does FCA/Alfa ever publicly respond to these disastrous tests?

    Seriously, Giulia buyers aren’t just wandering onto the Alfa lot after cross-shopping a Camry; they know what they want because they’ve read about it. And if they’ve read about it, why do they still show up after seeing all the bad press?

  • avatar

    I’m amazed, only because you expect a press car to be perfect…tires balanced without weights, shocks broken in at the 15k mile mark…all bushings perfect.

    Tires buffed in.

    Every single option, even if most won’t be sold that way. I don’t think any magazine ever tested a CTS that wasn’t FE3

    Maybe a “really healthy” version of the engine…hey, who will notice a few extra pounds of boost ? At the very least, no Monday AM or Friday PM cars.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Bringing Alfa to America must be a serious money drain for FCA. Do they have any idea or plan for recovery?

  • avatar
    slavuta

    All Italian stuff is pretty but not functional or lasts long

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Great looking, steaming pile of garbage. I applaud anyone who buys one, as the car most likely will go up in value because it will be a novelty in 20 years as a very low mileage supreme touring car that could have been, but wasn’t because it was well, you know. A steaming pile of garbage.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      There is an also-Italian analogue to this car from the 1980s, the Maserati Biturbo. Gorgeous, lots of heritage and style, etc. Dismal reliability. To this day I have never seen one with any appreciable mileage, as they all began having major problems at about the 20K mile mark. The eventual collector value equation that you suggest still hasn’t occurred, as far as I’m aware.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I still think of Car and Driver’s comment that a Maserati Biturbo was the perfect car to give a spouse in a divorce. The judge thinks you’re being generous (ohhhhhhhhh, a Maserati!) but there’s a good chance it will go up in flames and immolate your former spouse.

  • avatar
    Magnusmaster

    It looks like Game Over for FIAT. The weird thing is, most of their other cars at least work. What went wrong with the Giulia? They should pull out the car off the market until they get this sorted out.

  • avatar
    MGV001

    Too bad… I don’t need that level of Alfa Romeo experience as I already have a GTV6. I suppose I’ll have to wait a few more years for a new Alfa Romeo and that’s only if they are still around and offering sorted cars with a manual gearbox. Highly unlikely, unfortunately.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Is it time to start recycling the Yugo jokes?

    Q. What comes with every Guilia user’s manual?
    A. The bus schedule.

    Q. What do you call a Guilia at the top of a big hill?
    A. A miracle!

    Q: What do you call two Guilias at the top of a hill?
    A: A mirage!

    Q: How do you make a Guilia move faster?
    A: Hook it up to a tow truck.

    and the classic..

    Q: Why do Guilia’s have a heater for the back window?
    A: To keep your hands warm when pushing.

  • avatar

    Not a big deal, you cannot intimidate me with this kind of shit. I owned Lada which had fits and failures every day sometimes stalling in the middle of freeway. And 80% of people in Russia owned and LOVED their Ladas. At least Alfa Romeo is much better car than Lada, I hope.

    BTW Europeans used to ownership of unreliable cars, having a pool of motor oil under car in garage was considered as a normal part of car ownership experience (Taub, Taurus: The Making of the Car That Saved Ford). So there is nothing wrong with US – simply Americans are more demanding to quality. Europeans have to be grateful that Government in Brussels still allows them to own a car. But Governments patience will not last too long.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    A $299/mo two year lease for the base Giulia will cost $10,476 before taxes.

    Doing that math is all that keeps me from going to look at them. Not the horror stories.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Sexy as hell. But no way would I buy one.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Stunningly, achingly beautiful. But no…just, no. She might be a mind-blowing one-night stand, but not much for building a future with.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    I just wish all of those whiny Internet Car People who demand cars like the Giulia (but never actually stick their own necks out and buy one) would stick this up their a$$es.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    Why not? You are more than welcome drone around in a reliable Corolla or Camry.

    But when we are all being shuttled around in 15 years or so in some autonomous electric van, will you have any regrets that you went with the boring car?

    I’ll gladly take the risk and factor in the occasional uber trip into the cost of ownership.

    • 0 avatar
      Cactuar

      As someone commented on Jalopnik, you can get a reliable Toyota that isn’t entirely terrible to drive, it’s called a Lexus.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Why not? You are more than welcome drone around in a reliable Corolla or Camry.”

      another dimp who acts like those are the only two possible choices.

      get back to Jalopnik, kid.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Love this car, absolutely beautiful and would love for Alfa to succeed in the US. It wont though with this level of reliability. There are only so many fan boys out there who are willing to roll the dice. Everyone else “yeah, pretty cool….but….I really need to make it to work every day”. Its a shame, more shameful really that it went to market with all of these problems. I dare say that only FCA would green light such vehicle with these sort of issues.

    In any event, just want to point out some needed editing in the last paragraph. A few letters would make it much easier to understand on the first read.

    “But the fact that we’re surprised to learn of an Alfa Romeo Giulia that doesn’t feel at some point during a week-long test does not bode well for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, nor for Alfa Romeo’s U.S. fortunes in toto.”

    Feel=Fail, Toto=Total

    That sentence is a train wreck either way, but changing a few letters would help considerably.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    I tend to agree with one of the comments on Jalopnik that said these breakdowns are a product of people driving the Giulia out of obligation to their jobs as autojournalists, which is lame.

    Giulias must be driven either for EXCITING things like racing your pregnant wife to the hospital, getting plutonium back to the lab, or, of course, for no genuine reason whatsoever beyond appreciation for the SOUL and PASSION Giulia oozes.

    If you bore Giulia, she will let you know it.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    My elderly father, who’s been practical and financially sensible with his vehicles (i.e. Japanese makes) is in love with the Giulia. Probably some residual glow from his youth. I hope he doesn’t spend my inheritance buying and maintaining one.

  • avatar
    MLS

    Following up on its Quadrifoglio review, Car and Driver recently tested a more pedestrian four-cylinder Giulia and again experienced problems including a dead sunroof and inconsistent Bluetooth connection.

    http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2017-alfa-romeo-giulia-20t-rwd-test-review

  • avatar
    matt3319

    I have no doubt the Giulia is a sweet drivers car. But the voice in the back of my head says “stay away, its a repair nightmare. I had the same thought about the Chrysler 200S AWD V6. I ended up buying that 200 and other than a reflashed computer to smooth out the ZF transmission it ran ok for the 16 months I owned it. Luckily I sold it right as Marchionne talked bad about the 200.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I just got back from a trip to France and the last week of the trip we had a rental car and drove through southern France. I saw probably 5-6 of these. They look great in person.

    I personally love the Quadrifoglio and will seriously shop it next time…with a lot of research too. I’m sure it will fall of my short list, but I still like it.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I can’t believe this is what FCA bet the house on. What a disaster. This is what happens when you take an already resource strapped company and try to develop an all new luxury car in 2 years. They still haven’t fixed Maserati’s problems either. They just don’t care.

    That said I’m still hoping they will use this platform for the next gen LX cars. We already know everything Chrysler has works (well at least better than this).

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    An eye-talian car that is beautiful to look at but a POS quality wise? UNPOSSIBLE!!

  • avatar
    vvk

    I don’t know about these Alfas but I once test drove a 1987 Milano Verde and that car was so good it was scary. I will never forget that day.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    I’m surprised about how few Giulias I’ve seen in Vancouver. We’re one of the largest luxury car markets per capita, thanks to the Chinese being able to launder, oops I mean bring, money in from China. Scads of Lamborghinis, Bentleys, Rollers and the 3 series is as common as a Camry. But next to no Giulias.

  • avatar
    Bazza

    I’m not sure this is surprising enough to warrant a post. Who in their right mind thought this flashy POS was going to spend any less than half its service life in a dealer service bay?

  • avatar
    Forty2

    I don’t exactly live in the sticks and travel all over N. America for work and I still have yet to see a Giulia in the wild. I hope it looks better than photos where it invokes a melty Chrysler 200 aside from the shnoz.


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