By on December 3, 2019

In the struggling Alfa Romeo brand’s near future, the subset of voices calling for sexy new sports cars will have to take a backseat to owners and would-be buyers who just want minor improvements to existing vehicles.

Exciting? Not very, but Alfa isn’t concerned with wowing the blogger crowd at this point in time. The axe taken to its future product lineup shows this pretty clearly. In response to the about-face, Alfa’s North American director claims the sky is no longer the limit, though you can expect some sexy new lower body cladding.

That cladding can be found covering the lower regions of the brand’s Stelvio crossover, and come 2020, it’ll be body-colored, rather than looking like something found in a GM or Subaru showroom.

Premium!

“The vehicle should be quieter? We’ve added laminated glass throughout the vehicle,” said Bob Broderdorf, referring to changes arriving for the Giulia sedan. Broderdorf’s comments, reported by Automotive News, were made during the recent Los Angeles Auto Show.

“On the Stelvio, before, we used to have plastic cladding down below. Why? It’s a premium vehicle; it shouldn’t be there! Let’s change it to body color and drive home the premium feel of the vehicle.”

(See gratuitous butt shots above and below.)

Small changes, but Broderdorf claims it’s proof that the brand takes criticism seriously. With the brand’s Fiat Chrysler parent now pursuing a merger with France’s Groupe PSA, Broderdorf shot down speculation that Alfa might find itself on the chopping block. That said, he admitted — albeit obliquely — that the brand’s difficult rebirth in North America requires less ambitious planning.

Alfa sales shrunk 27 percent through the end of October; with the 4C now discontinued, the marque offers buyers just two vehicles, and the short-term product plan now shows no reborn 8C or GTV model. In their place, a compact SUV (Tonale) will arrive in 2021, with an electrified small utility vehicle arriving a year later.

“I fundamentally believe in the brand, but we must make sure that any investments that we make generate an appropriate return,” the brand’s director said, echoing comments made by FCA CEO Mike Manley.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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39 Comments on “We’re Listening to Customers, Alfa Romeo Director Claims...”


  • avatar

    How about you make sure the cars have even panel gaps, for a premium feel? That red one has an appalling gap at the tailgate.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    The 6 cylinder, which is priced to the atmosphere, should be the base engine. The 4 is an embarrassment to be in a so called luxury car.
    If they need a bigger engine to up-sell bore and stroke out the current 6.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I assume you think the Q3, GLA, and X3 are also embarrassing?

      (The Stelvio is the same price as an X3, with considerably more power and torque from the same displacement and cylinder count.

      It has problems, but “embarrassing engine” simply isn’t one of them for almost anyone in this market.

      Unless you think the “luxury compact SUV” market really demands 6 cylinders, which is contradicted by … *the entire market*.

      The RDX? 2.0T. NX300? 2.0T.

      Seeing a pattern here? Nobody in this market segment is defaulting to anything but a 2.0T; some are cheaper, but also have less power from their 4-cylinders.)

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Yes, they’re all embarrassing. All CUVs are embarrassing, but 2.0T CUVs are more embarrassing. The only thing worse is a 3-cylinder turbo CUV (looking at you, GM).

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I don’t think it unreasonable to have a base 2.0T in this class, but it is a pretty big jump between the $40K 280hp base cars and the $80k 505hp version. Many automakers offer an intermediate engine choice which might be a good move for FCA with the brand.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        “ I assume you think the Q3, GLA, and X3 are also embarrassing?”

        Yes they are absolute embarrassments to have the name premium, much less “luxury” applied to them. Nothing wrong with a 4 cylinder car but when you attach a premium cache to it then it’s a miserable embarrassment.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    So, this is why we can’t have a pumped-up Compass? Meh

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Does anyone on Earth actually want a pumped-up Compass?

      Or even a normal Compass?

      (Okay, I checked, they managed to sell 110,000 of them last year, which ain’t peanuts.

      I guess someone must. But I don’t think they want a pumped one, any more than people want a pumped RAV-4.)

  • avatar

    I like how it’s 2019 and Alfa acts like they are just learning things that other brands have understood for decades.

  • avatar

    It’s truly sad how the relaunch of Alfa Romeo (and also FIAT) was SO badly botched. They are beautiful vehicles with personality and performance. Their previous Achilles’ heel was their well deserved reputation for unreliability. Instead of doubling down to ensure the relaunched products were bulletproof, they released vehicles (the Quadrifoglios in particular) that reinforced the previous reputation that led them to abandon this market in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      Mnemic

      Where is this proof? I keep hearing they are “unreliable” but I’ve yet to see an actual owner in here saying so. Is this some made up rumor that people are typing out as fact?

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Noisy interior and body cladding aren’t Alfa’s problems. Reliability or the lack thereof is. So is that crappy infotainment system and backup camera.

    This is beyond obvious to buyers who cross shop basically any other brand including Honda and Toyota.

    I liked the Stelvio, but unless you’re leasing it for their $300/mo special, it’s not worth the risk.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    Bragging about a bit of different trim. Sounds like the last days of Studebaker.

    Rumor mill says the upcoming Afla Tonale is a reskinned Jeep Compass, unless they cancel the Tonale.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    unfortunately, the “customers” they were listening to were really crank callers from Howard Stern’s show.

  • avatar
    FThorn

    I’ve driven multiple Alfas (4c, Giulia, Stelvio) multiple times, and hard on tracks. I tell everyone that if they want to start with a true driver’s car feel, get one.

    I drove Giulia Quad back to back after a Huracan Spyder RWD and Porsche in California hills as well. One after another. And the Giulia really stood out. The Huracan was pee-inducing at times, hard at the limits on damp street in ‘race’ mode.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I did something similar in Vegas, only it was the Porsche and a Ferrari. Loved the Porsche, not much the Ferrari.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Nice to hear. The Giulia certainly looks interesting. It might be nice if there was a performance level above the base, yet below the Quadrifoglio.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I actually saw a Giulia at my last track day and was completely shocked. You pretty much only see BMWs and occasionally Audi, Benz or Charger when it comes to track day sedans.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      what’s funny is that for as much sh*t as DeLorenzo has given FCA over the whole Alfa thing, he did put down his own money on a Stelvio and apparently he got a good one. Hasn’t mentioned any notable problems with it.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’ve heard really good things about how the Giulia drives. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be as good to own, which is the problem.

      • 0 avatar
        Mnemic

        Says who? You? That doesn’t own one? Lol

        • 0 avatar
          Rutlefan1

          “I’ve heard really good things about how the Giulia drives. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be as good to own, which is the problem.”

          Yes, says who? People on the forums — Giulia and Facebook — love theirs. I bought an early ’17 Ti and I absolutely love it; best car under $100k I’ve driven since a 987 Cayman S, but the Giulia has four doors! I think it a contemporary BMW E46 3-series, a quicker, more powerful 330i (with ZHP package if you really want to get specific). Just a fantastic car and most 2.0 owners have had no significant issues (I’ve had none at all in 20k miles).

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Did anyone ever buy a ZHP with an automatic? What a waste. I hope you really love your car as much as you say, because it’s got the retained value of last night’s dinner.

          • 0 avatar
            Rutlefan1

            @ ToddAtlas, since I can’t reply to your post it seems. I have seen ZHPs with autos but I agree that would be a waste; I think nice NA engines should be mated to manuals. Low-revving (relatively) turbo 4s, on the other hand, seem to be well-suited for autos, and the ZF 8-spd is fantastic. I prefer it to any DCT I’ve driven for normal roads.

            You seem angry all the time when discussing Alfas. What’s up with that? And yes, I do intend to keep the Ti so the residual value doesn’t interest me, though if I bought a new Bimmer or Merc I’d be in much the same position (pay to play, as they say). After the Ti is paid off I’ll probably get a QV, with the Ti Q4 being the all-weather car, and which will eventually be given to my son when he can drive. It’s all good, thanks for the concern.

  • avatar
    EGSE

    Where in NA has Alfa sold in any meaningful volume? In the MD/VA/DC MSA I’ve seen about as many of all types in a year as I see Teslas in an average day.

    In fact, FIATs were historically fairly thin on the ground but recently they’ve practically vanished. Where did they go?

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I’m in the same area, and up until this year, Alfas were rare enough that I only needed two hands to count them. Once I used up my thumbs I stopped keeping track. But still, that took a long time.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I visited Autotrader this morning, which has been totally redesigned since the last time I looked. Now, under new cars, you can choose from “Popular Makes” and “Other Makes”. Other Makes starts with Alfa Romeo, and includes such dead brands as AMC, Daewoo, Datsun, DeLorean, Eagle, Mercury, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saab, Scion, Smart, SRT, Suzuki, and Yugo.

    The other half of that collection includes such rarities as Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Maserati, Maybach, and Rolls-Royce.

    Oh, and Fiat’s there too.

    The question is, should Alfa/Fiat be categorized in the graveyard, or among the unicorns?

  • avatar
    NN

    I really do wish they offered a stick in the Giulia. It would give them a bump in sales, given that it is the type of brand that buyers want to have a stick shift with. That is my greatest disappointment with Alfa’s return to the US.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Pathetic automatic scum.

  • avatar

    I would guess they are good driver cars but not a good value when new. So best is to buy slightly used for half the MSRP. If you are confident of course that they are at least GM level reliable.

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