ALFA ROMEO has gone back to the future with its manic new rear-wheel-drive BMW M3 basher, the Giulia.
Packing a heady 380kW of power from its Ferrari-developed twin-turbo, all-aluminium V6 in the flagship Quadrifoglio version, the four-door sports sedan opens a new chapter for the 105-year-old Italian marque, while at the same time reverting to its true sporting heritage and signature styling cues.
Revealed overnight at the revamped Alfa museum near Milan, the mid-sized Giulia will go on sale in Europe early next year, with right-hand drive production starting in about the third quarter of 2016.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia has confirmed the car for Australia, saying it should arrive sometime in the second half of 2016.
Like its mainly German rivals, the Giulia will be available with a variety of powertrains, including a hot petrol four cylinder built at the same plant as the new V6, and – according to European reports – a throaty V6 diesel.
So far, only the headlining Quadrifoglio has surfaced, with the other variants due to go public later this year, around the Frankfurt motor show.
Along with 4C sportscar, the Giulia is part of Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s plan to reinvent the Alfa brand, eventually dispensing with most, if not all, of its front-wheel-drive models, replacing them with thoroughbred rear- and all-wheel-drive cars packed with powerful new engines and light-weight construction technologies. Even the Alfa badge has been updated.
Effectively replacing the old Alfa 159, the Giulia is one of eight new models said to be on the way as Alfa reinvents itself in order to more than quadruple sales by 2018.
In its peak format, the Giulia is one of the most powerful Alfas ever produced, taking the challenge up to the likes of the M3, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, Audi RS4 and Lexus RC F.
Designed and engineered in Alfa’s new skunkworks at Modena, near Ferrari’s headquarters, the Giulia’s twin-turbo V6 shames most of the six-cylinder entrants in the class, and some of the V8 rivals too.
The 380kW peak power is a healthy 63kW more than the BMW M3 twin-turbo inline six’s 317kW, and even more than the latest Benz C63 AMG S’s 375kW.
Only the Nissan GT-R (404kW) and supercars such as the new Ford GT (447kW) and Porsche 911 Turbo (412kW) can boast more in the six-cylinder league.
There was no official mention of transmissions.
The Giulia is said to bolt from standstill to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds – 0.2 seconds faster than the dual-clutch M3.
This is partly due to light-weighting techniques, with carbon-fibre, aluminium and plastics widely used in the body and suspension to slice mass.
The bonnet, roof and tail-shaft are all of carbon fibre, while aluminium was widely used in the brakes, suspension, doors and mudguards. The rear cross-member is made of aluminium composite and plastic, helping to cut the weight to about 1500kg.
Alfa did not release official fuel economy figures, but said Giulia was “surprisingly fuel efficient”, helped by an electronically controlled cylinder deactivation system.
Weight distribution is said to be 50-50 across the axles, with double wishbone front suspension and a multilink rear that “ensures top performance, driving pleasure and comfort”.
The torsional rigidity of the body is supposedly best in class, which is quite a boast, considering the opposition.
Alfa said it wanted the fewest possible electronic control systems for the Giulia’s roadholding and performance, instead relying on the “excellent base mechanicals” for a fast but safe driving experience.
However, it has added torque vectoring with a double clutch to allow the rear differential to deliver torque to each rear wheel separately in low-grip conditions “so spirited driving is always fun without ever having to run up against an invasive stability control system”.
High speed downforce is enhanced by an active aero splitter at the front. As always, the Giulia gets Alfa’s multi-mode DNA system with Dynamic, Natural, Advanced Efficient(the first energy efficiency mode on any Alfa Romeo) and Racing (on high-performance versions).
Inside, the driving controls are clustered around the steering wheel, formula one style, while the infotainment system is controlled by a single knob.
The interior is lined with a mix of carbon-fibre, wood, leather and fabric for a quality feel.
In Australia, the announcement provides a slice of good news after weeks of headlines about the spending activities of FCAA former CEO Clyde Campbell.
FCAA president and CEO Pat Dougherty confirmed the Alfa Romeo Giulia was headed for Australia, saying: “With a potent blend of performance and style, the Giulia is not just an all-new player in the luxury and sports car segments, but the opening chapter of something truly special for the Alfa Romeo brand globally.
“The Alfa Romeo Giulia takes all the excitement of the 4C and 4C supercars and pairs it with the kind of impeccable design and sophistication only the Italians can deliver. It’s an instant classic, and I can’t wait to welcome it to Australia.”