Alfa Romeo Flagship Underpinned by Maserati? Yes, Please!

Alfa Romeo has millions of ‘adepts’ around the world, having built some of the best looking and best to drive cars in automotive history. Their sporting heritage, design prowess and great name have already assured them an important place the hierarchy of carmakers, but in recent years, their slow-yet-steady downfall has become obvious. Now, they only make two models, the MiTo (which is not even that pretty), and the Giulietta, which is not selling as well as they had hoped, except in Italy, where they are fairly common.
Since they stopped production of the 159, which was a mediocre car, saved by its looks, their range has been very limited, an aspect which has also undoubtedly affected sales of their two models, as buyers didn`t have anything to aspire to. Perhaps some would have liked the 159 to stay in production, at least for a few more years, and Alfa could have given it a mild facelift, as well as some mechanical updates, in order to make it more competitive, in a market sector where all its rivals are unbelievably good, for the price bracket.

However, we have to go further back in time to find an even more luxurious (and larger) Alfa Romeo – the 166, which was taken out of production in 2007. That was the last proper executive car made by the Italian automaker, and if we are to believe owner reports, it was actually a very competent car, and it was actually a better car than the 159, despite being ‘of the previous generation’, with the 156 and 147. Still, ever since it was taken out of production, in 2007, there has been a huge void in Alfa’s range.

Now, Sergio Marchionne has announced that after the new models launched by Maserati, the new Quattroporte, and the smaller and soon-to-be-launched Ghibli, become profitable, a Maserati-derived rear-wheel driven platform will be used to underpin Alfa Romeo’s future range-topping executive offering, which internally is called ‘Progetto 941’. It would mark their reentry into the serious end of the executive car market, and with the desirable badge, rear-wheel drive, and predictably excellent styling (this is an Alfa, after all), it is very likely to make a dent in the sales of German exec saloons.

No time frame has been given for its introduction, and even its conception is currently in question, as they don`t really know (yet) whether or not the new Quattroporte and the Ghibli that will follow it are actually going to achieve their projected sales figures. However, before they even start considering this flagship model, which will definitely be rear-wheel driven, they must launch the Giulia, a mode to sit between the Giulietta and this hypothetical flagship.

It has been delayed so many times that I am starting to doubt it it altogether. I`m not even going to bother mentioning the launch dates that have been speculated over the last few months, as it has become apparent that they are completely irrelevant. With rumors as wild as the Giulia getting a tri-turbo V6 engine and rear-wheel drive (which is highly unlikely, by the way), it is not worth anybody’s time until we hear it out of Marchionne’s mouth!

Alfa Romeo needs a larger range of cars, fast, and it is curious how they are postponing everything. No Giulia so far, despite the fact that it was supposed to be shown in one form or another, in 2012, which is now drawing to a close, and the flagship is at least three-to-five years in the future. The MiTo is already aging, and needs a refresh, as is the Giulietta. The people behind the brand’s planning don`t really seem to know what they are doing, because they are either not realizing the full potential of the Alfa Romeo badge, which does make cars sell, a lot more than the Lancia badge, for instance.

They seem to be deliberately holding work back, and postponing the cars on purpose. I don`t really understand why, as they have big plans for the brand, the biggest and most important of which is the re-introduction onto the US market, where they are seen as ‘exotic’ and ‘sporty’, and, following in the footsteps of another Italian car which did well in the States, the Fiat 500, anything they would ship over to the US would sell well, given that it is of decent quality, and even the current two-car range is just that – decent.

The Alfa Romeo saga continues, and even after reading all this you are not in any way better-informed, in fact, you may even be more confused than before. However, this is how they like to do things at Alfa Romeo, so I have adapted it into a style of writing – saying a lot, giving information, speculating, but not really saying anything or giving out any real information. This editorial contains most of what has been written about the brand in the last several months, yet I truly hope that we will have more to write about in the coming months, as it has been dragging on for far too long, without any palpable result.

They need this flagship, badly, but they need the Giulia even more, so once the latter comes about, we can start seriously talking about the Maserati-underpinned large exec, which, at least on paper, has all the right ingredients to get Alfa Romeo back into the spotlight.
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