Alfa Romeo to Revive Classic Giulia Name for New Sports Sedan
By Andy Bannister
Facing poor sales for its current line-up yet big expectations from its Fiat parent, Alfa Romeo has plans to resurrect an old name from the past to help kick-start a drive for bigger global sales.
A scheme to reintroduce Giulia, a name used on the company’s staple saloon range from 1962 to 1978 and also applied to some pretty coupes and spiders, should signal the end of the current numerical model policy used by the Italian manufacturer, one of the two prestige arms of Fiat (the other is Lancia).
The company has already unveiled a slightly contrived new name, Mito (inspired by combining the first syllables of the cities of Milan and Torino), for its newest model, a Mini rival, but Giulia is the first of Alfa’s historic monikers set for revival.
Reports suggest it will be used on the successor to the BMW 3-series rivalling 159 saloon. Despite many plaudits the 159 has been a big disappointment for the Italians. It hasn’t sold as well as its predecessor, the 156, and its mainly Saab-developed platform (a legacy of the doomed Fiat-GM Europe partnership a few years ago) is both heavy and expensive to build.
Although still a relatively new design by normal Alfa Romeo standards, the 159 – available as a station wagon as well as a saloon – seems set for an early grave, with the new model possibly being introduced as early as 2010.
The Giulia and its smaller hatchback brother, currently being descrbed as the 149 but likely also to get a name, will spearhead Alfa Romeo’s return to the United States. Both designs also need to both much better in Alfa Romeo’s main European markets outside Italy, such as Germany, France and Great Britain.
Perceived poor quality and reliability – confirmed in a number of consumer surveys – still hamper the reputation of the brand but Alfa Romeo management are trying hard to combat this, retraining staff and getting tougher with suppliers.
The Giulia is likely to have the family looks of thebeautiful 8C Competizione, already adapted for the Mito. This signals a return to form for Alfa Romeo styling, which stagnated a little with the 159.
The choice of the Giulia name (pronounced Julia) seems an auspicious one, as the car was one of the company’s most successful and best-loved models, being a staple of the Italian highway for nearly two decades
Back in the early 1960s Alfa Romeo was one of the first manufacturers to put a powerful engine in a lightweight car for mass production. With light alloy engines from 1300cc to 200occ, all Giulias – except for a feeble diesel introduced when the design was in its dotage – were fast grand tourers.
Despite featuring notably squared-off looks which were widely copied, they were also some of the most aerodynamic cars of their day and had an aura of magic which the company has struggled to recreate in recent years, when both Alfas and Lancias have been spun-off various humble Fiat platforms.
If the Giulia name is well recieved, other classic Alfa Romeo names from the past such as Giulietta and Alfetta could be the next to be dusted off.
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