Fiat Chrysler Automobiles continue to bolster its 110-year-old Alfa Romeo brand as their entry into the luxury car world. The Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV are focused on delivering an Italian experience in two of the most competitive segments in this business – compact sports sedans and compact premium SUVs.
For 2020, FCA is primed to deliver a better overall experience for the Giulia and Stelvio. To do so, they have to keep what works for these two models and improve upon what has not worked for them.
At the Iron Gate Motor Condos complex in Naperville, Illinois, FCA hosted the Midwest Automotive Media Association to discuss what has changed for 2020 over lunch and a short drive loop. I was there to absorb what I can from these changes.
The emphasis on these improvements center on customer feedback regarding the interior, the infotainment system, and to add more driver assistance technology features to these two Alfas.
To address material quality and touch points, Alfa Romeo added new leather and higher-level materials for these touch points on the interiors of the Giulia and Stelvio. That way, customers will feel that Alfa Romeo belongs in the premium brand business. There is no room for cutting corners and skimping on anything for the prices these vehicles are fetching.
The 7-inch TFT screen in-between the instrument dials is also improved. Expect improved graphics, screens for driver assistance features and updated vehicle information pages.
Infotainment-wise, Alfa Romeo will have the larger 8.8-inch touchscreen as standard across all Giulia and Stelvio models. The look and feel will be much different from widget-like graphics and additional content for drivers to look at. That includes a new set of vehicle performance pages and a new navigation screen format that is easy to understand. Firmware for this system will get regular updates over the air.
Alfa Romeo customers will see that Wi-Fi is available, as is SiriusXM – which is of no cost for the first twelve months. This system is Alfa Romeo's own infotainment suite – not driven by UConnect, which is FCA's standard.
Driver assistance technology is a hot topic in the automotive industry. Alfa Romeo addressed this by upgrading their system to Level II autonomy. These features now include a highway assist system, traffic jam assist system, traffic sign recognition, Lane Keep Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, driver attention alert, and a standard Full-speed Forward Collision Warning-Plus feature.
Other than the three new colors for 2020, the Giulia and Stelvio remain mostly unchanged outside and under the body. Quadrifoglio models still feature the Ferrari-built 505-horsepower twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6. The standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine remains the most powerful motor in its class – with 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is mated to either engine, with four-cylinder models getting the option of all-wheel-drive.
Aside from the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, I have driven my share of the other models and configurations to know that enthusiasts should be looking at this Italian duo. It drives very well and can offer a more visceral experience with the Quadrifoglio engine. However, the 2.0-liter turbo is no slouch, either. The handling mix added to the Giulia and Stelvio makes each vehicle desirable for those of us looking for a non-Teutonic experience.
The 2020 Giulia is priced from $39,345, while the Stelvio starts from $41,345.
There is something to consider when looking at an Alfa Romeo. In the luxury car space, some brands want you to base your purchase not on how much you want to pay per month. Other brands – Alfa Romeo, included – find that their new owners are more emotive when it comes to choosing their next vehicle. Therefore, the Alfa Romeo experience should be one from the heart and not the spreadsheet.
This is why the Giulia and Stelvio are relevant in our market. They are two highly competitive segments in the luxury car field, but they stand out with its design, heritage, performance, and driving experience.
By working on the interior, updating the infotainment system, and adding new driver assistance technology, the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio should be a much better emotive buy for the enthusiast and non-enthusiast alike.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicles and logistics provided by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
All photos by Randy Stern