Southern Italy was the location for a recent big coming-out party for revised versions of the appealing Alfa Romeo Giulia sports saloon and Stelvio SUV
The cars have just been announced for the UK and will go on sale in January next year.
What’s new? Well plenty in terms of the interior, infotainment also the upgrading of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), the Alfa duo now compatible for level 2 autonomous driving.
There’s a fresh range of colours plus new model line-up also included in this 2020 update package (which doesn’t come to the racy Quadrifoglio models until later). You won’t, however, find any mechanical changes, per se, or body revamp.
Which, when you think about it, makes sense for both the Giulia and Stelvio have scored well for style and dynamic flair since day one (essential features for any true Alfa Romeo, of course) while cabin quality has been more hit-and-miss along the way. The latter is now about to change.
Along with a new steering wheel, one small but much-needed improvement for drivers concerns…the gearshift lever. Hitherto, surprisingly low rent for a premium class car, it’s now leather-clad with luminous highlights and looks/feels so much better. Result. At the base, a small Italian flag is a cool new touch.
Alfa has put a lot of work into the sat nav + infotainment for these 2020 models. The 8.8-inch central display is now touchscreen and features an improved layout in which widgets can be moved around/adjusted to create a fully customisable homepage. As such, each of the vehicle’s functions becomes an App.
Ahead of the driver, there’s a new, more intuitive 7-inch TFT screen. Out in Italy, this came into its own, showcasing the Active Cruise Control (ACC) in action, for instance, automatically keeping the Alfa a safe distance from the car in front.
This ACC system is part of a suite of systems that allow Level 2 autonomous driving: that’s to say, the vehicle self-driving, staying in lane and so on, but you must have your hands on the wheel at all times.
Bi-Xenon headlights are now standard. So is Apple Car Play/Android Auto. At long last, a rear parking camera is standard on the Stelvio.
We also get new range structure starting with Super, then advancing to Sprint and Lusso Ti. There’s a choice of 200hp petrol or 190 hp diesel with each grade.
Out in Italy, near Bari, we drove the new top Giulia Veloce with 280 hp petrol power (or there’s a 210 hp diesel).
The Veloce is already one of the best new Alfas you can buy, blessed with a smooth, punchy 2.0-litre engine, strong performance and a really well-balanced chassis which will stay rear-wheel drive in UK trim (although AWD is available in Europe).
Alfa has improved soundproofing and lightly modified the steering to make the car both quieter and more responsive at the helm. Both combine to make the Giulia that much sweeter on the road and a compelling alternative to the usual (German) suspects.
And the new colours? Long-standing Alfa fans will remember the lovely mustardy ochre that appeared on the 1750 GTV coupe and Spider back in the ‘60s. This now gets a revival of sorts as Junior GT Ochre although some see it looking more like gold.
In Italy, a very light blue (Moonlight Pearl) has also joined the colour range, a nod to Alfa’s 1996 Nuvola show car and glorious pre-war 8C 2900B. Visconti Green is another cool shade for 2020. Hopefully, this will make it to the UK, too.
As things stand, Alfa is planning a more substantial update for both cars in 2021, the same time its eagerly awaited Tonale SUV compact is set to appear (as Alfa’s first hybrid). A smaller, junior Alfa SUV to replace the MiTO is scheduled for 2022.
Conclusion? If you’re in the market for a new Alfa Romeo Stelvio or Giulia, the news is good. The cars are now much improved inside, connectivity takes several steps up and they will catch the eye through the bright new colour range, we expect.
Prices have yet to be announced, but essentially the action all kicks off in January 2020. Enjoy!