What is wrong with Alfa Romeo?

When someone says Alfa Romeo, what do you think of? Is it Italian style, sophistication and a sporting heritage? Or is it breaking down, dodgy electrics and horrendous depreciation?

When AutoUX picked up our Giulia Veloce in September we had a mixture of those two thoughts. The Giulia had some marks in the paint which immediately caused some concern, but thankfully since then the car has been almost trouble free.

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The dealership itself also didn’t help with the impression. Lots of shiny surfaces and gleaming cars, but dirt and dust in the corners, coupled with your stereotypical greasy looking salesman sat in the corner. Also being paired with the other FCA brands of Jeep, Fiat and Abarth the dealership didn’t feel very focused on the Alfa Romeo buying experience.

Choosing the Alfa Romeo still felt like a gamble. Even in 2018 it’s hard to remove those fears of poor workmanship and sloppy customer service. When we realised the 3 year warranty included with the car was actually only honoured by the manufacturer for 2 years and the dealership for the 3rd year we lost even more faith.

The thing that convinced us to take the plunge though was the availability of short term leasing. We took out a two year lease which gives us the chance to try out the car, and if it’s a dud, then it’s just 24 months of pain before moving onto something else.

Alfa Romeo themselves were keen to push us onto the more traditional PCP route (Personal Contract Plan, otherwise known as a deposit, a monthly fee and then a final balloon payment to own the car). For us though, a 2 year lease was perfect, with no desire to own the car eventually, having this option taken off the table wasn’t a problem.

So what can Alfa Romeo do to help fix this brand problem? 

Well, they’re already making changes for the better – the cars themselves, specifically the Giulia and Stelvio have been built on an all new, much more focused platform, coupled with decent engines offering the horsepower to match the styling and that sporting heritage. Over $5 billion has been spent developing these cars and the reviews show it has so far been a success, with the Giula being seen a great handling sports car to rival the C-Class and 3-Series. The Stelvio is seen as a great handling, sporty SUV which rivals the Jaguar F-Pace, Land Rover Velar and Porsche Macan.

With Alfa Romeo’s planned roadmap, there are also plans for a new smaller SUV which will make the brand that much more appealing to a wider range of the public, who desire style and performance, but with a bit of extra space for the kids or a dog.

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Alfa Romeo have also realised that the warranty they were offering isn’t good enough compared to rivals. They’re now offering a 5-3-5 plan – 5 years warranty, 3 years servicing and 5 years breakdown cover.

The next thing that needs to improve is the dealerships. A less stereotypical set of sales staff would be a great start, with more women being represented. This would make the dealerships feel more welcoming and inclusive. The pairing with Fiat and Jeep makes Alfa Romeo feel less premium than it could be. Standalone, or perhaps pairing with Maserati could be worth exploring, but first the old, tired models, the MiTo and the Giulietta need to disappear. At the moment they drag the brand down, rather than lifting it up and if Alfa Romeo want to be regarded as a premium brand, bringing out more premium, all new models, or otherwise axing these two models and letting the small SUV fill their space would be a good start.

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After driving the Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce for 12 months how have our thoughts changed on the brand? Based on our local garage we’re still not confident they’re fully commited to making the change, but based on the driving feel of the Giula we’re confident if more people could test drive the range, then more people would seriously consider taking the plunge.

With the GTV and 9C on the horizon, coupled with mild electrification promising even more performance, Alfa Romeo has a very sporty future ahead, just as long as the current staff don’t dampen this latest wave of enthusiasm.

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