Our editor will be cross with me for appropriating this month’s theme in such an arbitrary manner, but the title did rather suggest itself.
Last year Alfa Romeo revealed the Giulia berlina well before it was ready, allowing damaging rumours of engineering issues and rushed development to take hold. FCA management launched the Giulia early to reassure potential investors of the robustness of Alfa Romeo’s expansion plans and to strengthen their negotiating hand in talks with General Motors. So while the reasons for its botched launch are understandable, I’m sure it’s one Marchionne regrets, given the ensuing damage to both his own and Alfa Romeo’s credibility.
With this in mind, the announcement this week that Alfa Romeo will reveal its forthcoming crossover in late Autumn caused some incredulity round these parts. Set to be to Alfa what the F-Pace is likely to be for Jaguar, the Stelvio (as it is set to be named) will sit on a modified Giulia platform and component set, Alfa Romeo chief executive, Harald Wester confirmed to journalists. This could mean a Paris reveal, or as most news outlets are suggesting, Los Angeles. Of course if Alfa Romeo’s business prospects were to be best served, this model would have preceded the Giulia, but for FCA, the decision to re-establish Alfa Romeo with a sports saloon was an emotional one aimed at securing the marque’s enthusiast fanbase before stretching credulity further.
But not so fast Mr. Wester. Recent reports of FCA chief, Sergio Marchionne turning his amorous attentions to Apple’s Tim Cook, might lead the more cynical to view this announcement as yet another plot-twist in the Marchionne gameplan. Surely the bejumpered one wouldn’t try the same ploy twice, would he? Certainly, given the Stelvio’s engineering and production basis, the production timescale is attainable – if ambitious, but only if we ignore Alfa’s track record on model introductions.
Alfa Romeo is surely too important for FCA’s future prospects to be playing fast and loose with its reputation. Because another mangled launch could tip the balance of doubt firmly against the automotive world’s knitwear enthusiast-in-chief.