Tag: Alfa Romeo Giulia

What 2022 holds for the South African car market

While 2021 kicked off without much affair, albeit with mild hesitation and looming uncertainty for event planning due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it eventually gathered momentum into what many industries would deem as normal. Despite a contagious wave of Omicron ravaging the world in the last quarter, this year has commenced in a confident and assured manner which has us holding thumbs that normality will soon return. Secondary effects from the pandemic are still hampering supply chains with the automotive industry struggling to meet the demand of the semiconductor microchips needed in the increasingly technologically-oriented vehicles but despite this, new vehicles are scheduled to be introduced to our shores with launch events being planned on our local roads. Here is what Mzansi has to look forward to in 2022!

Local favorite Volkswagen will kick the year off by introducing the new Caddy and the facelifted, and locally produced, Polo and Polo GTI models which feature mild updates to a familiar silhouette and a refreshed interior which will share some similarities to the Golf. 

Speaking of the popular hatch which may have already been on sale in our market for a few months now, the all wheel drive giantslayer sibling Golf 8 R will touch down in Q2 alongside the novel Tiguan R and 7-seater Tiguan Allspace facelift.

Other facelifts expected before the midpoint of the year include the T-Roc while the all new Spanish built Taigo will join the lineup and slot between the T-Cross and Tiguan in Volkswagen’s SUV range. The remainder of the year is scheduled to be quiet with the new Polo Sedan expected in Q3 but the all-new Amarok is in the pipeline, we can expect its global launch sometime before the end of the year too. 

Another brand that has grown in popularity and portfolio over the past is that of Renault who have a bustling year ahead. The new Clio 5, which subtly evolves the exterior design language of the Clio 4, is expected as soon as Q1. Since Alpine have absorbed all RS models over the past year, we are awaiting news with bated breath if South Africa can expect a Clio or Megane RS derivative. 

While the Clio and it’s more family-orientated Captur sibling have both experienced delays of over a year due to the Covid-19 related issues. However, Q2 will see the brand new Captur SUV enter our shores.

While we are awaiting confirmed dates for the second half of the year, Renault has committed to launching the refreshed Kwid, Triber and Trafic MY22 models into the range, while anyone eager to see the Duster based Oroch single cab will be dismayed to know we will only be expecting it in 2023. 

A brand that has taken South Africa by storm is Chery after their rebirth into our market late last year. The affordable and well-specced Tiggo 4 Pro arrived in our market and was lauded for improved build quality and comfort. This resounding success has seen the Chinese brand expedite the launch of the highly awarded and much larger flagship Tiggo 8 Pro range which we can expect within Q1. 

DRIVEN Chery Tiggo 4 Pro Turbo CVT

The new Tiggo 8 Pro range will be available in two options for the consumer and both will be fitted with an award-winning 1.6 TGDI petrol-engine delivering a peak of 136kW and 290Nm. No news on whether this engine will also include the impressive 1-million-kilometer mechanical warranty just yet.

The much larger flagship SUV will continue Chery’s trend of interior luxury and technology which we sampled on the Tiggo 4 Pro. This includes an Around View Monitor, an 8-speaker SONY sound system, two high definition TFT displays (with a third in the flagship model) and dual-zone climate control with pharmaceutical grade N95 air filtration. It will also come standard as a 7 seater which should make it appealing to growing families.

2021 was a busy year for the Bavarian-based super-manufacturer but product planning for 2022 seems to be more tranquil. BMW SA will welcome the anticipated 2 Series Coupe range in Q1 which includes the 220i, 220d and M240i xDrive. While styling may divide opinion in this range once again, the M2’s ability will surely silence any critics when it lands sometime in 2023.

On the electric side of things, BMW’s 4 Series based i4 and mainstream crossover iX3 are expected to land in the second half of the year and cement themselves as viable electric models for our market. 

On the other end of the spectrum for premium German brands is Mercedes-Benz who is also hoping to be at the forefront of electrification in our local market and has their whole EQ range ready to be released. While exact dates are yet to be stated, we can expect the EQA, EQB, EQE, EQS and EQC. 

For those that still enjoy the sensation of fossil fuels burning beneath the accelerator pedal, the facelifted A-Class, B-Class, GLC SUV and CUV, S-Class and C-Class will be welcomed locally while two Maybach orientated models will arrive in the form of the S-Class and GLS. 

In terms of South Africa’s preferred form of transportation, two new bakkies will be put on sale in our market this year. Isuzu will usher in their sharper looking flagship D-Max in Q2, a model which shares a platform with the newly released Mazda BT-50 and will attempt to gain market share from the popular Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger. 

That being said, the existing and long-serving Ford Ranger will be retired for its modernized successor which is expected to be on showroom floors by Q4. The highly anticipated Ranger which shares a platform with Volkswagen’s Amarok will continue to be built in Ford’s Silverton facility and is expected to continue at the forefront of local bakkie sales. 

In terms of what the Japanese and Koreans have to offer, we can expect a substantial offering in 2022 from Hyundai. The Tucson and the futuristic looking Staria Nautica are expected in Q1 while the Staria Panel Van will arrive in Q2. The refreshed Creta is yet to be confirmed but can be realistically expected to hit sales floors in the second half of the year. 

The performance orientated branch of Hyundai will also welcome the Kona N and the lauded i30 N DCT which are expected before Q2. 

Toyota will be dabbling in performance models too when the brand new GR-86 hits our market in Q3. The souped up versions of the Corolla Cross are expected in Q1, and the Hilux will also enter our markets in Q2, both under the new GR-S guise. Q1 will also see Toyota expand their RAV4 and Corolla Quest model lineup.

Subaru on the other hand have only signalled two new models for their portfolio in 2022, the new WRX, which is steeped in rally lineage is expected in Q2, while the Forester SUV has been revised and has been on sale for the past few days already.

On the performance side of things, amorous Italian brand Alfa Romeo has received a consignment of limited edition Giulia GTA and Giulia GTAm models which feature an uprated V6 engine, Sauber engineered aero bits, roll cages, racing suits and a hefty price tag costing around R4 Million depending on the model. With only 8 of 500 coming to our shores and a handful already sold, the saloon based racecar is fast set to be an appreciating future classic.

Porsche will also be launching their track-oriented model in the form of the 911 GT3. While no dates have been confirmed, what we do know is it comes equipped with the traditional Porsche 4.0 flat-six motor which is capable of redlining at 9000rpm. 

While the GT3 model makes up few sales numbers but excites owners and pedestrians alike, Porsche will also be introducing the updated models that yield the Stuttgart automakers bread and butter; the Cayenne Turbo GT and Panamera Platinum Edition will arrive in Q2. 

Rounding out the list with what many consider the brand that epitomises passion and performance, Q2 will welcome the first ever road going V6 that adorns the Prancing Horse. While it may be the first of its kind for the famed Italian automaker, the Ferrari engine is claimed to produce the specific highest output of any production car engine. Rated at 488kW solely from its 2.9 litre displacement. 

The iconic Ferrari V12 isn’t dead however as we can expect to hear the sonorous 812 Competizione in Q3.

Some are made while others are created, the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio

Alfa Romeo is a marquee that needs no introduction, with an impressive 111 year lifespan their legacy has been cemented into the halls of fame with pedigree racers and breathtaking designs. Despite the respectable history, the famed Italian marquee has faltered somewhat over the past few decades, losing market share with an ever dwindling range of vehicles. Just over half a decade ago, Giulia and Stelvio were introduced and intended to reinvigorate the historic iconicity of the Turin based automaker. We got to spend some time on launch with their mid-life refresh to see if they could bring more success in the next half of their product cycle.

First thing is first, in typical Italian fashion models are designed to spend considerably more time in production than their competitors’ offerings. Giulia has been available since 2015 while Stelvio is one year younger. For general context, a fellow Stellantis model we recently had on test; the Fiat 500C Dolcevita has been in production since 2007 with only minor updates implemented over the years.

What this means is that the typical mass-creations from Milan, Torino and Bologna are designed to last, with their platforms being initially overengineered to accommodate updates far into the future. Inadvertently, the styling is intended to retain its aesthetic over time and is therefore minimal, timeless and without excess. While I think the designers at Centro Stile Alfa Romeo were restrained in unleashing a truly captivating and unmistakable Italian design a few years ago, what has nevertheless resulted are two pretty contenders in the D-SUV and D-Saloon segment that still look as good as the day they were birthed to the world. 

To that extent, not much has changed with the exterior styling other than the addition of a few new paint swatches which includes the envy-inducing Visconti Green and standard circular shaped alloy wheels. Giulia’s front end details have also been altered ever so slightly with a gloss black sheath fitted in the scudetto grille while Stelvio has stayed identical from before save from updated 20” alloys. 

Alfa Romeo astutely comes all in with their range so the list price of R989 900 for the Giulia Veloce and R1 159 900 for the Stelvio Super includes all the bells and whistles a premium vehicle should have. Both models are identically equipped with tech and safety, the only significant difference being the Q4 all-wheel drive system on Stelvio. 

What this considerable sum of money gets you is a dashboard integrated 8.8” infotainment screen surrounded by a wealthy amount of soft touch leather, a 7” colour TFT instrument cluster flanked by a scoped analog tachometer and speedometer, Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto screen mirroring via cable, leather front seats with electric adjustment, a small reverse camera and fixed aluminium paddle shifters that are tactile to the touch.

Giulia also comes standard with fresher looking Bi-Xenon headlights and DRL’s, no more halogen reflectors on base-spec derivatives since there are no more base-spec derivatives, this is something the brand is proud of. All in remember? A 5 year/100 000km full warranty and maintenance plan is standard for anyone that has their doubts on ill reliability.

The interior of Stelvio feels more premium with material use despite Giulia sharing a similar aesthetic albeit in a much lower, sport-inspired seating position. This sums up the packages adequately since the Alfa Romeo SUV ticks all the boxes in the comfort and luxury department while the saloon has a much more exciting, driver orientated appeal to it. 

The updates to the infotainment system are the biggest improvement to the 2021 models, with widget based functionality coupled alongside screen mirroring. Operation is logically laid out and modernises the UX with expected current generation usability. A coloured 7” TFT instrument cluster has now been incorporated alongside the timeless analog dials making all displayed  information behind the steering wheel much more prominent. You also get wireless charging in a mostly-concealed compartment beneath the armrest too which is ideal for prying eyes into the cabin. 

In comparison to its competitors, the reverse camera is the one let down which is minutely displayed on a quadrant of the already small infotainment screen through a less than desirable camera. However where other brands are continually in search of different ways of improving interacting with the on board systems, Alfa Romeo have opted for an old school rotary dial in-front of the gear shifter for the infotainment screen and steering mounted buttons to control the TFT instrument cluster. Modern day haptic surfaces and touch screens for every conceivable feature don’t always cut it for me, traditional buttons are still far more satisfying and rewarding to the touch. 

All of this is justified in a statement made from the current Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato who insists that the cars must remain “driver centered” reiterating that i-Pad festooned interiors are not the future of the brand. Relief for the few consumers who enjoy the no-fuss- driving approach which is devoid of soon-to-be-outdated user interfaces displayed on screens spanning the length of the cockpit. 

As with most releases in the premium segments, the more affordable yet equally luxurious derivatives always live in the shadow of their high performance siblings. The Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde was no different which immediately dominated the Nordschleife at the Nurburgring and became the fastest 4 door production sedan to lap the circuit at the time. This took all the shine away from the impressive all-aluminum 2 litre turbocharged motor that sufficiently and comfortably propels both Super SUV and Veloce saloon forward. 

The motor in the 2021 derivatives is exactly the same as before but more compliant with emission regulations. The same 206kW and 400Nm from the four-cylinder are still readily available under the right pedal and delivered through an 8 speed ZF gearbox to either the rear wheels of Giulia or all four corners of Stelvio through a carbon fiber prop shaft.

There is an ongoing theme of weight reduction for the heavier drivetrain components that Alfa Romeo has continuously followed. Aluminium and carbon fiber are notoriously structural but lightweight materials in their application so Giulia expectedly tips the scales at a feathery 1429kg while Stelvio, with the Q4 system comes in at a respectable 1660kg. To put it into context, a comparable Jaguar F-Pace comes in at 1775kg – or the equivalent difference of a rugby prop the day after Christmas lunch. The results in terms of comfort and performance are noticeable. 

Not only can you experience a nippy 0-100 sprint time of 5.7 seconds in both derivatives but also achieve a claimed economy of around 8.4l/100km, which is fairly frugal in the premium D-Segment. The sensation of the direct steering probably won’t allow that though as it inspires enthusiastic driving confidence, particularly in roads with sequences of corners. 

The Q4 system of Stelvio is commendable in its application, its performance is highly regarded as it simply does not feel as top-heavy or bulky as a typical SUV in its segment. It confidently plants itself around high speed corners while momentary understeer in tight hairpins is mitigated through its all-wheel drive system. It is after all based on the same Giorgio platform as the athletic Giulia and Giulia QV. 

Speaking of which, Giulia has received revised rear suspension which still achieves Alfa Romeo’s ideal 50/50 weight distribution. The improvements keep it more planted than before and make the entire driving experience highly interactive and rewarding. For those of us that really relish the drive, this premium saloon will not disappoint. 

The different driving modes of the dna toggle are all well suited to their functions with much snappier gearshifts and throttle response in dynamic mode. While the majority of the journey was spent thrashing the motor to redline in this setting, both other modes were plush and comfortable, still capable of commanding power and downshifting the ZF gearbox to overtake slow moving traffic on single lane country roads.

The host of updates to the 2021 model year has also been implemented in the 375kW Giulia QV and Stelvio Q which are powered by the Ferrari derived 2.9l V6. Giulia QV will set you back R1 599 900 while the family hauling all-wheel drive Stelvio Q will come in at R1 749 900. Both models can now also be finished in Ocra GT, which pays homage to some of Alfa Romeo’s yellow colour swatches from the 1970s. 

With recent news of the 500 limited edition Sauber co-developed Giulia GTA and GTAm (modificata) selling out globally, 8 are rumored to be entering our shores. A high number considering our local sales numbers are less than that for standard stock, reaffirming that the brand is still very much locally adored by enthusiasts and Alfisti alike. 

Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm images shot by Daniela Pirnbaum for @alfattitude

The return of the Gran Turismo Alleggerita (alleggerita – Italian for lightweight) icon adds power and drops 100kg of weight from the standard QV model. The 2.9l V6 biturbo has been bumped up to 390kW and 600Nm while the back seats of the GTAm have been replaced with a half cage and full carbon fibre bucket seats and racing harnesses keep the driver and passenger at bay. Externally, an adjustable Sauber front and rear aero kit improves downforce while a massive adjustable rear wing features on the GTAm. The GTA includes 4 seats while the rear spoiler and splitter have been optimised for daily use on the road. This will also be the first saloon to feature centre-locking wheels as standard. 

The lucky local clientele of the eye watering list price of R3 999 900 for the GTA and R4 299 900 for GTAm also receive a personalized experience package during the  sales process which also includes a kit comprising a custom GTA liveried Bell helmet, an Alpinestars race suit, helmet and shoes while the car receives a personalized wool cover. 

With no immediate plans to extend the lifespan of the dynamic Giorgio platform after emerging in the new era of the Stellantis automobile group, this may also be the last traditional Internal Combustion Engine powered Alfa Romeo saloon the world will receive considering an all-electric future. The seductive Tonale Compact SUV concept looks set to carry the predominant sales of the brand in the coming years as an electrified flagship. It may be over 6 years on from their initial release, but the Giulia Veloce and Stelvio Super are more recommendable than ever. They’ve been in the market for half a decade now which means that they are not brand new in shape but have proven the brands improved reliability, despite initial concerns from naysayers and critics. While sales numbers are a fraction of the competitors, one must not forget that Alfa Romeo is not a numbers brand but a brand more focused on driving passion and feeling. Their sporting dna and driver focused ergonomics nullify the slightly less equipped technological features. For those that enjoy being in command of the metal, glass and rubber machines that bring us closer to the places and people we love, these are cars that will captivate from first glance. In Giulia or Stelvio, you may even find yourself grinning from ear to ear until you have arrived at your destination.