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Alfa Romeo committed to Giulia despite slowing sedan sales

The revised Giulia looks no different from the outside, but has more equipment and standard safety to boost its appeal.

Alfa Romeo believes its leaner, more valued-packed Giulia mid-size luxury sedan will be a better competitor against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, but will not be drawn on sales expectations.

For the first 10 months of the year, Alfa Romeo has racked up just 142 sales of its Giulia sedan – albeit while it is in runout and during a global pandemic – which is down 44.3 per cent over the same period last year.

For comparison, the Audi A4 has been more than four times as popular with 651 sales (down 37.8%), while the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class are clear segment leaders with 2643 (+4.8%) and 2516 (-56.4%) respectively.

However, each of the aforementioned German models can also be had in a wagon bodystyle, whereas the Giulia is strictly a four-door-only proposition.

With Alfa commanding just a 1.4 per cent market share of the over $60,000 medium car segment, the Italian brand is also currently trailing the likes of the Jaguar XE, Lexus IS and Volvo S60, but slightly ahead of relative newcomer Genesis G70.

Since launching locally in early 2017, the best year-end tally notched by the Giulia has been 639 units in its debut year, with sales sliding each year to just 303 in 2019.

Alfa Romeo Australia refused to answer any questions regarding sales hopes of the refreshed Giulia, but the brand’s director of product strategy Guillaume Drelon told media there will be room for the sedan going forward.

“Obviously in the Australia market, pretty much 50 per cent of the market is now SUVs, and passenger cars are definitely declining, and will keep declining,” he said.

“When you look at Alfa Romeo, I believe that we have a great, more than anyone else, credentials in sedans.

“I think that even if it becomes an absolute niche with a couple of thousands of cars in Australia, we still have our place there.”

To try and capture more of a mainstream audience, Alfa Romeo has cut its Giulia range from four grades to three, each adding more value with more standard equipment and advanced safety technology.

Now standard across the Giulia range is autonomous emergency braking (AEB), front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition, reversing camera and tyre pressure monitoring, which Mr Drelon said will better position it against the big three German rivals.

“One thing we’ve been looking at is what is the positioning, on that regard (safety specification), on the competition,” he said.

“And when you sum up the entire list of those driving assistance systems, we bring that standard on the Giulia, and that’s not necessarily the case for the competition.

“That’s where we believe we brought something really strong in terms of product packaging.”

Likewise, customer feedback has led to more equipment being added as standard on the new base Sport variant, such as 19-inch wheels, heated front seats and steering wheel, wireless smartphone charger, satellite navigation and leather interior.

“That’s the way we approach it, and overall, what we get to, is an improvement in competitiveness against the Germans, and that’s where we thinking we can really be a serious contender,” Mr Drelon said.

For reference, the MY20 Giulia launching this month kicks off at $63,950 before on-road costs for the entry-level Sport grade, moves up to $71,450 for the Veloce and tops out at $138,950 for the Quadrifoglio.

Also launching with the new car is a new marketing campaign that will highlight the Giulia’s Italian heritage to differentiate it from rivals spearheaded by former Holden light-commercial vehicle marketing boss Andre Scott, who joined Alfa Romeo earlier this year as senior marketing manager.