RE: PH Footnote: Alfa's return to the top

RE: PH Footnote: Alfa's return to the top

Friday 8th December 2017

PH Footnote: Alfa's return to the top

The Italian marque is heading back to F1 circuits next year, but that's not all it's doing to get back on track...



This probably won't be the first time you've read that the DB11 was a make or break car for Aston Martin. Just as it has for almost every single one of its 104 years, the British marque has sailed extremely close to the wind in recent times, but today it's a profitable concern with a very promising future.


In fact, Aston Martin isn't just a profitable car maker. It's arguably one of the most exciting car brands on the planet, thanks to unutterably wonderful machines like the Vulcan track car and the Vantage AMR run-out specials. The DB11 is a cracker, the all-new Vantage looks extremely promising and, most notably, Aston Martin has teamed up with Red Bull and walking-talking hyper-brain Adrian Newey to build the £2.5m Valkyrie, which looks set to completely redefine the performance parameters for anything that doesn't have sponsor decals on its sides.

All this from a company that was peering over the precipice a few short years ago. To me, it demonstrates how a handful of excellent cars and a sensible business strategy can revitalise an ailing marque. But this piece isn't really about Aston Martin. It's actually about another famous old car manufacturer that has sailed extremely rough seas in recent times: Alfa Romeo.


It's been almost two decades since the marque posted a profit, but earlier this summer group CEO Sergio Marchionne predicted Alfa Romeo would sell 170,000 cars globally in 2017. That would mark a huge increase from the 73,000 units it shifted the year before, mostly thanks to the arrival of the very commendable Giulia saloon and the equally competitive Stelvio SUV.

So sales volumes look to be up. And in its latest Quadrifoglio models, Alfa Romeo has produced a pair of class-leading performance cars. On top of that it is returning to Formula 1 in 2018, albeit as a title sponsor to the back-of-the-grid Sauber team. Just like Aston Martin - which, incidentally, is making its own F1 return next season as Red Bull's title sponsor - Alfa Romeo is starting to get its mojo back.


Gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling, doesn't it? I was on the Stelvio Quadrifoglio launch in Dubai earlier this month and found myself sat opposite Alfa Romeo and Maserati engineering boss Roberto Fedeli over dinner. For the uninitiated, Fedeli is the former technical director of Ferrari, overseeing development of the 458 Speciale and the LaFerrari during a 26-year spell. Apparently, he was known as 'The Prince' back in Maranello. No wonder.

Following an 18-month stint at BMW, Fedeli moved back to Italy early last year to take the engineering reigns at Alfa and Maserati, tasked with steering them away from their relative impending crises.

Over barbecued fish and roasted vegetables he spoke candidly about a revised version of the sub-par 4C sports car, which he wants to overhaul with revised steering and suspension, and perhaps even a new engine. Alfa Romeo needs a halo car, he says, especially as it makes its return to motor racing's premier category, and an improved 4C will most likely be it. We can expect to hear more in March.


He also hinted at additional body styles for the Giulia - how about two-door Quadrifoglio, or a 510hp estate? - and a Porsche Cayenne-rivalling SUV. On a less happy note he did declare the manual gearbox to be dead, at least as far as Alfa Romeo and Maserati's performance cars are concerned. But let's not end on a downer. The most encouraging thing Fedeli said all evening was that, henceforth, his brands wouldn't even entertain bringing a new performance car to market unless he was absolutely certain it would be the very best car of its type. A very bold claim indeed. But, let's not forget, that is exactly what Alfa Romeo has just done with the Giulia and Stelvio Quadrifoglios.

Massively improved sales volumes, some genuinely brilliant cars, a return to Formula 1. But more significant than any of that is the newfound bolshy confidence, one that borders on arrogance. All of those things were unthinkable not so long ago. Alfa Romeo, like Aston Martin, looks to be back on track.

Author
Discussion

Andy665

Original Poster:

2,181 posts

159 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
Good product is nothing if not supported by good customer service and a strong dealer network

Having had to have a deposit returned on a 4C because the advertised deal was not going to be delivered upon and the lack of feedback from another dealer for a test drive on a Stelvio I fear that it may be a false dawn in the UK

Alfa Romeo in this country need to act quickly before this golden opportunity is wasted by lazy, lying and incompetent dealers

MegaCat

184 posts

71 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
I can only speak for 2 Alfa dealers, Meridien Milano in Portsmouth and Snows in Southampton. Both have been excellent in every way - I bought my car from Meridien Milano and the service I had from them puts any Audi/BMW/Jaguar/Porsche dealer to shame (never had a Merc!), I had the first Service done at Snows and even though they have just opened, they also did a great job. So maybe they are already turning the corner - at least on the South Coast.

Paracetamol

3,911 posts

175 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
.....and then the engine warning light came on 3 days and then went back to normal (see Car long term test Nov). I have no idea how Alfa will ever get past this kind of crap.

patrickgovier

55 posts

95 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
MegaCat said:
I can only speak for 2 Alfa dealers, Meridien Milano in Portsmouth and Snows in Southampton. Both have been excellent in every way - I bought my car from Meridien Milano and the service I had from them puts any Audi/BMW/Jaguar/Porsche dealer to shame (never had a Merc!), I had the first Service done at Snows and even though they have just opened, they also did a great job. So maybe they are already turning the corner - at least on the South Coast.
Also if you need an independent you can go to Autolusso in Wimborne who are excellent. There is also a thriving Alfa Romeo community in the area. Our next breakfast meet, once the winter is out of the way, is on the 7th of April at the Departure Lounge Cafe in Alton.

200Plus Club

3,971 posts

209 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
ive driven the QF and it is fabulous. i'd have one tomorrow, if i wasnt waiting to see if the 2nd hand values bomb, and if the reports/dealer complaints get better.
Am subscribed to the QF forum and one or two tales are worrying, but its a new car and some to be expected. my local dealers have them in, but no real specialists for maintenance or servicing, just the usual crew.
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Tim16V

362 posts

113 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
This is great news - very positive all round and the 2017 production leap to an estimated 170,000 units is epic.

UK sales will probably be about 5,000 in 2017 so our market is small fry in the grand scheme of things!

lord trumpton

4,727 posts

57 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
Ive always liked the ballsy engines and styling of the modern fast Alfas but alas they still seem to suffer from gremlins and catastrophic depreciation (8C aside)

I could never own one purely because I stress over little things and I feel one might push me into eternal madness from frustration with flakey build and reliability.

bilo999

40 posts

30 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
Andy665 said:
Good product is nothing if not supported by good customer service and a strong dealer network

Having had to have a deposit returned on a 4C because the advertised deal was not going to be delivered upon and the lack of feedback from another dealer for a test drive on a Stelvio I fear that it may be a false dawn in the UK

Alfa Romeo in this country need to act quickly before this golden opportunity is wasted by lazy, lying and incompetent dealers
Be interested to hear which dealer that was.....

There are a few excellent dealers and some totally awful, Alfa dealers - Alfa HQ are on the case and I can see that at the top, moves are being made - however those bad dealers also do good volume for Alfa, and due to that have become arrogant in their sales and service approach. I'm sure that you will see a big change in 18 months, by which time end customer experience and feedback of dealers will play a big part in the rebate dealers get.

bilo999

40 posts

30 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
lord trumpton said:
Ive always liked the ballsy engines and styling of the modern fast Alfas but alas they still seem to suffer from gremlins and catastrophic depreciation (8C aside)

I could never own one purely because I stress over little things and I feel one might push me into eternal madness from frustration with flakey build and reliability.
I don't think they do these days suffer from depreciation they way they used to, the German brands are worse, have you seen the massive discounts on say e.g. a C Class - and as for reliability - check out WhatCar's latest reliability survey to see where Alfa sit!

Flakey build and reliability is not a problem and better than most - its how the dealers manage things that is the problem, and that is where real improvement have to be made.

200Plus Club

3,971 posts

209 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
bilo999 said:
I don't think they do these days suffer from depreciation they way they used to, the German brands are worse, have you seen the massive discounts on say e.g. a C Class - and as for reliability - check out WhatCar's latest reliability survey to see where Alfa sit!

Flakey build and reliability is not a problem and better than most - its how the dealers manage things that is the problem, and that is where real improvement have to be made.
you can already get early QF with circa 2-5k miles for £52k on PH. if that continues i might snap one up at £40k next season :-)
hoping the prices dont crash tbh, i think they deserve a good run

underphil

847 posts

141 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
200Plus Club said:
you can already get early QF with circa 2-5k miles for £52k on PH. if that continues i might snap one up at £40k next season :-)
hoping the prices dont crash tbh, i think they deserve a good run
but you can get a same age/mileage M3 for £46K, so I can't believe the Giulia is depreciating that badly

Edited by underphil on Friday 8th December 14:57

Ruskins

185 posts

52 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
4C is well over-due a refresh. It wouldnt take much to change it from car journo pariah to golden boy status.

Just needs revised suspension and a better steering wheel.

Also regarding depreciation the cheapest 4c in the classifieds is 32K, not bad depreciation id say.

Edited by Ruskins on Friday 8th December 15:56

ian2144

1,505 posts

153 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
Having been an Alfa owner back in the 70’s , Alfetta twin cam & Sud 1500, I never had an issue with reliability...........it was The dreaded rust that killed them. The tables have turned now with little or no rust problems on Modern Alfa’s. But now with all the added electrical stuff.....they have reliability issues. IMO

AlexHat

1,171 posts

50 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
Whenever someone brings up the rustiness of Alfa's in the 70's/80's I always say to them show me a rival that didn't rust/breakdown then! All cars did to an extent, it was how the dealers got new sales hehe

Wills2

14,665 posts

106 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
Ruskins said:
4C is well over-due a refresh. It wouldnt take much to change it from car journo pariah to golden boy status.

Just needs revised suspension and a better steering wheel.

Also regarding depreciation the cheapest 4c in the classifieds is 32K, not bad depreciation id say.

Edited by Ruskins on Friday 8th December 15:56
The QF will have good residuals as the sales will be very small, even BMW only manage to sell 500 or 600 M3s a year in the UK.

Alfa will sell less than that.


dukeboy749r

611 posts

141 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
Like others have said, the dealer experience will make, or break, it for many. And in this part of Essex, it is sadly quite poor.

How many different sales people can you mention to, that it is the flagship saloon you are after, to which they don't come back, or you then get some 'new' sales person call up and say, I'I hear you're in the market for an Alfa?'

Dire. Sadly

Ares

6,152 posts

51 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
Echo most of the comments above. I've had a QV for 4 months now, it's unbelievable how good it is. A weekend in it, and each of it's competitors to assess gave the Alfa an easy win, with 4 months/5,000miles under it's wheels, it is staggering, truly.

But.....the dealers are shocking. I got mine from a dealer 100miles away, driving past a dealer 8 miles away, and at least one other. The supplying dealer was great, and has been great since.

The others were shocking. But then, all marque's dealers were shocking so maybe alfa aren't THAT far behind.

Central support is excellent though. Italian number, but UK based response is outstanding. Not had call to use fully, but when I almost did, they made BMW Emergency Services seems pedestrian.


Yipper

5,964 posts

21 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
bilo999 said:
lord trumpton said:
Ive always liked the ballsy engines and styling of the modern fast Alfas but alas they still seem to suffer from gremlins and catastrophic depreciation (8C aside)

I could never own one purely because I stress over little things and I feel one might push me into eternal madness from frustration with flakey build and reliability.
I don't think they do these days suffer from depreciation they way they used to, the German brands are worse, have you seen the massive discounts on say e.g. a C Class - and as for reliability - check out WhatCar's latest reliability survey to see where Alfa sit!

Flakey build and reliability is not a problem and better than most - its how the dealers manage things that is the problem, and that is where real improvement have to be made.
Alfa reliability remains terrible. The only brands with worse reliability today are the shonky overhyped ones, like Porsche and Land Rover.

http://www.reliabilityindex.com/manufacturer

RKBerta

2 posts

7 months

Friday 8th December 2017
quotequote all
Have been an ALFA owner since the 70s. The car I bought in 1970 was only sold 4 years ago to make garage space for my 2015 4C LE coupe. The 4C has been trouble free other than replacing one button in the interior. It has proven to be a great car. Yeah.....you can change a few things to improve it but mostly that is similar to what you would do on other cars. Coil overs, different tires, adjust wheel alignment. But other than that it is a very capable car that has proven to be bullet proof on track or street. My experience is backed up by many other 4C owners I communicate with through the 4C Forum.

I can see where a next generation version could have a bit more powerful engine, suspension tweaks as mentioned above, but really the car is already great and despite any perceived warts....it is really an awesome car. When I look back at the earlier Porsche 911s I remember them with warts but today....they are the ones people want. The latest may be "improved" but often at the expense of raw enjoyment. For that reason the 4C we have now will be the one that got the formula correct mostly and is certainly a gorgeous car. Would I get the next generation....maybe but it would take a lot to get me to upgrade at this point.

I have driven all 3 of the versions of the Giulia and it is certainly a great car but not my cup of tea. I love the 4C, Lotus Elise/Exige, and Renault A10 type of cars. And for tracking the Giulia is very expensive to run. A friend has both a 4C with lots of mods and a Giulia QV with some mods. He is a very good driver and tracks nearly every weekend at many tracks. He says that his 4C is faster on most courses and very easy on consumables like tires, brakes, etc. compared to heavier cars.

Ares

6,152 posts

51 months

Saturday 9th December 2017
quotequote all
Yipper said:
bilo999 said:
lord trumpton said:
Ive always liked the ballsy engines and styling of the modern fast Alfas but alas they still seem to suffer from gremlins and catastrophic depreciation (8C aside)

I could never own one purely because I stress over little things and I feel one might push me into eternal madness from frustration with flakey build and reliability.
I don't think they do these days suffer from depreciation they way they used to, the German brands are worse, have you seen the massive discounts on say e.g. a C Class - and as for reliability - check out WhatCar's latest reliability survey to see where Alfa sit!

Flakey build and reliability is not a problem and better than most - its how the dealers manage things that is the problem, and that is where real improvement have to be made.
Alfa reliability remains terrible. The only brands with worse reliability today are the shonky overhyped ones, like Porsche and Land Rover.

http://www.reliabilityindex.com/manufacturer
Except, that is for cars out of dealer warranty, if I'm not mistaken? And is biased towards cost of repairs/spares?

In the last What Car reliability survey (cars less than 3yrs old), Alfa place 5th, and the highest non-Japanese marque.

Tides are turning.