Alfa Romeo Goes to the Extreme to Boost Sales

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Alfa Romeo rolls out the new limited-edition Giulia (left) and Stelvio Estrema models for 2023.

Alfa Romeo announced a new global limited edition for the first time Tuesday, the 2023 Alfa Romeo Giulia Estrema sedan and Stelvio Estrema SUV. The new models help fill a gaping hole in the Brand’s product lineup.

Currently, Alfa Romeo’s Giulia and Stelvio models are offered in four ascending trims: Sprint, Ti, Veloce and Quadrifoglio. The 2022 Giulia Sprint starts at a relatively affordable $43,350, with the Veloce trim starting at $48,990.

But the Ferrari-derived Giulia Quadrifoglio starts at $80,030, a difference of $31,040. It’s a similar story with the 2022 Stelvio. The entry-level Sprint trim starts at $45,550, the Veloce trim, $52,630. But it’s a $34,220 step up to the $86,850 Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

What’s the deal with Estrema?

The 2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Estrema reaches 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and wears carbon fiber exterior trim with gloss black accents.

The new Estrema models build on Alfa Romeo’s Veloce trim but add something of real value: the Alfa Active Suspension and other driving dynamics technology from the Quadrifoglio. Estrema exteriors wear carbon fiber veneer on the grille and mirror caps, and gloss black B-pillar, side window trim and alloy wheels (19-inch on Giulia Estrema, 21-inch on Stelvio Estrema.)

“Estrema models benefit from continuous dynamics and weight collaboration with Alfa Romeo’s F1 Team ORLEN to get the most out of Formula 1 know-how,” the company said, but didn’t provide any further details.

Climb inside, and you’ll get black leather sport seats and accented by a leather dash, steering wheel, center armrest, shift lever, upper door panel coverings laced with red stitching. Carbon fiber accents, similar to the Quadrifoglio trim, can be found throughout the cabin.

The 2023 Alfa Romeo Giulia Estrema gets the same treatment as its SUV sibling.

Estrema powertrain is not so extreme

Under the hood, you’ll find the all-aluminum, 2.0-liter direct-injection turbocharged engine used in Sprint, Ti, and Veloce models. Rated at 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque through an 8-speed automatic transmission, it will run 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds in the all-wheel-drive Giulia, and in 5.5 seconds in the rear-wheel-drive Giulia and all-wheel-drive Stelvio. Top speed is 149 mph.

Alfa Romeo DNA performance drive modes are standard, as is active cruise control, active blind-spot assist, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning with full stop capability. 

The new Estrema models are described as limited editions by Alfa Romeo, but the company didn’t reveal how limited.

A small presence in North America

Alfa Romeo’s limited-edition Estrema models have carbon fiber interior accents.

While Alfa Romeo may be a larger presence in some European markets, its sales in North America are small as it struggles to rebuild an identity, especially in the U.S. market.

In 2021, Alfa Romeo sold 18,240 vehicles, down 1.8% from the 18,586 vehicles it sold in 2020, including 7,634 Giulia sedans, 77 4C sports cars, and 10,539 Stelvio SUVs. If that seems meager, it did outsell fellow Stellantis brands Chrysler at 16,677 units, Maserati at 7,615 units and Fiat at 2,374 units.

A new SUV should juice sales next year

But that could change with the arrival of the 2023 Tonale SUV, the beginning of what the automaker is calling its  “Metamorfosi,” or metamorphosis, as the brand abandons internal combustion engines entirely by 2027, migrating to nothing but battery-electric vehicles.

Tonale debuts in Europe mid-year; the U.S. follows in the first quarter of 2023. The global rollout is a year behind schedule due to the COVID pandemic, the worldwide shortage of semiconductor chips, and concerns about the plug-in hybrid drivetrain which, in its initial form, didn’t deliver the expected Alfa Romeo performance.

A potent hybrid drivetrain

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale - on track
The forthcoming Alfa Romeo Tonale plug-in hybrid delivers 272 horsepower.

When it comes stateside, the Tonale will be powered by a compact 1.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder gas engine paired with a 90-kilowatt electric motor mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Offered exclusively in all-wheel drive, the gas engine drives the front axle, the electric motor the rear. Combined output is 272 horsepower, making this the most powerful version of the new Tonale that will be offered — at least for now.

There’s no word on whether Alfa will eventually introduce a Quadrifoglio package, as it does with the Stelvio and Giulia sedan, but odds are it will. The electric motor is powered by a 15.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery that provides about 30 miles of all-electric range, according to the automaker.

The new vehicle will use a heavily revised version of the similarly sized Jeep Compass platform, which itself is seeing an update for the current model year. (Jeep Renegades and Compasses are fairly popular in Italy.)

Alfa Romeo’s Estrema models fill a gaping pricing hole in the line-up.

A more robust Alfa Romeo showroom

Certainly, the addition of a luxury performance compact SUV below the Stelvio should add to the brand’s luster in the U.S., as should the new Estremo models, whose sales appeal is more incremental. Buyers can now order an Alfa Romeo Giulia Estrema and Stelvio Estrema, with deliveries expected in the third quarter of 2022.

Prices start at $55,090 for the rear-wheel drive Alfa Romeo Giulia Estrema. All-wheel drive costs an additional $2,000. Expect to pay $58,950 for the all-wheel drive Alfa Romeo Stelvio Estrema. Prices do not include options, taxes or a $1,595 destination charge.

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