Alfa Romeo, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ premium brand, has taken some heat for the interiors of the two big products with which it has tried to lead a U.S. revival: the Giulia sport sedan and Stelvio compact SUV. Universally praised for their amazing driving dynamics and almost as universally praised for their seductive, curvaceous styling, they were generally panned when it came to spending any length of time inside them. Neither is a big vehicle, and packaging was somewhat challenging, but the biggest issues were material quality and up-to-date technology. Specifically, there wasn’t a lot of either one.
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Fast-forward to the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show and Alfa Romeo has introduced refreshed versions of these models, the 2020 Giulia and 2020 Stelvio. No, they don’t really look all that different. The exterior changes have been limited mostly to new paint hues, a package that turns all the trim body color, or one that turns all the trim black. And that’s fine — neither the Giulia nor the Stelvio needed help in the styling department. They have been and still are some of the most beautifully styled premium vehicles on the market. The problems were all inside these models, with switches that felt cheap and flimsy, trim that didn’t feel worth the tens of thousands of dollars that Alfa was charging, and multimedia screens that looked grainy, with graphics and interfaces that felt two generations behind the times.
Not anymore. Big efforts were made to update the interior materials, to great success. An Alfa Romeo spokesperson told me that everything you can touch inside has been updated, and the feel is wonderful. Alfa still offers a few interesting color combinations too, if you opt for Sport trim packages, giving you two-tone interiors or optional stitching done in Italian flag colors. In fact, il Tricolore itself graces the center console on all models, right below the shifter, in a bit of Italian pride.
The other interior news is the update Alfa made to the multimedia system. Gone is the old controller-based, menu-style system that used an oddly dark and grainy polarized screen, and in its place is a new 8.8-inch touchscreen system that’s fully modern. Interestingly, it does not appear to be a variation of the ubiquitous Chrysler Uconnect system that appears in just about every other FCA product from Ram to Maserati, but a unique system we haven’t seen before. It can be operated via touchscreen or the rotary knob controller low on the center console, and it appears to be clear, easy to use and responsive, but we’ll reserve final judgement for when we’re behind the wheel of a moving version of the Giulia or Stelvio.
It’ll be easier to use that system when you’re moving thanks to the other big update for 2020, the inclusion of a bunch of new semi-autonomous driving aids and electronic safety systems. The Alfas get an optional upgrade to Level 2 autonomy in an Advanced Driver Assistance Package that comes with traffic jam assist, automatic cruise control, lane-keeping and departure warning, and more. Yes, Alfa has finally graced its mainstream sedan and SUV with systems that’ve been available for years on lesser brand vehicles, but better late than never.
Whether these new advancements will move the needle on Alfa sales in the U.S. remains to be seen, but it’s certain that nothing was going to improve without these updates. We’re looking forward to the sublime driving experience this duo provides, now augmented by systems meant to work better than before.
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- The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Finished Fifth in Our Challenge, But I Still Love It
- 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Video Review
- 2018-2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio: Recall Alert
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