Alfa Romeo’s First EV Lands In 2024 But The Brand Still Has No Idea How It Will Sound
After a slow start, Alfa Romeo’s electric masterplan is gathering pace as it prepares to sell only battery electric vehicles from 2028.
The company has already revealed the 2023 Tonale, which is the brand’s first car available with hybrid power, but the real step forward happens in 2024. That’s when Alfa reveals the Tonale’s little brother, which will offer both ICE and a fully electric powertrains for the first time, and could be named the Brennero. And from that point forwards it’s EV or, quite literally, bust.
When the all-new Giulia lands in 2025 it will do so without a combustion engine in sight. That’s right, Alfa is bravely taking on the mighty BMW 3-Series with nothing but EV powertrains, though the car that will be the brand’s first EV in North America will be available with different combinations of single- and dual-motor options to create a range hierarchy, potentially including a flagship Quadrifoglio variant.
2025 Giulia and 2026 Stelvio will switch to Stellantis’s new STLA Large dedicated EV platform
To make that happen, the Giulia, followed by the Stelvio SUV, which will also be replaced by an EV-only model in 2026, switches from the current Giorgio platform to the STLA Large electric vehicle platform developed by parent company Stellantis. The architecture is designed with all-wheel drive capability and could offer up to 497 miles (800 km) of driving range, with the chance to add 20 miles (32 km) more with every minute spent hooked up to a charger.
Technically, it should be a knockout. The bit Alfa is struggling with, Alfa Romeo North America boss and Alfa Senior VP, Larry Dominique, told us during a recent interview, is the same thing many carmakers are struggling with as they transition to electric power: how should this new generation of electric cars sound?
That’s particularly important to the brand, though not necessarily because every current Alfa sounds like a Ferrari V12, or even like an old Alfa Busso V6. The Stelvio and Giulia Quadrifoglio sound pretty fruity, but there’s nothing that special about the noise the basic four-cylinder cars make.
But Alfa sees itself, and is seen by its customers, as a brand with soul, and as Stellantis’s sporty brand it has to work out what that means in the electric age.
2023 Tonale is Alfa’s first hybrid-available vehicle, but every new car from 2025 will be a BEV
“We refer to Alfa Romeo as reinventing sportiness for the 21st Century,” Dominique told us. “And the first thing we’re doing as we’re developing this future generation of battery electric cars is asking ourselves what a vehicle has to deliver in terms of beauty and performance to be an Alfa Romeo.”
Nailing the visual side of that beauty component, and coming up with the correct amount of accelerative force to make good on the performance angle probably isn’t that hard. But what about the audible beauty, the soundtrack to go with the kick in the back, or even just the startup noise? That’s proving tougher.
“There are regulatory requirements on sound, which is fine,” says Dominique, who was heading up Peugeot’s return to America before Stellantis changed its mind over the brand’s U.S. comeback and he was installed at Alfa. “But we’re still discussing and haven’t yet defined what it means to be an Alfa Romeo from a sound point of view.”
“There are several cars that, if you were standing on the corner and one drove by, you wouldn’t have to look at it, you know what kind of car it is,” Dominique added. “I’ve lived with that, and I understand it as an engineer. When you’re in a Quadrifoglio and the exhaust changes when you go to Dynamic mode, that’s something we already do.”
Current Giulia and Stelvio get minor facelift in 2024 before replacement in 2025 and 2026
With electric cars though, the slate is almost too clean, because you can do literally anything. Do you try to copy the sound of a classic combustion engine, or create a brand new signature sound? Should each model line have its own unique noise, and how do you distinguish between regular and performance models beyond just increasing the volume? And should any new Spider play Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs Robinson on endless repeat?
Alfa CEO, Jean-Philippe Imparato, has already said he doesn’t want anything fake in his company’s car’s but hinted to journalists that engineers are working on adding vibrations as well as noises to excite customers’ senses.
“It’s important, and we’re still working on it,” says Dominique.
How do you think an all-electric Alfa Romeo should sound? And of the currently available electric cars, who’s got the sound right, and who is in desperate need of a remix? Leave a comment and let us know.