To Grow, Alfa Romeo and Maserati Emphasizing Heritage, Uniqueness
Alfa Romeo and Maserati are two legendary Italian brands that even automotive laymen intrinsically recognize are exotic. But as car enthusiasts know, if you peel back the veneer things aren’t always as they seem.
Perhaps excluding their Levante SUV, Maserati’s current lineup feels old and arguably isn’t all that competitive. On the other hand, after years idling on the sidelines, North American drivers finally have a range of compelling Alfa Romeos to choose from, including the dynamite Giulia sedan and Stelvio crossover.
Still, these two Italian brands are doing battle in a cutthroat market, one all-too often dominated by rivals based in towns like Munich, Ingolstadt and Zuffenhausen. But they’re working overtime to separate themselves from competitors, to stand out from the crowd in their own Italian way.
The fundamental tactic management has implemented with both these companies focuses on passion and authenticity. “I mean, if you just look [at the styling] of the cars, even the setup and approach of the cars, it’s different DNA to its core,” said Bob Broderdorf, director of brand sales and product marketing for Alfa Romeo and Maserati North America. “I can guarantee you there’s some German guy rolling over someplace that’s like ‘We’d never do it like that!’ And we look at it the exact same way.”
Separating these brands from Teutonic competitors are several elements. Broderdorf explained, “For Maserati especially, there is a level of exclusivity and luxury that is just standard in our approach, our price points, our positioning that is very different than… the entry price points that you might find in any of the German makes.” There’s also a load of customization and individuality with these vehicles, plus the brand’s close association with Ferrari, arguably the world’s most hallowed automotive marque, pays important dividends. Additionally, all of Maserati’s products are built in Italy, giving them an air of authenticity that might be lacking elsewhere.
But if the trident brand trades on uniqueness and luxury, Alfa Romeo takes a leaner, more focused approach with its product lineup, even if it’s more apt to get cross-shopped in the process. “These are truly about being extraordinary performance cars,” said Broderdorf, adding that they may eschew certain amenities or features to deliver the purest driving experience possible. “There are certain balances where I think on Alfa there’s… no limit where we will go to deliver the ultimate road vehicle. I mean, we want that to be what the car is all about.”
Giulia and Stelvio both launched to critical acclaim, particularly in high-performance Quadrifoglio form. And really, how can you argue with 505 horsepower? The foundation for each of these laudable products is Alfa Romeo’s Giorgio platform, an architecture begging to underpin more products, though Broderdorf was coy about its future. “Right now, it delivers two extraordinary vehicles and we’ll leave it at that,” though it’s so wonderfully balanced, so exceptionally capable they’d be insane not to implement it elsewhere, and soon.
One future product he could touch on, however, is the upcoming Alfa Romeo 8C supercar, the rebirth of which was announced a few weeks back during a massive FCA event in which the automaker’s next five-year plan was laid out to media. This Italian beauty is expected to feature a carbon-fiber structure and more than 700 horsepower, enough to catapult it to 60 miles an hour in less than three seconds.
“I think it will deliver a halo for the brand that’s truly extraordinary, that everybody’s going to be talking about,” said Broderdorf. “And again, is 8C going to be for everybody? Of course not. But will it deliver a certain identity that we think needs to be in the marketplace? Without question.”
Naturally, since he gets to look behind the curtains, Broderdorf is excited about the futures of Maserati and Alfa Romeo. “For anybody coming in, what could be more exciting than to take two brands with this much history, this much heritage and have this type of future product in the works and this lineup to already work with? Not too bad,” he said.
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