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The new boss of Fiat Chrysler Australia says the upcoming revolution of Alfa Romeo will see the brand compete head-to-head with the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz, with its future offerings more akin to Maserati than Alfa models of old.

Asked if he is actively working on reducing the on-road cost of the next-generation Alfa Romeo models – starting with the Giulia – FCA Australia CEO, Steve Zanlunghi, said the success of the brand will be driven by having the right product, rather than being an affordable luxury car.

“With the next generation of Alfas that are coming out, as you will see in Giulia first, I don’t think it’s more about cost but [instead] aligning ourselves with where we are going to perceive where the competition is, based on the product,” Zanlunghi said.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia (above) will be a C-Class and 3 Series competitor when it launches early in 2017.

“These Alfas that are coming out now on the Giorgio platform are like nothing you’ve ever seen. They are more comparable towards Maserati type brands, so we are going to look to come out with premium products that are priced at a premium level, in line with the competition.”

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Following the Giulia will be the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV (spied above, rendered below), which will be the second of six new models the company is planning to launch by 2020.

“Giulia is going to be a stake in the ground, as this is the next generation of what Alfa Romeo is.”

According to Zanlunghi the Giulia has already attracted pre-orders, with the Quadrifoglio variant having a great deal of appeal to enthusiasts.

“I can tell you that we have a waiting list at some of our dealerships for the initial Giulias, and that’s off the back of some customers that either, one, don’t care what the price is – which is usually what you see when you launch a hot product – or they are looking at other markets [for price comparability]”.

Asked how Alfa Romeo plans to change its perception in Australia, Zanlunghi said that it needs to be driven by the product, rather than just marketing.

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“It all starts with product, so product is king. Before you can call yourself cool, you have to have something that you can put out there that will do the speaking for you and I believe that the product that we have in the pipeline for Alfa Romeo and the reason it was initially delayed was so that we could get it absolutely spot on,” he said.

“So I think, once we have the product out there, and then we can start telling people what the product is about, I think the word will spread, but it all starts with the product.”

Alfa Romeo will go through a massive transformation next year as it seeks to compete directly with well-established German luxury brands. Its well known and established brand will no doubt help set it apart from other luxury upstarts such as Infiniti and Genesis.

MORE: Fiat Chrysler Australia announces new CEO
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