Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato recently spoke about the future of their cars remaining driver centric and not following the “Hyperscreen” trend of its competitors. Translated from French, he explained: “The driver in the centre, as few screens as possible in the car… I don’t sell an iPad with a car around it, I sell an Alfa Romeo.” With these words it is comforting to know that despite the inevitable switch to fully electric, Alfa are still insistent on retaining their unique identity as a driver’s car. How that will eventually pan out is anyone’s guess, but as we sit in eager anticipation of their next announcement, here are 5 things that I would like to see from the next Alfa Romeos.
1. Physical controls (with the exception of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto)
I’ve said several times before that I do not agree with having touch controls in a car for the majority of things such as climate control. The only exception to this are systems such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which were specifically designed to take minimal focus away from the driver. For everything else however, tactility and a low requirement for accuracy are essential ergonomic designs for any driver which is why Jean-Philippe Imparato’s recent comments are very comforting. It shows that Alfa Romeo still care more about the driving experience than chasing after trends like large touchscreen displays and “Hyperscreen” like instruments.
For the driving enthusiast, a physical connection with the car is central to the driving experience as is the ability to make the car feel like an extension of the driver’s body. Touch controls which cannot be operated by feel and require visual identification are simply the opposite to this.
2. None of that rubberised stuff (unless it won’t turn sticky)
One of the saddest things about a lot of premium cars is that the rubberised coatings they tend to use on the interior almost always degrades into a sticky mess over time. Especially in this part of the world where temperatures are generally higher on average, it is a particular sticking point (pun intended) that plagues these otherwise wonderful machines.
I get that the idea is to give off a more premium feel but I would much rather accept other alternatives such as leather wrapping or even good quality plastics in place of rubberised coatings if it would greatly extend the longevity of the interior. Not to mention resale value.
3. Not an SUV/Crossover
Yes, SUVs and Crossovers are what the market wants right now, I get that. But this is Alfa Romeo we’re talking about, and we already have the Stelvio and will (soon?) have the Tonale. It’s time we bring back the fun yet practical hatchback or executive subcompact to the Alfa Romeo line-up to not only help boost production numbers but also allow more people to discover and fall in love with what an Alfa Romeo really is.
4. Rear wheel drive
I won’t blame you if you don’t, I understand the merits of front wheel drive especially for the non-enthusiast market. I also know I have to accept that platform sharing will limit design choices, but a part of me still hopes you can find a way to get that power to the rear wheels. Please.
5. An entry level model
Face it Alfa, you need the numbers. I get that you’d like to see yourself as a luxury sports brand and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you’ve also never been strictly luxury. Premium yes, but not strictly luxury. Many people including myself do want to buy your cars, but a lot of us just simply can’t justify or properly afford the entry point of your current range. We don’t need all of that fancy tech and high polish finish that comes on your flagship models, we just want a car that embodies what Alfa stands for which is pure driving passion. Please allow more of us driving enthusiasts to buy your cars, we’re the ones who can truly appreciate how you make them.
So that’s my wish list though I don’t have much confidence they will all be fulfilled, especially that last one. Would be amazing if they did though. I’d love to hear if you agree with me and what other things you’d like to see in the next Alfas. Please let me know in the comments below.