It's a horrible design for a shifter... like a joystick, it returns to centre after each change, so unlike every other kind of gear lever, it doesn't give the driver any tactile feedback about its current state.. if you want to know what mode the drive is in, you have to look at the indicator on the lever, or the indicator in the dash cluster.
Compare to a manual (or a standard four position auto lever) where you can confirm what gear you're in by quickly reaching down to the shift lever. This design makes it very easy to think you've put it into park, when you may have actually selected neutral. And yes, in my experience, American drivers don't use the 'handbrake' (I remember on one US trip, I drove a couple of American colleagues out to lunch, and one remarked on me using the 'parking brake' when we arrived at the restaurant)
The design was originally from ZF Friedrichshafen, FCA's transmission technology supplier, and it's been used on BMW cars too. In response to customer feedback, FCA replaced this control with a more natural "four-position plus tip-shift gate" lever last year.
Giulia will have the same ZF 8-speed transmission, but it uses a standard lever to control it. Just like the joystick, there's no mechanical link between the lever and the box, but the lever doesn't leave you second guessing as you park up.