Alfa Romeo Junior (2009)

Published: 11 March 2008

These are the first pictures of the Alfa Romeo Junior, a car the Italian firm hopes will bring them the same success that BMW has enjoyed with the Mini. Based on Fiat Grande Punto underpinnings, the baby Alfa will be launched this autumn at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. Prices will start from just £10,000 when it goes on sale in spring 2009.

Hang on, the Alfa Romeo Junior is based on a Fiat Grande Punto?

Don’t despair. The Grande Punto is a reasonable drive, and Alfa’s own tweaks should refine the car still further. Expect a more sophisticated, premium feel as Alfa wants to position the car further upmarket.

A Grande Punto base should mean this baby Alfa will be spacious, though we’re expecting the Junior to be a four-seater. Apparently it’s not urban chic to carry five – both the Mini and forthcoming Audi A1 only carry four.

The Grande Punto looks pretty good. Will the Alfa look even better?

We agree. Alfas may suffer from a multitude of faults, but the cars have never been found wanting in the looks department. Through the black disguise we can see the V-shaped grille that sits low and bisects the front bumper. In profile it’s clear to see that the Alfa does without the Grande Punto’s front quarter lights (a relief – they only create blindspots in our experience).

Visible in our pictures are the chromed door handles, both inside and out. Expect the Alfa’s interior to feature the same basic layout as its sister Fiat, but with recessed dials on the dash and a sense of Italian style that Alfa hopes will surpass the Mini’s retro chic.

The rear features twin light clusters and – not the most practical set-up – a small but stylish hatch opening.

Click ‘Next’ below to read about what engines will power the Alfa Romeo Junior

Do Punto underpinnings mean Punto power for the Alfa Junior?

Oh yes. Expect the range to start with a 95bhp 1.4-litre petrol and a 130bhp 1.9-litre diesel. We’re not expecting the smaller 1.3-litre diesel to appear: this is a supermini, and an Alfa one at that.

The rest of the range will be powered by a turbocharged version of the 1.4-litre petrol. Fiat currently offers that engine in 120, 135, 155 and 178bhp forms, across the 500 and Punto ranges. There’s no word yet on which variations will appear in the Alfa, but expect the 178bhp engine to top the range.

Whether that car will be badge GTA is another matter. Rumours have been coming out of Turin that a 230bhp car could take on the Mini JCW. But whether the 1.4-litre could take the power remains to be seen: the Grande Punto Abarth SS upgrade to 178bhp only comes with a 20,000km warranty.

Will Alfa really call this car Junior?

Maybe. An internet vote was held to find a name, but the winner – Furiosa – doesn’t seem to have found much favour in Turin. We’ll find out for certain come the autumn of 2008.

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy