Busy times at Alfa Romeo. With the brand under the microscope as never before, and the prickly issue of collaboration with Chrysler and Lancia raising its ugly head, Alfa is desperate to reassert its role within the Fiat Group.
Chief executive Sergio Marchionne last month spelled out a skeletal plan for Alfa Romeo’s turnaround with seven new models by 2014 and today we can flesh out some of the detail. And there’s plenty of change: as well as the 147-replacing Giulietta, there’s a 159-replacing Giulia, two crossovers and a new convertible sports car all publicly committed to. Here’s what we know so far.
2010: Alfa Romeo Giulietta
The new 147-replacing five-door hatchback, that’ll take the fight to the VW Golf and Ford Focus. We've heard this argument before, of course, but guess what? It’s really very good, enough to make it the best, no-excuse Alfa in generations. Read our first drive here.
2012: Alfa Romeo Giulia
Replacing the 159, the Giulia arrives in 2012 and spearheads the brand’s return to the US market by 2013, Marchionne has pledged. Saloon and estate versions of this 3-series rival are planned, based on a widened and longer version of the hardware powering the Giulietta. And although the Giulia name might be traditional, the shape of Alfa's new compact exec will be decidedly modern. Alfa has ambitions to sell 100,000 Giulias a year; not far off Mito and Giulietta production levels.
La nuova Giulia uses a stretched architecture from Fiat’s C/D segment. That brings a McPherson strut front axle and a new twin-link rear suspension; front- and four-wheel drive will be available. MultiAir spreads to V6 petrol engines, while a GTA model is in the works: a 300bhp 3.0-litre V6 mated to Q4 all-wheel drive and a seven-speed twin-clutch ’box.
2012: Facelifted Alfa Romeo Mito
The Mito will be facelifted for 2012, the new planning documents confirm, while a five-door Mito version is added in 2013 – that model will launch Alfa into the growing US market for small cars.
2012: Alfa Romeo compact SUV
The Chrysler partnership will spawn a new mid-sized SUV due to be launched in 2012. Sold – and built – in the US, but European sales are due too. Modelled loosely after the 2003 Alfa Romeo Kamal 4x4 concept, the new soft-roader may share much of its hardware with the Dodge Journey.
2013: Alfa Romeo Spider
Marchionne has confirmed there will be a new Spider. Likely to be based on a rear-wheel drive platform from Chrysler, but it's as yet undecided where it will be built. CAR understands that Alfa Romeo has toyed with the idea of showing a special concept car this year to mark its centenary; big celebrations are planned at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed and Pebble Beach.
One plan - since ditched - was to show a stripped-out 8C supercar for the anniversary. Another new option is to show an ideas car, dubbed by one source in Turin as a 4C concept to pave the way for the next Spider sports car.
Where the 8C supercar is epically retro and archly top-end, with its composite construction and Ferrari-sourced V8, the 4C would be a compact, lighter sports car powered by a 250bhp four-cylinder engine. Twin-clutch transmissions are likely. At this stage, only a Spider has been mentioned on Marchionne’s plan, but a tin-top coupe would be very easy to serve up.
2014: Alfa Romeo SUV
A full-size SUV will be based on a Chrysler group 4x4. For the US and Europe, but expect more sales Stateside.
2014: Alfa Romeo Giulietta facelift
Coincides with its launch in the US.
So Alfa’s trimming back its coupé range?
Yes. Today’s Brera and Spider will be axed in summer 2011, while the four-seater GT will be killed at the end of 2010. Marchionne remains fully committed to Alfa Romeo, despite disappointing sales that only narrowly broke into six figures in 2009. ‘We believe in the Alfa name and market position and are determined to transform it into a full-liner premium brand.’
We know that plenty of Alfisti will be hoping that he's the man who can - finally - make Alfa Romeo a great car brand again.