Alfa Romeo boss hints at F1-inspired supercar for 2023

Published: 29 July 2022

F1-inspired Alfa Romeo supercar planned
Announced next year, on sale mid-decade
Set to bid farewell to twin-turbo V6

The CEO of Alfa Romeo, Jean-Philippe Imparato, has given further hints about the upcoming Alfa supercar revealed by CAR magazine earlier this week. In an interview with media following the Stellantis financial results yesterday, he told reporters the manufacturer would show ‘a very exciting, very selective, very expensive’ sports car in the first half of 2023.

His comments ramp up excitement in the new Alfa Romeo supercar – seen as a swansong for its brilliant twin-turbo V6 engine and to take a flavour of its Formula 1 team onto the road.

The project is expected to see the light of day as a design study next year, with a low-volume production car to follow before 2025 – if sufficient Alfisti put their money down.

A dream that comes from the top

Brand CEO Imparato is determined to deliver some Alfa Romeo halo cars. ‘I absolutely have two dreams: 33 Stradale and Dueto,’ he told CAR back in January 2022.

‘If one day, I’m able to say okay, “Alfa Romeo is secure now”. [Then] Dueto and 33 Stradale are my favourite options for the future. I would like to bring [them] onto the market. We can dream.’

CAR has already scooped the electric Dueto – a successor to the famed 1960s Spider – one of 10 projects ‘on the table’ according to Imparato.

And a follow-up to the 33 Stradale (below)? That’s one of the most beautiful Alfas in history, which used the mid-engined chassis and V8 engine of the Tipo 33 racing car. In 1967, Franco Scaglione designed a clean, curvaceous and utterly stunning body for the roadgoing Stradale version. Only 18 were built.

Alfa Romeo 22 Stradale

An electric or petrol-powered supercar?

Imparato has decreed that Alfa Romeo will only release electric cars from 2025 – which means any petrol-powered supercar needs to arrive quickly. Revealing a new halo car in 2023 would be in line with the hints of head of design Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos: ‘We will surprise you. Maybe. At some point. Soon,’ he teases.  

Could it be electric? Lotus is working on mid-engined electric cars which stack battery modules vertically behind the driver in what it calls a ‘chest’ design. But Mesonero-Romanos has ruled out such an approach from Alfa Romeo, using Stellantis’s new STLA electric platforms.

Car directly asked the design chief whether Alfa would deliver a petrol-powered halo car, to be met with a grin and a shrug. ‘I think you know what that means but I’m not saying anything,’ he replied enigmatically.

Alfa has a sensational engine in the 503bhp, twin-turbo V6 developed for the Giulia and Stelvio Quadrifoglio. It’s also been extended to 533bhp for the stripped-out Giulia GTAm supersaloon.

Alfa Giulia GTAm sideways

The base engine would be sensational in a lightweight supercar – adding electric modules would be expensive and complicated, though a V6 hybrid would offer some symmetry with the F1 racer’s drivetrain. Also, Ferrari F1 supplies the Alfa’s engine – and former Ferrari engineers worked on the Giulia’s V6 too.

Will the Sauber F1 operation be involved?

Alfa Romeo is in its fourth season partnering with the Sauber Formula 1 team, which has raced in motorsport’s pinnacle event since 1992.  

Alfa CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato reviews continuation in F1 annually, but he sees true links between the series and his road car operation. ‘Formula 1 is a kind of parallel with [where] Alfa Romeo wants to be today and new product. It’s consistent with my history, because Alfa has been living since 1910, in a world of performance and in the world of Formula 1. It’s totally consistent with my DNA and the only motorsport discipline that [stretches] worldwide is F1.’

Alfa Romeo: roadgoing supercar could cement F1 creds

And Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos has strong links with the Sauber operation, with design sharing an office building with Cristiano Fiore who’s in charge of the Formula One Motorsport operation. ‘We do some work with Sauber,’ he says.’ We have a business in common.’

Alfa Romeo road cars have been tested in Sauber’s wind tunnel – and it would be perfect for honing the aerodynamics of a future supercar.

A carbonfibre chassis?

Alfa Romeo announced plans for a new mid-engined supercar in 2018, in the Fiat-Chrysler era. But this was shelved when Alfa’s comeback sales did not keep up with expectations.

Now Stellantis is in charge, and development work could be restarted. It was due to use a carbonfibre monocoque chassis and wear carbon body panels, and the mid-engined 4C of 2014 also had a carbon chassis. There’s also more carbonfibre know-how in sister brand Maserati with its MC20 supercar, and the Sauber F1 team.

Alfa Romeo's fabled V6 engine: F1-inspired supercar could be swansong

The aborted Alfa supercar was tipped to combine the twin-turbo V6 (above) with an electrified front axle, to give all-wheel drive. Back in January, Imparato told CAR that his preference is for rear-wheel drive Alfa sports cars – unless that compromises performance. ‘Why not rear-wheel drive if I have the performance? If not, I prefer to be all-wheel drive.’

The design

Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos joined Alfa Romeo in summer 2021, and because he inherited the Tonale SUV he has yet to reveal his design philosophy.

But the ex-Seat/Cupra designer has outlined his intentions to CAR: he wants his Alfas to trigger an instant emotional and ‘visceral’ response.  ‘When you talk about Alfa Romeo, about Italian, about emotions, [I want people to think]: “I love it, I love it!” This is the main thing, which is very easy to say but very difficult to do.’

Alfa Romeo design chief Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos

Like all designers, Mesonero-Romanos (above) is obsessed with great proportions, and wants his Alfa Romeos to nimble-looking with clean surfacing.

‘Alfa Romeo used to be daring and very progressive; just think of the BAT models from Scaglione which were really at the forefront of innovation. And during the ‘80s, Alfa became not so daring, I would say. I want to come back again to this daring attitude, to make sure we are progressive.’

One thing’s for sure: the mid-engined supercar won’t be retro – even if it’s a spiritual successor to the 33 Stradale.

‘I loved the Alfa Romeo Montreal from Gandini. But if I had to do something like that again, I wouldn’t bring necessarily those elements. [Instead] I will try to think about the spirit of a car – in this case one that was very horizontal, very agile. I will try to analyse what is its spirit, what inspires me and then from there given all the constraints that we have in a new project, I try to build it into a new philosophy to make sure that the feeling is the same.’

‘Our cars are going to be daring. But don’t expect retro cars – our cars are going to be full Alfa Romeo.’

And nothing would be more full Alfa Romeo than a new, F1-inspired supercar.

Read our Alfa Romeo reviews

By Phil McNamara

Group editor-in-chief of CAR magazine