One look into Alfa Romeo’s history reveals a brand that ran well above their current stature. In times of old, Alfa Romeo’s were revered and held in high stature amongst the likes of Maserati and Mercedes-Benz. But In recent decades, Alfa lost that fire and the level of prestige associated with the Italian marque – the recycled Fiat platforms lent themselves to decent cars, but they were never truly great, and the front-wheel drive architecture was a disappointing legacy to leave.
But times are changing dear petrolheads, and the Fiat-Chrysler Alliance is taking a new direction – for all brands, not just Alfa Romeo. But as avid petrolheads, we have a soft spot for Alfa, and as such we were eagerly waiting Sergio Marchionne’s brand development plan on the 7th of May, perhaps a little more than we were anticipating voting. So what is the new plan for Alfa Romeo? It’s simple, 8 new cars by 2018, and they’ll forego the front-wheel drive setups of recent times for new rear- and all-wheel drive setups.
Sounds interesting, right? Well it’s all part of a new plan to restore Alfa to its former glory. Harald Wester, Alfa romeo’s Chief Technology Officer, has indicated that they would like to up sales volumes from the 74 000 units sold in 2013 to around 400 000 by 2018. To do this, Alfa are investing around €5 billion (that’s nine zeroes) in the restructure – which may or may not be coming from the demise of the SRT brand, which has now been canned, meaning the SRT Viper will once again be a Dodge Viper.
Back to Alfa Romeo though – the first fruits of the new plan are likely to show up in 2015, when the brand plans to release the new Giulia sedan to compete with the BMW 3-series. The great news is, the Giulia will be rear-wheel driven, and there should be a wagon version to follow suit within a year or 2 of its debut.
Yes, all new Alfa Romeo’s will be either rear- or all-wheel driven, with an entirely new set of platforms currently under development. The larger of these platforms will likely utilise Maserati development from the likes of the Ghibli, which will be used in a future 5-series fighter and one of 2 SUV’s, all of which are planned for a release between 2016 and 2018.
There will also be a new, smaller RWD platform developed for 2 new compact vehicles, likely to be a Giulietta replacement with a sedan version. The sub-compact segment has been tossed from the portfolio – bye-bye MiTo– for the future plans, but we are going to see both the MiTo and Giulietta see out the remainder of their lifespan, the last front-wheel drive Alfas.
Above and beyond the smaller segments, Alfa will also release a larger SUV, and a vehicle which falls under the “Specialty” category, designated for a 2016-2018 release. Currently under that tag lays the Alfa Romeo 4C, with the 4C Spider due for production soon too, but the new vehicle will most likely be a high end sports car, in the same vein as the 8C, or at least we hope it will be.
What of the Mazda MX-5 twin though, the Alfa Romeo Spider? Well that’s probably going to be a Fiat, or an Abarth. Marchionne has made it expressly clear that Alfa Romeo’s need to maintain a strong Italian heritage, and as such no Alfas shall be built outside of Italy.
So then, a new Spider may be on the cards for a later date, however it currently isn’t on Alfa’s to-do list. What is on the agenda though is a 4C QV, as Marchionne has stated that the chassis of the 4C is capable of, and deserves more power, to the tune of 300hp (224kW). We may see the cloverleaf-badged 4C as early as 2016 locally (2015 internationally).
Alfa Romeo officials have made it very clear that although they had many iconic cars in the 80’s, even those “missed the historical DNA” of the brand. To recapture this spirit, Alfa are going to focus on 5 areas:
- Advanced engines (possibly with Maserati and Ferrari input)
- 50-50 weight distribution
- Unique technical solutions
- Strong power-to-weight ratios (expect high usage of aluminium and carbon fibre)
- Striking design
To achieve this, a secret Alfa Romeo skunk works division has been developed that will live on a strict regiment of eating, sleeping, and designing Italian performance cars.
Additionally, Alfa will need to employ engines capable of living up to their new goals. Whilst they have yet to confirm, it is strongly believed that they will utilise 2 petrol-driven turbocharged 4-cylinder engines to deliver power outputs ranging from 75kW to 250kW, whilst a 4-pot diesel will deal with the 75-150kW power range. Above these will slot 2 6-cylinder engines – one petrol and one diesel – with the petrol mill developing between 300kW and 370kW. It is widely believed that Alfa will source Maserati V6 engines for use in the top of the range vehicles.
Alfa’s returning to its roots, and the “expensive Fiat” feel will soon be gone. Buckle up boys and girls, because Alfa’s aiming for the big dogs, and they’re going in with some real determination. Now we can finally look forward to Fiat producing cars as great as the MiTo QV (We hope), and Alfa competing at the level the brand once did.
Author: Roger Biermann