The Italian manufacturer will retrain its focus on advanced engines, perfect power-to-weight ratios and its 'skunk works' heritage

The rebirth of Alfa Romeo hinges on an expanded range of eight new or revised models, a new focus on rear and four-wheel drive architecture and a heavier emphasis on the brand’s Italian heritage.

Speaking at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) investor relations event in Michigan today, Harald J Wester, chief executive of Alfa Romeo, unveiled plans for an expanded range of cars set to appear between 2015 and 2018.

It has also set its sights on offering "best-in-class rear and all-wheel drive architecture for global products", echoing previous comments from Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne that Alfa will focus predominantly on rear-drive machines.

Alfa’s current model range comprises just four cars – the Mito, Giulietta and the Alfa Romeo 4C and 4C Spider sports cars. In the fourth quarter of 2015, this range will be augmented by the Giulia, a new mid-size model to rival the BMW 3-series.

After that, however, it appears the company will exit the sub-compact market that the Mito currently competes in. Instead, Alfa’s product plan for 2016 onwards allows for two cars in the compact segment, the Giulia, a full-size saloon, two SUVs and a new “speciality” offering in the vein of the Alfa Romeo 4C.

The product plan also allows for high-performance Cloverleaf-badged variants of the new models.

Proposals for an Alfa Romeo-badged SUV date back as far as 2003, when the Kamal concept car was revealed at the Geneva motor show.

Alfa’s future cars will choose from a pool of five engines, three petrols and two diesels. Two of the petrol-fuelled engines will be four cylinders, with the other being a six-pot, while four- and six-cylinder diesels will be offered.

The Italian company hasn’t revealed specific performance figures for each unit, although the six-cylinder petrol could produce around 500bhp in its most powerful state of tune.

In the presentation to investors, Alfa acknowledged that striking past models such as Brera, 159 and Spider had “missed the historical DNA of the brand”. This, it admitted, had enabled “our German competitors to build up a phenomenal lead over us over a number of years”.

The DNA, says Alfa, comprises “advanced, innovative engines, perfect 50/50 weight distribution, unique technical solutions, class exclusive power-to-weight ratios and groundbreaking and distinctly Italian design”.

The company says the Alfa Romeo 4C marks the start of a return to this process and is “the perfect embodiment of the brand’s DNA”.

Alfa also wants to return to the ‘skunk works’ ethos that underpinned its formative years of car making. It will develop its own technical solutions with a large degree of autonomy from parent company FCA and hand-pick its engineering talent from across the FCA group and the outside car industry. The cars and engines will all be made in Italy.

The company intends to grow its global sales from 74,000 last year to 400,000 by 2018.

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Comments
13

6 May 2014
This is great news! I thought the idea that Alfa would leave the compact segment a bit ridiculous when everyone else is downsizing. Assuming they stick with the 5 door hatchback as one of the models I wonder if the other will be a saloon, estate or coupe? They do say that best in class rear and four wheel drive will be offered for GLOBAL products - so does this mean the Giulietta stays front drive for sale in Europe only? Only other disappointment is no mention of a new Spider. I assume it will be the new speciality model, however i hope it isn't too speciality....

6 May 2014
Could the compact cars be alternatives to a regular hatchback etc.? So perhaps an Alfa Spider and a 4 seat GTV 2 door to rival the BMW 2 series? The speciality car might then be a big coupe - perhaps a 6C in the spirit of the 70's Montreal?

6 May 2014
I've said it before, but there's nothing really wrong with the MiTo itself. The problem is the base is a 10 years old+ Punto and the market has moved on to better things. Especially when the MiTo is more expensive than the competition. Once FIAT sort out a new Punto, the MiTo could return to form.

6 May 2014
This looks like a bit if a risky strategy to me - but I hope it works. If Alfa go to 400,000 units per year, all made in Italy other volume will have to be displaced. Perhaps this is why there is the demise of Lancia. But, if it doesn't work and say sales increase to 150,000, which is ambitious in its own right, it could be the end of car production in Italy?, or something would need to close elsewhere (Poland?) Or if it fails will the family jewel, Ferrari have to be sold? Not really sure how Abarth fits into the new strategy, we have a 500 Abarth and a roadster Abarth soon (the co-developed Mazda roadster cannot be an Alfa as it is not made in Italy). So, performance cars, how does this fit with a Punto Abarth, when that car is seen, so I believe as more of a Dacia competitor? An Lancia is all but dead, OK, maybe a brand too many, but trying to flog re-branded Chryslers as Lancia's in Europe did not help. It is risky and will need a lot of Italian passion, style, reliability and sales to make it work

6 May 2014
OK, a bit of digging suggests Fiat is currently way under capacity" Fiat built 11,000 cars in Mirafiori in the first half, according to the Fim Cisl union. The factory has capacity to makes as many as 300,000 cars a year." OK so that's space for 290,000 Alfas to start with

6 May 2014
Their current mass market cars (Mito and Giulietta) are getting long in the tooth and weren't even bothering the top cars in their respective classes at launch. The 4C, whilst it's a pretty car, hasn't worried it's competition either. The car being developed with Mazda as a new Spider won't now be an Alfa. The 159 replacement has itself been replaced once or twice since the 159 ceased to exist and they have been toying with building an SUV since 2003. Yet despite all this, they are planning a new model offensive over the next 3-4 years. Seems unlikely to me. Don't get me wrong, I do have a soft spot for Alfa but I struggle to believe that FIAT can justify/afford to keep bank rolling them (and Lancia) for the next decade, particularly when Fiats own range looks to need a little help. SAAB, Pontiac and Hummer got shut down, are Alfa really in better shape?

6 May 2014
Strangely enough the target sales are getting slightly more realistic, but the actual figures are diminishing further (74k is totally unsustainable). Alfa just always makes cars way off the mark. The concepts look good, but the final product is no where near it's competition. The Brera/Spider was a big sales flop, the Mito wasn't a bad effort, but there was a far better product in the Fiat 500 and the guiletta again an ok effort, but I felt Alfa never really made effort to push this model. It's getting a bit boring with yet another new direction Alfa are aiming for. The money the Germans spend for each model would require probably double just to get Alfa on even footing.

6 May 2014
There is an all new engineering team led by ex Ferrari people, so discussing any recent products and sales figures is a bit pointless. Maserati has went from selling a handful of cars a year to thousands a month in a relatively short space of time, so this might work. Of coarse it also might not....

7 May 2014
Another 'Alfa Romeo comeback' story, one that's just a slight variation on all the past stories we've read over the last few years. However, while it's easy to be cynical, I must say that my fingers are firmly crossed that they follow up all the talk with some Alfas we (enthusiasts) might really want to own. The German manufacturers are much too aware of each others product ranges and the result is often very good, yet oh-so predictable models. They are clearly the default choice for many people, but some serious alternatives are long overdue. It's little wonder that Maserati has done well recently in the luxury market. They're not perfect, but they're good enough to be popular and it's easy to understand why. Without Volvo and Jaguar, they'd be virtually no competition whatsoever for the mainstream Germans. We need Alfa to get it right this time, and soon.

7 May 2014
How on earth will an 'own skunkworks' be affordable? As others have commented - always many plans over the years - but what has been delivered as a result of such plans? Essentially sod all.

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