Alfa will preview a new styling direction at the Geneva motor show with the launch of small, high-performance, coupe concept.
Tipped for a limited production run of around 5000 cars per year, the new car is described as a ‘baby 8C’ by insiders and is expected to cost more than £35,000.
The mid-engined concept - rumoured to be badged 4C - is not intended as a spiritual replacement for the classic Alfa Romeo Spider, instead placing greater emphasis on outright performance and intended to give the ailing Alfa brand a huge image boost when it arrives in the US in less than two year’s time.
Alfa is not alone is aiming for the ‘Audi TT effect’, where a single model can transform wider perceptions of the brand.
Alfa insiders have told Autocar that rumours that the car is based on a development of the KTM X-Bow’s carbonfibre chassis are “wide of the mark”. Industry reports suggest that the 4C will be built around a carbonfibre monocoque, allied to aluminium subframes front and rear. Engineers are aiming for a particularly low all-up weight.
It’s thought that the concept is also related to the proposed Abarth roadster, uncovered by Autocar last autumn. However, as well as greater use of expensive lightweight materials, the Alfa is likely to have a more powerful engine, more seductive styling and more lavishly appointed interior than the less expensive Abarth concept.
The Alfa’s transversely mounted powertrain will be lifted from the Giulietta and is expected to feature highly-tuned versions of the acclaimed MultiAir engine line-up.
In the longer term, Alfa Romeo is expected to launch a direct replacement for the classic Spider, a model which is felt to be particularly important in relaunching the brand in USA. It’s possible that Alfa will work on a conventional steel monocoque rear-drive platform for the car with partners Chrysler, which already makes the rear-drive 300C.
Fiat sources told Autocar that $1bn was invested in re-engineering the platform underpinning the new 300C and the platform underpinning the front-drive 200C. Both cars make their European debut at next month’s Geneva show wearing Lancia badges. The 200C will not make it to the UK, but the 300C will arrive early next year.