Our spy photographers have snapped the new Alfa 149 being put through its paces ahead of its launch next year. The new car will arrive just a few months behind the VW Golf, and is expected to pitched slightly further upmarket than today’s 147. Alfa’s production target for the new car is a modest 100,000 per year and prices are expected to kick off at around £15,000.Engines will include both petrol (including the new camless Multiair design) and diesel units ranging between 120bhp and 250bhp. Clever ‘Q2’ clever front differentials will be offered to maximise traction, although a rumoured four-wheel drive option seems unlikely now. Although it’s currently known as the 149, the production car is likely to carry a different moniker, with Alfa looking for to give the car a name following the pattern set by the Mito. Like the Mito, the 149’s styling will again be inspired by the Alfa 8C supercar.
Although these first spy shots show that the 149 test mule is based on a Fiat Bravo, Autocar understands that Alfa engineers have made significant modifications to the Bravo platform.Aside from a slight wheelbase stretch, the 149 will get an all-new independent rear suspension system. Italian sources say it will be a ‘three-arm’ design, similar to that used by BMW’s Mini. This set-up will be a significant advance on the beam axle used by the Bravo.In addition, the structure will be getting a major crash worthiness upgrade. As well as targeting the upcoming six-star EuroNCAP rating, the 149 chassis will be able to meet stringent new US market crash regulations. Italian sources say that a proposed new round of regulations will centre on resistance to heavy rear-impacts.Later this decade, Italian sources say that the 149 platform will also spawn coupe and cabrio versions, which are expected to replace the heavy, expensive and slow-selling Brera and Spider.Autocar also understands that plans for an Alfa SUV spun of the 149 platform have been shelved in light of environmental concerns and falling segment sales.