Yesterday’s marathon Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA) presentation was so massive and sweeping in all that it encompassed that City analysts are still picking through the details.
In Alfa’s case, it’s a massive £4 billion investment in eight new models, which will arrive between now and 2018.
The only surprise in the product plan is that Alfa has decided to stay in the compact premium segment. With one of ‘New Alfa’s’ objectives being to produce ‘best-in-class’ rear and all-wheel drive architecture, it seems that there’s more than a good chance of a compact, rear-drive Alfa Romeo arriving in showrooms, in two body styles, between 2016 and 2018.
The first new Alfa road car – the rear-drive rival for the BMW 3-series – will arrive in late 2015, with a flagship sporting Cloverleaf version appearing from the outset. That saloon will be followed by an estate. There’ll also be two ‘UVs’ – Alfa has adopted the ‘Utility Vehicle’ tag – presumably both based on Alfa’s new homegrown platform.
Then there will be Alfa’s ‘full size’ offering and another Alfa flagship sportscar, which is likely to be positioned above the Alfa Romeo 4C.
The planned Alfa Spider, based on the next-generation Mazda MX-5 has, as rumoured, been dropped from the plan. This car will effectively morph into a new Fiat 124 Spider, a car that was very popular in the United States.
Clearly this is a sound plan on paper, presuming that the £4bn investment is already ring-fenced. And the promise that the brand has dropped front-wheel drive shows that this reinvention of Alfa is serious about its premium positioning.
However, the really surprising thing about yesterday’s presentation by brand boss Harald Wester was Alfa’s unashamed exposure of the company’s past mistakes.
One slide shown on the giant screen mocked the idea of turning the Fiat Croma into the Alfa 164 (was that so bad?), while another described the Nissan Cherry-based Alfa Arna as the ‘original sin’.
The presentation opened on a much more positive note, quoting Enzo Ferrari’s famous remark about Alfa (“...I still have for Alfa, the tenderness of a first love. The pure affection of a child for his mother”).
There was also an extensive run-through of Alfa’s sporting successes, starting way back in 1925 and winning a world championship at Monza through to Alfa’s more recent remarkable record in touring car competition.