Fans of Italian cars have been eagerly anticipating the replacement of the Alfa Romeo 147, currently the company's entry-level model. Alfa's working on a new "junior" model to slot below it in the line-up while it prepares a genuine replacement, expected to carry the 149 nameplate.

The current 147 was introduced back in 2001. It got a mild facelift in 2005, but that hasn't been enough to boost sales to where the Italian carmaker wants them to be. These photos are reported to be taken of a clay mock-up and not a pre-production car, which would be a little premature given the production schedule. According to information from parent company Fiat, the new 149 isn't due to hit the market until the middle of 2009, at which point the 147 will have been on the market eight long years.

The 149 is tipped to be based on the new Fiat Bravo, launching a two-pronged Italian attack on the popular Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. The car is expected to grow slightly in size over the 147, with gasoline engines starting at a 120-hp 1.4-lter four to a Q4 version with a 3.2-liter V6 pumping 260 hp through all four wheels, and a range of diesel engines on offer as well. Still no word on whether the hatchback will join the 8C Competizione, Brera and 159 when Alfa returns to the American market.

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(A few more spy shots of the 149 mock-up after the jump)

[Source: Autotematic Forums via Motor Authority]



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