- Jul 29, 2008
Exclusive: What's next from Alfa Romeo and Abarth
Several high-ranking executives from Alfa Romeo were keen to see how the launch of the new MiTo materialized. While they were there, we had the chance to talk with one of Alfa's top marketing officers over dinner and discuss the latest news churned out of the rumormill concerning upcoming products from Alfa and its sister-brand Abarth.
Read on to find out what's coming.
For starters, we discussed the next model coming down the pipeline for Alfa Romeo. The MiTo, which we were driving the following day, replaces the three-door version of the ageing 147 hatchback, with a larger 149 slotting in above the MiTo with five doors. While previous reports had concluded that the 149 would share its platform with the Fiat Bravo, our hosts confirmed the later reports that the 149 would sit on its own unique platform.
Although Alfa is considering a new, small convertible model, it would not come as a MiTo spider, instead it will get its own designation and coachwork that's distinctly different from existing models.
Following the release of the 149, which we could see as early as October at the Paris show, Alfa is working on a new flagship sedan to replace the discontinued 166. While previous reports tipped a variety of sources for the 169's anticipated rear-drive platform – from Maserati to Jaguar – our hosts couldn't verify where the 169 would borrow its underpinnings. However, we did discuss the prospect of a crossover for Alfa Romeo, suggesting that the Italian automaker is still considering the idea originally previewed by the 2003 Kamal concept. Potential competitors included the BMW X6 and Infiniti FX, suggesting that Alfa would take a decidedly different route than Porsche did with the Cayenne. However, the company's marketing department realizes that, with Italian automakers known more for sportscars and sub-compacts than for sport-utes, the vehicle would have to espouse a uniquely Italian character and tight proportions to distinguish itself in the marketplace. The confirmation we were waiting for, however, concerned the future of the 8C Competizione: our hosts confirmed that a run of 100 lightweight GTAs are being prepared for the company's centenary, while the notion of a Ferrari California-based successor was chalked up to pure speculation.
With Abarth under the common direction of Alfa CEO Luca de Meo, we also had a chance to discuss the future of the new Fiat performance marque. Rumors have continued to escalate over a unique model for Abarth – tipped to be a small, lightweight roadster – to distinguish itself from its parent company. However, despite previous confirmation from Abarth spokespersons, we were told that Abarth would remain a two-model (500 and Grande Punto) brand for the next few years at least