Considering how long we've been anticipating the return of Alfa Romeo to North America , we can hardly be blamed for growing tired of the endless reports of its further delay. This, however, arrives as a welcome surprise.

The marque's arrival here was originally supposed to be spearheaded by the 8C Competizione, but that sumptuous model came and went, and we're back to an Alfa-free market. Later re-strategization put the upcoming 4C in the same position, establishing a beachhead for the arrival of a broader (read: more accessible and versatile) range of Alfa models. Now an Autocar report suggests the 4C may be ready earlier than expected.

The carbon-intensive, mid-engined sports car made its debut in concept form at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show and was expected to bow in production trim at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, but is now tipped to debut in about a year from now (next summer) - a good half-year ahead of schedule.

Word has it that the 4C will also be produced at two sites, meaning that the North American version (if it's any different from the European car) could be assembled locally.

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