As the Italians ready to launch their second attack on BMW's MINI following the debut of the hot-selling Fiat 500, more details of the upcoming "Alfa Junior" emerge with each passing week. The inside scoop now places the new premium hatch for debut at the Geneva show next March, with an anticipated European market launch next October, one year from now.
Based on the already sexy Giugiaro-designed Fiat Grande Punto, AR Project 955 is set to introduce the very best of Italian automotive design and technology to the supermini segment. Sketches released suggest that Alfa's Centro Stile drew inspiration for the front end from the sexiest-thing-on-wheels 8C Competizione and the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano for the tail, with a F430-style lip spoiler and a rear diffuser with twin tailpipes on the top-spec 230-hp version.
The Junior will also be the first car outside Maranello to use Ferrari's steering-wheel-mounted "Manettino" switch to control the SDC active suspension. A wide range of engines will be on offer, starting with a 105-hp 1.4-liter Multiair four with variable valve timing, followed by a selection of 1.4 and 1.8 turbos with 135, 180 and 230 horsepower, as well as two of Alfa's sweetest 1.2-liter JTDm oil-burners with 120 or 150 horsepower, all mated to either a 6-speed manual or Alfa's Selespeed semi-automatic.
Don't get too used to calling it the Junior, though, as the company has launched the "Alfa Naming" contest to pick the best nameplate. Held in conjunction with some of Europe's biggest car mags – what, nobody asked us? – you can check out the English version co-sponsored by Top Gear at alfanaming.co.uk.