Spy Shots: Alfa Romeo 149

To replace its aging 147 hatchback, Alfa Romeo is going with two separate models. The 3-door version is being replaced by a little sport-hatch tentatively known as the Junior, of which we've seen countless spy shots and teasers. The 5-door, we'd been told, was being replaced by an entirely different model, likely to be labeled 149, but this is the first time we've seen it.

To make its products financially feasible, Alfa has been basing many of its new models on shared platforms from Fiat Group sister companies. So while the 3-door will be based on the Fiat Grande Punto, the 149 shares its platform with the larger Fiat Bravo. That corresponds to a bigger 149 than the 147 it replaces. The car in the spy shot is wearing mostly Bravo bodywork, but a sharp eye will notice the trademark Alfa grille up front.

Now pay attention, 'cause this model very well might make it over to the U.S. market with Alfa's return. Engine options will likely include a range of Fiat Group powerplants from the T-Jet and M-Jet series, and could include a 265-hp V6 for the GTA version. Alfa Romeo would be smart to stick with six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes – this writer has driven a 147 equipped with the Selespeed semi-automatic gearbox, and I agree with our source's assessment that the U.S. market especially would be better served by more conventional transmission choices.

The 149 is tipped to hit European markets with a €20 000 base price sometime in mid 2009 after the Junior becomes available this coming October. That means we could see it pop up at one of the big shows later this year.

[Source: World Car Fans]

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