Alfa Romeo's long-awaited return to the US market has been pushed back to 2014. Car and Driver gives us the skinny on what's in store.
It's been on the table for over a decade, but it has yet to happen. We're talking, of course, about Alfa Romeo's return to the North American market for the first time since 1995. Having been repeatedly pushed back over the years, Fiat/Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne has now set the target for 2014. Two years from now Alfa is slated to begin selling a quartet of new models in American showrooms - some of them to be built in Italy, some in Japan and some right here in the United States.
The most exciting of the four new models being developed particularly for the US market will be a pair of sportscars. The new Duetto is being co-developed with Mazda on the basis of the next-generation MX-5 Miata, so expect a front-engined, rear-drive, two-seat roadster with a 1.8-liter turbo four (different from what Mazda will offer) mounted longitudinally in front of the driver. . Production will be handled by Mazda in Japan. Above that will sit the production version of the 4C concept, expected to be sold in both coupe and convertible versions. Alfa's new high-tech and adaptable 1.8 turbo will sit this time behind the driver and produce more than 200 horsepower.
The 4C will serve as something of a halo car, similar to what the R8 does for Audi or the Viper does for Chrysler, only smaller, nimbler and more affordable. The marque's bread and butter, however, will be the new Giulia. Sharing components with the Chrysler 200, Dodge Dart, Fiat Viaggio (sold in China) and Alfa Romeo Giulietta, the Nuovo Giulia will fill the void left by the departure of the 159. Chrysler's Pentastar V6 will be offered, but so will that same 1.8-liter turbo four, this time driving around 170 horsepower to the front wheels. Expect a diesel version as well, but the wagon version will likely remain confined to overseas markets.
Finally Alfa is tipped to offer a crossover sharing its underpinnings with the next-gen Jeep Compass and Patriot to target the likes of the Volkswagen Tiguan. Initially a larger SUV was planned based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but that program was bumped up to Maserati for its new Levante SUV, previewed by the Kubang concept.