Don't Be Surprised If Alfa Romeo's Next Model Is FWD

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But they will still feel as an Alfa should.

Since its return to the North American market back in 2014, Alfa Romeo has remained a bit of an unknown to the majority of consumers. Prior to 2014, Alfa Romeo hadn't sold a car in the US since 1995, unless you count the highly limited 8C sports car, so you can forgive people for not being well-acquainted with the Italian brand. The situation certainly wasn't helped when Alfa returned to the US with the 4C, a small, two-seater sports car but the brand should finally be gaining traction with the arrival of the Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV.

At the 2019 New York Auto Show, we spoke to Bob Broderdorf, Director of Alfa Romeo North America and Benjamin Lyon, Head of Product Marketing, about how the company plans to increase its market share in the US with new models.

Alfa only currently offers three models but has stated in its five-year plan that more are coming, including the recently revealed Tonale Concept SUV.

"The the five-year plan lays out what I think is an intelligent approach to covering the portions of the premium segments. So the Tonale specifically is for conceptual design elements on the car. Really, we wanted to see how the market responded - but from a philosophical standpoint, I don't like building concept cars where they're fantasy. So we gave you what I think is a very real world approach to a concept car."

We still know almost nothing about Alfa's future compact SUV, including what platforms it will use. Alfa simply said it will use an AWD-e system with a rear electric motor. "We're not just going to make up stats and numbers. When I give you a stat and tell you what I think it can do, it's because it can do it. And we take that really seriously. I think we can deliver an amazing combination of the plug-in hybrid performance elements in the car."

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In previous statements, Alfa Romeo has said all of its cars will be based on rear-wheel-drive platforms, although it seems the company has softened its stance on this point based on our discussion.

"As we continue to investigate architectures, efficiencies, and business models, I don't think anyone says - 'hey, thou shall never bring one in here,'" Broderdorf explained in reference to building a car with a FWD architecture. "Are we very much aware of what it would mean to not do that? Sure."

"I think the brand pillars are probably more important than necessarily the execution. The power-to-weight ratio, the balance of the cars, that experience in the car is necessarily more important than how you get there," Broderdorf said. "No matter what architecture you pick, I don't care what FCA architecture, if you shared something or you make something all-new and leverage up, it's got to meet the attributes of Alfa."

While certainly not a confirmation, Broderdorf's words may potentially confirm suspicions that the Tonale could share a platform with the Jeep Renegade. But as it was made clear in our conversations, the company would only do so if the resulting car still felt like an Alfa should.

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