Alfa giveth and Alfa taketh away. With apologies to Job (he has gone through a lot, after all), that's how things are looking at the Italian automaker - whether it's the promise of new products or its impending return to the North American market. But it's especially true when it comes to new roadsters.
While Alfa Romeo is expected to unveil the 4C Spider at the Geneva Motor Show this week, reports are now suggesting that its other roadster project is being called into question. That project is a joint venture between Fiat and Mazda, which was set to produce a version of its next MX-5 Miata as an Alfa Romeo, and was even changing the design to accommodate Alfa's requirements.
Now it appears, however, that the whole project in doubt. The problem seems to stem from Sergio Marchionne's pronouncements that, as long as he's in charge, there won't be an Alfa Romeo built outside of Italy.
The principal poses some problems, but also leaves some windows open. For one, it could mean that the Alfa project would be postponed until after Marchionne retires, but that's not expected to happen any time soon. For another, it could mean that the Alfa roadster would be developed by Mazda and based on its architecture, but assembled back in Italy - although the deal is said to call for Mazda to do the manufacturing. The prospect that our colleagues at at Automotive News Europe are betting on, however, is that Marchionne will switch its commitment to Mazda to another brand.
Eliminating Ferrari, Maserati and Lancia as possibilities, ANE figures the project could be transferred to either Fiat or the Abarth performance brand. Bertone's Fiat Barchetta concept looked promising in 2007, and Abarth was long rumored to get its own roadster - and both manufacture outside of Italy as it is. But for that matter, we wonder why - with Fiat and Chrysler now under the same umbrella - it couldn't be done instead as a Dodge or SRT. The Copperhead concept of 1997 and the Demon of 2008 did show some promise, after all. What do you think?
If you watched the latest episode of Top Gear, you'll have seen Jeremy Clarkson driving a red version of Touring's Disco Volante around Italy, then showing off a silver-finished one in the studio back in the UK. But when the doors open at the Palexo for the 2014 Geneva Motor Show this week, Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera will have another version to show off.
Pictured here, this version of the Disco Volante has been done up in dark green with gold accents for a treatment that looks decidedly less Italian and more British - something Colin Chapman (not to mention Green Bay football fans) would appreciate. We're not sure it's our favorite treatment of one of the most stylish cars money can buy (particularly with the rosso corsa grille and tailpipe inserts), but then we're not the one buying it. This example was likely produced for a specific customer.
The Disco Volante, for those unacquainted, is essentially an Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione - already a looker in our books - that's been rebodied by reborn Milanese coachbuilder Touring. The carrozzeria was established back in 1926, went under in 1966 and was reborn in 2006, adopting the Superleggera moniker that its forebear coined when pioneering lightweight monocoque construction techniques. Since its revival it has worked its magic on Maseratis, Bentleys, Gumperts and more. The Disco Volante is made to order at what you can bet is a not unsubstantial price.
With a history as rich as Alfa's, the brand has a wealth of symbology to draw on. Of course the Alfa Romeo logo itself has its own clout and allure, as do nameplates like Giulietta, Giulia and Spider. But another symbol from the marque's 104-year history is the Quadrifoglio Verde.
The green clover leaf has adorned the most hardcore performance Alfas since 1923. The emblem was brought back to distinguish the top versions of the MiTo and Giulietta in 2009, both of which are now headed to the Geneva Motor Show in even more enticing form.
The new three-door MiTo QV packs a 1.4-liter turbo four driving 170 horsepower to the front wheels through Alfa's six-speed dual-clutch transmission, giving it a 0-62 time of 7.3 seconds and a 136-mph top speed. The latest five-door Giulietta QV, meanwhile, packs a 1.75-liter turbo four with 240 horsepower - the same engine and six-speed DCT as the 4C, only turned around to drive the front wheels from the front end. It's good for a 6.6-second sprint to 62 and a 150-mph top speed.
Both models come with a host of upgrades both inside and out, details of which you can read in the press release below. But one of the most enticing parts is the matte grey finish which Alfa is offering on both models, and which only makes us anticipate the marque's eventual return to the North American market that much more.
Continue reading Alfa Romeo brings back the Quadrifoglio Verde
With the Geneva Motor Show fast approaching, we're receiving news left, right and center of various debuts lined up. And the latest bit of intel suggests that Alfa Romeo has prepared an open-top version of the 4C for debut at the Swiss expo.
The 4C Spider is tipped to incorporate several changes over the fixed-roof coupe version. For one, it'll have a removable roof panel (Porsche's people might call it a "Targa") along with a pair of carbon-fiber roll hoops affixed behind the bucket seats. That'll give the Alfa 4C a wind-in-your-hair driving experience to go with its high-output 1.75-liter turbo four.
We don't know at this point if the car will debut in concept or production form, but word from Italy has it that the 4C Spider will also feature a different headlight design (in place of the controversial fly-eye headlamp units on the coupe) and, of course, a different set of wheels.
Following the Top Gear adage "You can't be a true petrolhead until you've owned an Alfa Romeo," is rather difficult for those of us in North America. Faced with a distinct lack of new cars and an equally disturbing abundance of vintage basketcases, the road to Alfa ownership is a difficult one for residents of the new world.
Where there's a will, there's a way, though, and the benefits certainly seem worthwhile, as we see with Casey Annis and his gorgeous 1962 Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider Veloce 1600. Annis is the publisher and editor of Vintage Racecar Magazine, so he knows a thing or six about these classic Alfas. The video discusses his Alfa, which has been upgraded to Veloce specifications, as well as what the Alfa community is like as a whole.
Petrolicious has the story on Annis and his Alfa in its latest video. Fans of classic Italians are not going to want to miss this one.
Continue reading Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider rightfully fawned over by Petrolicious
Hagerty has announced its annual list of future classics, the 2014 Hot List. Naturally, these are some of the prettiest, fastest and most entertaining vehicles on sale. There are limits, though. You're not going to see a Ferrari LaFerrari or Rolls-Royce Wraith on this list, because Hagerty only considers vehicles with MSRPs below $100,000. Other requirements are that the vehicles are produced within the 2014 model year, although certain vehicles were considered if they missed out on previous Hot Lists.
"Most new car news focuses on the latest interactive technology, alternative power sources, and the race to increased efficiency," said McKeel Hagerty, the insurance company's president and CEO. "But for a car to be collectible in the future, it has to be cool right off the assembly line. A collectible car has to grab you and not let you go."
Occupying the Number One slot - and just barely, considering the $100K price cap - is the new Jaguar F-Type R, the svelte coupe that debuted at the 2013 LA Auto Show. Also squeaking in is the $92,900 BMW M5 and Chevy's $90,000, drag-ready COPO Camaro.
The rest of the list is slightly more attainable, with the $75,000 Maserati Ghibli S coming in at number four. Alfa Romeo's $54,000 4C, the new $51,000 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and the $43,000 Nissan 370Z Nismo cover the semi-affordable sports cars. Finally, the Dodge Challenger R/T with its new shaker hood, the off-road-ready Jeep Wrangler Rubicon X and the Ford Fiesta ST hot hatch round out the list.
Scroll down for Hagerty's explanation behind each car making the list, and then take a look at our gallery of images of each car.
Continue reading Hagerty says these 2014 models are tomorrow's classic cars
We're still not sure if or when we'll get it, but we know how fast it'll get 'round the Nürburgring, we know its headlights can give the trypophobic the heeby-jeebies and we know we like it. During a track day in Italy and thanks to YouTube user Marchettino, we also know what it looks like in white and what its 1.75-liter, four-cylinder exhaust note sounds like when you aim a camera at its rear and have someone lay his foot on the throttle.
Spoiler: it's a very nice sound, in case the briefly throaty antics of Giancarlo Fisichella, Chris Harris and our own First Drive hadn't convinced you already. And that makes it all the more shameful that three years after it was introduced as a concept we're still waiting to find out if we can have it. You can continue your pining to the sounds in the video below.
Continue reading Alfa Romeo 4C hits the track and the throttle in Italy [w/video]
Episode #360 of the Autoblog podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth and Jeff Ross discuss the 2015 Ford Mustang, reports of the latest plan to bring Alfa Romeo back to the US, Chevrolet leaving Europe and Holden closing down in Australia, and the price barrier that's holding down potential EV buyers. Dan also interviewed Jacques Brent, Ford's marketing manager for the 2015 Mustang and Sebastian Ruta and Joe Oh from Blipshift. We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. You can follow along after the jump with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!
Autoblog Podcast #360:
2015 Ford Mustang
Alfa Romeo's latest US launch plan hinges on new RWD platform
GM to shutter Holden and pull Chevrolet out of Europe
$25K price barrier is problem for EVs
In the Autoblog Garage:
2014 Toyota Tundra Platinum
2014 Cadillac ATS
Hosts: Dan Roth, Jeffrey Ross
Guests: Jacques Brent, Sebastian Ruta, Joe Oh
Get the podcast:
[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes
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Naturally, you'd expect a massive automaker like Fiat to have an in-depth plan to exit the current European-market doldrums, and you'd expect that plan to include plenty of new vehicles to attract those precious buyers that still remain despite the financial downturn. And you'd be right, though Fiat does seem to have a few unexpected twists up its corporate sleeve.
Perhaps the biggest shocker is a report that Fiat will completely drop the Punto, a car with mass-market appeal aimed at small-car buyers cross-shopping the popular Volkswagen Polo. Its replacement will be a five-door Fiat 500 aimed at upmarket buyers (sounds awfully similar to the 500L) that will be built in Poland. Lower-end customers will reportedly be served by variants of the Fiat Panda.
Borrowing a page from the BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen playbook, reports Automotive News, Fiat is said to have plans to reignite production at its Italian factories by retooling them to build high-end vehicles from Maserati and Alfa Romeo. These will be marketed as premium products, built by skilled Italian workers (who are paid wages that are 75-percent higher than those building Fiats in Poland), and will be sold around the world.
As always, it takes money to make money, and Fiat will be investing an estimated $12.3 billion (9 billion euros) over the next three years in its European recovery plan. The payoff if it works, though, which will include bringing back tens of thousands of Italian workers, could be huge for both Fiat and the European economy.
Brands come and brands go in the automotive industry, but for enthusiasts, the prospect of Alfa Romeo disappearing from the face of the earth altogether is a thought too painful to bear.
Fortunately, parent company Fiat isn't about to give up on the storied Italian marque, even after decades of losses. This year, Automotive News reports, Alfa Romeo's sales are expected to drop below the 100,000-unit mark for the first time since 1969. But Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne has a plan to turn it around. Or another plan, we should say, since this will actually be his fourth attempt at returning Alfa to profitability since taking the helm less than ten years ago.
The details of Marchionne's plans for Alfa - and for the Fiat and Chrysler groups altogether - won't be revealed until April, but what we already know is that it will center around a new rear-drive platform being developed by sister-brand Maserati. That'll be good news for enthusiasts who sigh at generation after generation of lackluster, front-drive Alfas, but it gets better: since Alfa itself can't justify the development cost of new architecture, the new rear-drive platform is also expected to be used for future Chrysler and Dodge products like the replacements for the 300, Charger and Challenger.
For Alfa's part, the platform is anticipated to underpin the new Giulia sedan and wagon, a larger sedan and a midsize crossover, the first of which are expected to arrive late in 2015 or early the following year. And best of all, each of these new models is tipped to come to the United States at long last, as well as help Alfa get a stronger foothold in the Chinese markets.