2009 Alfa Romeo 159Enlarge Photo
Fans of Italian styling are anxiously awaiting Fiat and Alfa Romeo's return to the U.S. now that the alliance deal between the Italian auto giant and Chrysler has been signed. Late this year we will see the first of the Italian runabouts, the minuscule Fiat 500, and after that there are the Alfa Romeo MiTo and upcoming Milano hatchbacks, though neither of these vehicles have been confirmed for U.S. sale.
The reason being is that Americans still haven't fully embraced the concept of the hatchback as a useful and practical vehicle for families, and nowhere is this truer than in the luxury segment. BMW and Mercedes-Benz both make premium small cars, but neither sells the hatch versions in the U.S. And so it appears Alfa Romeo may follow a similar line of business logic, with the latest reports indicating the Giulia sedan--a replacement to the European 159 (pictured)--may be the first high-volume Alfa Romeo to return to U.S. shores.
The new Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan is reportedly set to be revealed next year for the European market, while Americans will have to wait an additional year. According to Fiat-Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne, the Alfa Romeo brand isn’t likely to arrive in the U.S. until 2012, when local production of the Giulia--and a Chrysler model based on the same platform--starts up.
Based on Fiat Group’s new “Compact-Wide” platform, the front-wheel drive Giulia will feature a McPherson front axle with a twin-link rear suspension. A high-performance all-wheel drive variant may also be offered, as well as a sporty wagon.
The question, however, remains: how do Chrysler and Alfa Romeo build cars on a common platform while maintaining sufficiently independent brand identities while also being competitive in their segments and profitable at the same time?