Alfa Romeo has no plans to abandon the sports car segment once the 4C reaches the end of its product cycle.

That’s according to the Italian company’s top engineer who in a recent interview with Auto Express confirmed that a 4C replacement is coming.

“Being in the market with that kind of car is not a choice, we have to do it,” Alfa Romeo’s head of engineering, Roberto Fedeli, said in the interview. “We have to have a pure sporty car.”

But the replacement might end up being very different to the 4C. Fedeli revealed that Alfa Romeo has a number of options on the table, including switching to a new platform and/or new type of powertrain. One thing is for certain: there won’t be a manual transmission offered. Fedeli said there’s too little demand to justify the development costs.

2018 Alfa Romeo 4C

2018 Alfa Romeo 4C

A 4C replacement is still quite a few years out as the 4C is only approaching the midway point in its product cycle and Alfa Romeo has more pressing matters at hand, namely filling out its lineup with more profitable models. At the top of the list is a mid-size SUV.

In his interview with Auto Express, Fedeli also revealed that a compact car is also an important model for the company. Alfa Romeo already sells the Giulietta compact hatch in some markets but the car, having been launched in 2010, is long overdue for replacement.

“In order to complete the Alfa range of products we need another couple of pillars—something in the [compact] segment and then obviously a sporty product, a very sporty product,” he said.

Alfa Romeo is expected to release an updated product plan in early 2018. According to its most recent plan, the company is currently developing a mid-size sedan, compact SUV, compact car, and two specialty models. All Alfa Romeo is willing to say is that these additional models will be rolled out between now and the end of 2020, though we’ve heard that the mid-size sedan, an Italian challenger to the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class, has been pushed back to 2021.