Remember Alfa’s 166? The deprivation disaster, style master, executive sedan? Well, allegedly the new one will be rear-wheel drive and built in North America.
Alfa's new '169' to be RWD?
Of all the machinations cornering the raft of bankruptcies around motor city, Detroit, during the last year, the Fiat/Chrysler deal was the most unexpected.
Fiat CEO, Sergio Marchionne, was called the bravest man in the motoring industry for gambling his company’s future on the Chrysler deal.
Marchionne though, was cognisant of the sales volumes needed to survive as a global brand. The magic number is 6 million units a year, and Fiat did not believe it could do such a number without a significant presence in a market as large as North America.
The question in enthusiasts’ minds has been how a possible North American Fiat product line-up would look.
The sheetmetal surfacing, engines and some suspension componentry will differ, but Chrysler's 300C is the blueprint for a new large Alfa sedan.
300C Alfa 166 synergy?
Rumours emanating from America have now pegged Chrysler’s 300C rear-wheel drive platform as Fiat’s preferred Trojan horse for reintroducing Alfa Romeo products to the North American market.
Fiat knows Americans prefer their executive sedans with rear-wheel drive, and the new Alfa (codenamed 169) will eschew its predecessor’s front-wheel drive configuration.
Production of the "169" is expected to commence at a retooled Chrysler plant in Brampton, Ontario, which would supply all global markets with the new Alfa.
Will a pretty little Italian cocktail dress styling job on this herald the new Brera?
Sporty Alfas to go RWD again?
Other expected platform convergences could include a return to rear-wheel drive for both the new Alfa Spider and Brera sportscar (based on the Dodge Challenger architecture), although the wheelbase and track dimensions might be too large for European tastes.
Fiat will reciprocate on the engineering sharing exercise by providing Chrysler with three new platforms.
Currently described purely as A (Fiat 500), B (Grande Punto) and C (the forthcoming Milano) these platforms will enable Chrysler and Dodge to produce smaller vehicles, the ilk of which Chrysler currently does without.
The return of Alfa Romeo to the North American market is expect by 2011, with comprehensive details of models and planned roll-outs due next month.