Prancing Horse power for Alfa Romeo as it announces the powerplants that will kick off its brand renaissance as a genuine sporting brand
THE dream of turning Alfa Romeo into Germany’s nightmare grew a little more realistic this week, when Fiat Chrysler Automobiles boss Sergio Marchionne announced manufacturing plans for two new high-power engines. The “advanced, high-output four-cylinder” and “Ferrari-derived six-cylinder”, both specifically developed for FCA-owned Alfa Romeo, will go into production later this year at the group’s Termoli plant in southern Italy. More than €500 million ($692 million) is being invested in designing and developing the engines, and constructing new production lines for them.
“This high-tech project is an integral part of our bet on Alfa Romeo,” Marchionne told Termoli’s employees on Wednesday. This is a hefty chunk of the €5 billion ($6.92 billion) FCA plans to invest in reversing the once famed, now failing, brand’s fortunes. The aim is to increase Alfa’s global sales, currently well south of 100,000 a year, to 400,000 by 2018. Eight all-new models are scheduled for launch between now and then.
Alfa Romeo is saying nothing official, but reliable and well connected Italian media have revealed details of the two engines. The four will be an in-line 2.0-litre with direct injection, and Fiat’s clever MultiAir variable valve timing and lift technology. With outputs ranging from 130kW to 240kW, it’s obviously also turbocharged.
The larger engine will apparently be an adaption of the twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 currently manufactured by Ferrari at Maranello for the Maserati Ghibli and Quattroporte. It’s not certain whether the engine’s capacity will be slightly reduced for its Alfa Romeo role, but Italian sources report it will deliver up to 350kW.
There’s no doubt about the new engines’ first destination. They will both be seen in the Alfa sedan to be officially revealed near Milan on 24 June. This car will utilise the all-new rear- and all-wheel drive architecture being developed to tight deadlines in a specially set up Skunk Works near Modena, close by the headquarters of both Maserati and Ferrari.
This car is currently known as “Project 952”, according to Italian media. Though frequently referred to in the past as “Giulia”, it’s not certain the historic name will be applied to the D-segment four-door. Alfa Romeo North America boss Reid Bigland told journalists at the recent New York International Auto Show that the decision was still being discussed.
But Bigland did promise the unnamed Alfa would deliver better model-for-model performance than rivals like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. “I’m confident that it’s going to blow your Italian socks off when look at the specifications associated with this vehicle,” he told Automotive News.
Production of the new engines at Termoli is scheduled to begin in October, and the most important Alfa in ages will start rolling off assembly lines soon afterwards. While sales should begin in Europe before the end of this year, the car won’t reach Australia until sometime after its first-quarter 2016 intro in the important North American market.
Next up from Alfa will be a compact SUV, currently known only as “Project 949”. Sharing much of its technology with the new sedan, this model is intended to compete with the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Porsche Macan.