It has been no secret that Alfa Romeo are
developing an entry-level sporty hatchback to compete with
rivals such as the BMW Mini.
Slowly but surely information and sketches have been
officially leaked in investor presentations during the past
year. The car will be aimed at young drivers, typically
aged between 18 and 30 years.
This car, referred to as “Junior”, will
be unveiled at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show in March. An
Italian market launch will follow before June, with most
other EU markets following in October. Priced from around
€16,000 in Italy, the Junior will effectively replace the
3-door version of the award-winning Alfa 147.
The Junior project, code-named 955, is
being developed under the leadership of Mauro Pierallini.
Just less than 4 metres in length, the newcomer will be
based on a significantly revised version of the Fiat Grande
Punto “Small” floorpan. The car will be a technical
masterpiece for its price, offering the latest in active and
dynamic safety. This new entry-level model will use SDC
active suspension and will be the first non-Ferrari to
include the Manettino switch on the steering wheel for
suspension setup changes.
The engine range will start with a 1.4
Multiair unit offering 105bhp and variable valve actuation
(induction) geometry. The following petrol engines in the
portfolio will all be turbocharged: 1.4 JTB (135bhp), 1.4
JTB (180bhp) and 1.8 JTB (230bhp). The Junior will also
offer two new diesel engines, the 1.6 JTDm (120bhp) and 1.6
JTTDm (150bhp). The entire range will come fitted with a
6-speed gearbox and will also include Selespeed
semi-automatic MTA versions.
The Junior will be a key car in Alfa
Romeo’s burgeoning range, with an annual production target
of up to 75,000 per year. So far the project has been
particularly well covered-up with no sightings of prototypes
on the open road. However, over the past week, two sketches
in particular have caught the media’s and enthusiasts’
attention alike. The sketches, which are official, have been
published in Italy’s Quattroruote automobile magazine,
showing both the front and rear of the Junior in convincing
detail for the first time. The bodywork, which is inspired
by the limited edition and highly lustful 8C Competizione,
will offer an exotic and youthful alternative in the compact
hatchback segment. The architecture is altogether more
dynamic than that of the more practical Grande Punto from
which it is derived. The styling will be an in-house effort
by the talented team of designers at Centro Stile in Arese.
The sketches, which are official,
have been published in Italy’s Quattroruote
automobile magazine, showing both the front and rear
of the Junior in convincing detail for the first
Slowly but surely information and
sketches have been officially leaked in investor
presentations during the past year.
From the front the car will look highly aggressive, with
8C-inspired headlamps and grilles. The revealed sketch also
shows a splitter which also adds to the car’s dynamic
stance. The design presents a very sleek glass house, with a
curvaceous front windscreen frame similar to that of the 8C
Competizione, Nuvola Concept and also the classic Giulia
berlina model. The flanks of the car are simple and
curvaceous, similar to those of the Mini.
At the rear the Junior shares DNA with another Italian
exotic: the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano. Single round taillights
are perched on the tip of each rear fender, similar in style
to the Ferrari. The rear window and hatchback also presents
an interesting design solution, with the window itself
marginally recessed into the frame. The baseline of the
window is offset by an aerodynamic built-in spoiler, similar
to that present on the Ferrari F430. The rear sketch also
presents a diffuser type bumper design with twin tailpipes.
This detail will feature on the potent 230bhp version.
In a quest
to find the right name for this important entry-level model,
Alfa Romeo has initiated a campaign with the most
prestigious international car magazines. Quattroruote in
Italy, Auto Motor und Sport in Germany, Autopista in Spain,
Automobile Magazine in France, Top Gear in the UK and Car
Graphic in Japan, are all participating in “Alfa Naming”,
with the chance for participants to win prestigious prizes
such as a new Alfa Spider or an Alfa Romeo-branded mountain
bike by Ducale. Just one week is left for Alfa Romeo
enthusiasts to register and leave their favoured name on the
Although not specified in official
investor presentations, a hard-top roadster model could
follow. This potential future drop-top would be inspired by
the legendary Duetto model, driven to fame in the 1966
Dustin Hoffman classic, “The Graduate”. Alfa Romeo CEO
Antonio Baravalle would like to see this classic model
redeveloped into a modern-day production car for Alfa
Romeo’s centenary celebration in 2010.