Following a deluge of 'spy' images onto the internet of pre-production versions of Progetto 940, the replacement for the Alfa 147, a fortnight ago, two more photos have popped up that offer a further look at this key new model, and give the best look yet at its new lines.

Designed in-house by Alfa Romeo Centro Stile, Progetto 940, to be known as the Alfa Milano, will only be available in 5-door hatchback format. While adhering to much of the new "design language" first seen on the Alfa 8C Competizione sports car and which was further evolved by the B-segment MiTo hatchback, the Milano at the front betrays a front grille influenced by the Bertone-styled Alfa GT Coupé, though positioned in a wider aperture, while the thin front spoiler sections show evolutionary styling from the Alfa 147 model it will replace.

The one of the two new photos offers a better look at the high side treatment which is forced upon the designers due to the architecture chosen for this project. It's underpinnings evolve from the Lancia Delta and Fiat Bravo, as the Milano is built around an evolved version of their "Compact" platform (which itself started life on the Fiat Stilo) now known as "C-Evo" for the Alfa Milano project. It now has a longer wheelbase, shorter overhangs and an advanced new type of McPherson strut front/multilink rear suspension. Meanwhile both front-wheel-drive and Alfa Romeo's Q4 four-wheel-drive have been engineered into C-Evo, while Active Roll Control will also be an option on the Milano.

The sharp styling betrayed by the photos of the Alfa Milano is a clear departure from Alfa Romeo's recent tradition and shows clearly the influences of the senior design management changes that have recently taken place at Alfa Romeo Centro Stile, with the shape heavily influenced by the new generation of design thinking that Chris Bangle introduced at BMW and which has become very fashionable with consumers. The photos also show an attempt to incorporate the principles of the fade-in-fade-out swage line effect that was so successful on the Alfa 156. The mish-mash of design ideas prevailing in the photos reveals the long history of this project which has been repeatedly sent back to the drawing board and the changes in senior staff working on the Alfa 147 replacement.

The prototype cars are also being tested on 5-stud wheels from the Alfa 159 which means that the C-Evo platform will have 110mm PCD. As had been gathered from disguised prototypes seen testing, the rear door handles of the Milano are positioned high up and hidden, reviving the much cherished pattern of the Alfa 147 and 156 although this cue unfortunately accentuates further the high sided nature of this car. The rear tailgate shows some evolution from the Alfa 147 and the MiTo, especially with its angular lower horizontal glass line, while with the rear lights Alfa Romeo has chosen not to replicate the single round light units of the MiTo, and the angled units of the Milano contain design elements of several recent lights to be used by Alfa Romeo.

© 2009 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed