23.12.2010 FOUR YEARS AFTER IT CEASED PRODUCTION THE ALFA 166 IS REBORN

GAC TRUMPCHI
GAC TRUMPCHI
GAC TRUMPCHI
GAC TRUMPCHI
GAC TRUMPCHI
GAC TRUMPCHI
GAC TRUMPCHI

Four years after it ended production the Alfa Romeo 166 lives on again: at its home motor show this week Guangzhou Automobile unveiled its new "GAC Trumpchi" which is closely based on the underpinnings of the Italian brand's last flagship sedan and also features the 2.0 TwinSpark engine.

Four years after it ended production the Alfa Romeo 166 is reborn: at its home motor show this week Guangzhou Automobile unveiled its new "GAC Trumpchi" which is closely based on the underpinnings of the Italian brand's last flagship sedan and also features the 2.0 TwinSpark engine.

The Trumpchi is the first self-branded car to be launched under the new "GAC" brand name which Guangzhou Automobile hope will carry it into the Chinese auto sector as a player in its own right. Guangzhou Automobile currently has joint ventures with Toyota and Honda, has forthcoming one in the pipeline with Mitsubishi and and unfolding one with Fiat. Presently the sixth largest carmaker in China, Guangzhou Automobile hopes to grow to an output of three million vehicles a year within the next five years and to stamp its mark on the auto scene with its own brand.

The new Trumpchi will be priced from US$18,000-28,500 yuan when it goes on sale in China next March, which places it firmly in an upscale bracket, and it will go head-to-head with Toyota's Camry and Honda's Accord in the executive vehicle market segment; ironically both these well established cars are currently built through Guangzhou Automobile's joint ventures with the Chinese car makers. The Trumpchi's high pricing means it is unlikely to be exported in the near futire.

While from the underside and in the engine bay the Trumpchi looks remarkably like the Alfa 166, the Chinese carmaker has restyled the Italian car, bringing its design language more closely into the sphere of the current-generation Camry and Accord, and fitted a new interior. The Alfa Romeo 2.0-litre TwinSpark engine is rated at 148 HP in this application and will be offered with a 5-speed manual or automatic transmission. There will be six specification levels at launch ranging from 122,800 (US$18,479) to 189,800 (US$28,561) yuan. An entry level 1.8-litre engined version will also be added to the range at a later date.

The Alfa 166 was designed in-house at Alfa Romeo Centro Stile under the direction of Walter de'Silva and was built between 1998 and 2007 with a mid-life facelift coming in 2003. It featured petrol engines between 2.0 and 3.2 litres as well as the 2.4 JTD turbodiesel as well as manual and automatic transmissions. The 166's styling followed very closely the brand's corporate language of the period which flowed from the smaller, D-segment 156, and succeeded the 164 which was Alfa Romeo's previous flagship sedan. It has never been replaced with several attempts to create a successor, often dubbed the "169" in the media, never leaving the drawing boards.

The new joint venture between Fiat and Guangzhou Automobile actually blossomed from initial contacts that were made by the Chinese firm when it was looking at simply purchasing the 166 production tooling, one of several available Fiat Group discontinued lines and engines that it examined. From that point of contact a joint venture arose which for Fiat Group Automobiles will replace the Nanjing Fiat joint venture that collapsed several years ago after making very little impact on Chinese consumers, although noises currently emanating from China imply that Guangzhou Automobile doesn't see the Fiat joint venture as being a top priority in its push forward with joint ventures and in particular its major focus on developing its own brand line.
 

2010 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed