Alfa Romeo’s been threatening to invade American shores for as long as, well, we’ve been trying to find Bin Laden. But now with Terrorist Numero Uno sweeping up plankton in the ocean, it looks like there’s no choice but for Fiat to finally follow through with what they’ve announced over 10 years ago.
Of course, back in the year 2000 Bush had just been elected into office, Mel Gibson was still a charming romantic lead, and Alfa Romeo was in bed with General Motors, while issuing plans to sell Alfa roadsters in Cadillac and Saab dealers. Now Fiat comes to America through a different parent company and with a new product lineup. The 4C sports car—shown at Geneva—will lead the charge serving affordable-halo-car duties, but the Giulia sedan will serve as the company’s mainstream sales leader. As Alfa’s key model in the US it’s vital to get it right, which is why its designers have been ordered to redo it by no less than Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne. ”I don’t think it’s an Alfa,” he said. ”You could take off the badge, and it could be German.”
Ouch. But this is Alfa Romeo we’re talking about, not some cut-price people schlepper—enthusiasts have dreamed of Alfa’s return for years, even after the brand ignominiously bowed out in 1994, leaving behind broken gaskets and broken hearts. Fiat aims to stay in America for a lot longer than they did, using their new Compact Wide architecture that underpins the Giulietta hatchback that was launched in Europe last year. The Compact Wide will also form the replacement for the Chrysler 200. For Ramaciotti, it’s a problem to design the new Giulia to this Fiat-originated platform and get the looks right to appeal to jaded American consumers.
And in typical non-PC Italian fashion, Ramaciotti had this to say about their efforts: “we are, in a way, like fashion designers, and if you have to make a suit for a model you can do things you can’t do if you have to make it for a fat lady.”
All of a sudden, it’s like they never left.
Get more: Alfa Romeo to Enter U.S. Market at AutoGuide.com