The Geneva Auto Show is one of the most anticipated events on the automotive calendar. It blows the CAA’s Care Car Month right out of the water.
But the show is always hard on North American auto enthusiasts, populated as it is with so much lovely forbidden European fruit.
Possibly the worst offender was Alfa Romeo, with its sublime, 8C Competizione. Only 1,000 examples were built during 2007 and 2008, and it might be one of the most beautiful GT cars ever built. The spider version isn’t too shabby either.
At Geneva this week, Alfa unveiled a successor to that 8C “halo” car — the Alfa Romeo 4C — and noted the vehicle will lead Alfa “back into markets such as the U.S., where we are not present today.” So not only is there a beautiful new Alfa sports car to behold, but it looks like it will come to North America.
The industry suspected that Alfa might return here, ever since Alfa’s parent company, Fiat, took over Chrysler. Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne hinted that future Alfa models might be built on world platforms that also underpin Chrysler and Dodge models.
Not sure if that’s in the spirit of Alfa Romeo, one of Europe’s most storied sporting marques. But the 4C, at least is, “all Alfa.” The rear-drive two-seater closely follows the 8C’s exotic formula. The chassis supports a body crafted completely from carbon fibre. The rear frame and “crash box” sections utilize a lot of aluminum.
Its 200-hp, 1.75-litre four cylinder engine features direct injection and turbocharging, and is positioned “centrally” in the rear of the vehicle.
The net result is a very low weight (less than 850 kg) and a very low centre of gravity. And the net result of that will certainly be deft handling and lots of get up and go, with an estimated top speed of 250 km/h alongside an estimated 0-100 km/h acceleration run in less than five seconds.
While technically still a “concept,” Alfa made it clear that the 4C “is not simply an exercise in style created for the Motor Show; it will be on sale in 2012 and is set to reinforce Alfa Romeo’s global growth.”
An interesting subplot with Alfa these days is that Volkswagen has publicly stated it would like to purchase Alfa. VW’s chairman, Ferdinand Piech, even went as far to say that the VW group, Europe’s largest car maker, would be able to quadruple Alfa’s current annual sales performance, which has been terrible for a while now.
Speaking at an industry conference last month, Marchionne said, “As long as I am CEO of Chrysler and Fiat, Mr. Piech will never have Alfa Romeo.”