Friday May 13, 2022

The Stellantis turnaround plan for Alfa Romeo that will hopefully turn the under-achieving premium Italian brand into a serious threat to BMW focuses heavily on a fleet of new SUVs and switch to electric power. Conspicuously absent from the plan is anything resembling a traditional two-seat roadster or coupe, the kind of machines Alfa Romeo was once famous for. Has Alfa given up on sports cars?

“Every single car in my lineup is a sports car,” the brand’s North America boss, Larry Dominique told us in response to that question, half joking. Alfa does, of course, pride itself as being a brand for people who like to drive, so every one of its cars, including its SUVs, claims to delivery a “sporty” driving experience.

But it’s also worth recognizing that sales of two-door cars have tanked in recent years. There are fewer coupes than ever, hot hatches now routinely come with four doors, and when brands like Acura decide to bring back an icon like the Integra, it’s not as a coupe, but as a glorified sedan, because that’s a configuration people are more likely to buy. From a volume perspective, traditional sports cars and coupes make no sense.

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“When you’re a brand that’s focusing on growth and driving customer satisfaction and profitability, it’s very clear what segments you need to participate in,” Dominique told us, referring to the C, D and E segments in which the Tonale, Giulia, Stelvio and still-secret large cars will compete respectively. “When we look at technological investment and investment dollars we want to make sure we’re covering those core model volume categories first.”

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Alfa wants to fix its core volume lineup before heading into halo-car territory

But Dominique understands how useful it can be from a marketing and brand awareness perspective for a company trying to get its foot in the door to have a halo model.

“A halo model is important to the brand and is likely in addition to the core models,” he told us. “But what we do and how often we do it could vary. We could do a very limited edition super sports car or we could do a modest volume Spider replacement.”

What seems less likely is that Alfa would take another shot at something in between that was technically advanced but sold in very small numbers, and for a relatively ordinary price.

“If you did a 4C Spider replacement that would be a very modest volume. There’s just not enough audience to support a high volume of that thing,” Dominique conceded, before striking a more positive tone.

“But that doesn’t mean we can’t do some independent things. Our sister brand Maserati has done that. I wanna make sure we’re looking at every opportunity, so what I’d say is hang on, you never know when you’re going to hear stuff.”

Who else would love to see Alfa’s 8C make a comeback using the Maserati MC20 base?

You never know when you’re going to hear stuff? That sounds to us like Alfa might surprise us sooner rather than later with something fun. But what should it be? Should Alfa get a detuned version of Maserati’s mid-engined MC20 baby supercar that was allegedly originally meant to be an Alfa anyway? Should it buddy up with BMW or Mazda to turn the Z4 or MX-5 into a next generation front-engined Spider? Or should it jump onto the Lotus-Alpine electric sports car project? Leave a comment and let us know what you’d like to see Alfa Romeo do next.

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