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Future models - Alfa Romeo - 156

Red-blooded Alfa invasion on the horizon

Up next: The 156 GTA will be launched at the end of August, as the second of at least four new Alfa models to hit the streets before Christmas.

The facelifted 156 JTS heads a huge Alfa Romeo product rollout

9 Aug 2002

ALFA Romeo is planning a massive rollout of new product over the next few years, starting this week with the release of the facelifted 156 JTS model.

It will be followed later this month by the high-performance, 184kW 156 GTA and then JTS versions (manual and Selespeed) of the 156 Sportwagon around October/November.

Another GTA version, this time of the 147, should arrive towards the end of the year after its debut at the Paris motor show in September. It will run essentially the same drivetrain as the 156 GTA.

Automatic transmission variants of 147 and 156 are also due over the next 18 months - meaning autos will be available in almost all Alfa models - which Alfa Romeo Australia expects will help to nearly double its sales.

The new products schedule is:2003:
*156 GTA Selespeed, arriving around three to four months after 147 GTA.

* A two-door coupe version of the 147, to possibly use the classic Alfa name Sprint, will be shown at either the Geneva or Frankfurt motor shows. It will have a revised 147 front end, all-new styling from the A-pillar back and be launched with the JTS engine to separate it from the regular 147 models.

* 147 facelift in the second half of 2004 for 2005 model year, with JTS engines introduced across the range.

* New Spider will be a dedicated sports car with a Mercedes-Benz SLK-style folding steel roof. Alfa intends to go back into the North American market with this car.

* New GTV, which will return the GTV nameplate to where it was originally, as a four-seat two-door coupe.

Both Spider and GTV models will be offered with front and 4WD drivetrains with "power up to 450-500hp at the top end", according to Alfa Romeo Australia public relations manager Edward Rowe.

If correct, that sort of engine power would come in the form of a Maserati-derived naturally aspirated V8, although it begs the question as to what sort of power Maserati will have for its own engine if a customer unit is approaching 500hp.

"Alfa Romeo wants to take on the Germans - not only BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz - but also Porsche," Mr Rowe said.

* 156 replaced by 157 - three variants: sedan, wagon and two-door pillarless coupe with 2WD and 4WD.

* 166 replaced by 167 - two variants: a four-door sedan and two-door pillarless coupe.

* SUV - two versions planned: one for Fiat along more traditional 4WD lines and one for Alfa Romeo that will have more focus on performance and style.

With such an expansive range of products due to arrive in the next few years, Alfa Romeo Australia is clearly confident of increasing its sales volume and growing market share for the Italian marque.

"As a franchise I think we are certainly going to be up there with the Germans and hopefully knocking on their door," Alfa importer Ateco Automotive governing director Neville Crichton said.

Alfa Romeo Australia has forecast sales of close to 3000 units for this year. To the end of July the Italian marque had sold 1452 units, a 40 per cent increase on the same period for 2001.

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