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Frankfurt show: Alfa flaunts another 4C concept

Silver service: Alfa’s sleek 4C Concept emerges with a ‘Fluid Metal’ metallic finish for Frankfurt.

Road-ready 4C fails to show at Frankfurt but Alfa finally produces auto Giuliettas

31 Aug 2011

WHEN Alfa Romeo promised via Facebook a few weeks ago to debut a “new look” for its stunning 4C Concept at next month’s Frankfurt motor show, we expected to see the final road-going version of the sleek new mid-engined rear-drive coupe that some had tipped to enter limited production by the end of this year.

Instead, Alfa has revealed its Frankfurt show stand will be headlined by a new ‘Fluid Metal’ metallic silver colour scheme for a show car that remains otherwise identical to the bright-red concept that attracted deep breaths at the Geneva show in March.

At the same time, it announced the production model will not go on sale until 2013 – the same year Alfa’s long-lamented US return is now due.

Worse still, the bold new two-seater sports car – designed to reinforce the Italian luxury brand’s “global growth plan”, which calls for a near-five-fold sales lift to 500,000 sales by 2014 – has still not been confirmed for right-hand drive production.

That means that, like the limited-edition 8C Competizione Coupe and Spider on which it is modelled, Alfa’s new “compact supercar” may not be sold in Australia, where the Brera and Spider are now in run-out and, with the GT now discontinued, the 100-year-old Milanese brand could be without a two-door sports car until it produces RHD versions of the more expensive 4C coupe and its roadster derivative.

26 center imageLeft: Alfa Romeo 4C concept. Middle: Alfa MiTo. Below: Alfa Giulietta with TCT.

Australians are also likely to have to wait for RHD versions of Alfa’s first compact SUV and the delayed replacement for the 159 mid-sizer, the Giulia, both of which will be volume sellers within Alfa’s North American launch line-up from 2013.

Two smaller new engines will also be announced at Frankfurt for the pint-size MiTo, but neither the twin-cylinder 0.9-litre TwinAir turbo-petrol or the 1.3 JTDM turbo-diesel will become available in Alfa’s entry-level hatchback in Australia.

For the record, both engines produce 92kW and are coupled with a fuel-saving idle-stop system, with the former delivering 145Nm and emitting as little as 98 grams of CO2 per kilometre, and the latter producing 200Nm and consuming just 3.5 litres of diesel per 100km.

There is some good Alfa news, however, with confirmation it will also use Frankfurt to finally unveil TCT twin dry-clutch automatic versions of the impressive new Giulietta hatch released here in January.

At the time, local Alfa importer Ateco Automotive said top-selling TCT-equipped versions of the hitherto manual-only Guilietta – for both the 125kW 1.4 TB MultiAir turbo-petrol and yet-to-arrive 2.0 JTDM turbo-diesel models, but not the top-shelf 173kW 1.75-litre turbo-petrol Quadrifolgio Verde – would arrive here by next month.

Now, it says the Giulietta TCT models will hit Australian showrooms in January, a full year after the Giulietta replaced the 147, potentially leaving it well short of its 1100-unit sales target, which was expected to contribute substantially to a 20 per cent overall sales increase for Alfa in Australia this year.

Just 321 Guilettas have been sold to July this year, along with 175 159s (down 33 per cent), 19 Breras (up 73 per cent) and 17 Spiders (up 112 per cent), making 201 examples of the MiTo (up 32 per cent) largely responsible for Alfa’s 26.2 per cent total sales increase so far in 2011.

At least potential Giulietta auto buyers will be pleased to know the TCT version of the entry-level 1.4 TB MultiAir is even more economical than the manual, which is currently priced from $36,990 and returns 5.9 litres per 100km.

Alfa claims the Giulietta 1.4 TCT will not only offer the best efficiency/performance ratio for a petrol model in its class (with a 0-100km/h acceleration claim of 7.7 seconds – one-tenth quicker than the manual), but also the best environmental credentials, with combined consumption of 5.2L/100km and CO2 emissions of 121g/km.

Meanwhile, Australia’s first diesel Giulietta, the 125kW 2.0 JTDM, will come with a TCT auto that makes it one-tenth quicker to 100km/h than the manual (7.9 seconds), as well as more efficient at 4.5L/100km (manual: 4.7L/100km) and 119g/km (manual: 124g/km).

For now we can also admire the rear-drive mid-engined 4C coupe’s formidable specifications, which have now been confirmed to include a kerb weight that will be “limited to roughly 850kg”, thanks largely to a body made completely from carbon-fibre and extensive use of aluminium for the rear frame structure and crash boxes.

Alfa says the result “guarantees exceptional agility with a weight/power ratio which is lower than 4kg/hp”, because the mould-breaking 4C’s 1.75-litre turbo-petrol four will deliver more than 200hp (147kW) – enough to propel it to 100km/h in less than five seconds and beyond 250km/h.

The red-blooded Latin brand has also confirmed the production 4C will measure only about four metres long, ride on a wheelbase of less than 2400mm with a unique double-wishbone front and MacPherson-strut rear suspension layout, feature 40/60 front/rear weight distribution and come with Alfa’s ‘DNA’ system to control throttle response, steering and suspension settings.

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