Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Renault and Alfa... from the distant past

Whilst contemplating FIAT "buying" 35% of the disabled Chrysler I stumbled over an interesting previous arrangement that Alfa (now owned by FIAT) had with Regie Renault: The 8 design looks very similar to the Alfa Romeo front-wheel drive prototype tipo 103[1] (1960), because Alfa Romeo and Renault had a business relationship in the 1950s and 1960s. Renault was marketing Alfa Romeo cars and Alfa Romeo was building the Renault Dauphine (1959–1964), Ondine (an up-market version of the Dauphine) (1961–1962) and R4 (1962–1964) under license in Italy. In total 70,502 Dauphine/Ondine and 41,809 R4's were built by Alfa Romeo.[1]

If I knew that, I'd forgotten it! I do remember the Alfa and Nissan (ie ARNA) tie-up, and the FIAT and GM deal (that FIAT drew most benefit from, methinks.)

Nice Mito review - but otherwise rubbish

Nice review of the sensibly-sized 1.4l Mito Benzina but why do they ruin it with unsubstantiated generalisations like this:Take a look at the 2300B and 2900B tourers from the Thirties to see what I mean. It had another brilliant run in the Sixties with its production car-based GTAs, but it all went wrong in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. Alfas weren't pretty any more. In fact, to be honest, they were rubbish.

All of the '70s Bertone-bodied cars, the Spiders, the Alfasud, the sleek Alfasud Sprint, the lovely Alfettas (especially the GT and GTVs)... to call them all rubbish says that this writer has (a) no idea and (b) will write anything just to stir things up. Add on top of that the GTV6, the 164, the 156, the 147... sure they had some duds, too, but they were never as bad as the press made out (unless they completely rusted away, which admittedly did happen at times).

It would have been a decent read, otherwise.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Alfa 159 gets a refresh

Sales down, Alfa resorts to crisper sheetmetal.. Of all the cars in the world, the Alfa 159 is one of the last we would have thought needed a refresh. Unfortunately, the sedan's styling hasn't translated into a market success for the Italian automaker, so they've opted for a facelift. Thankfully they haven't messed with the near perfection of the 159's lines too much, sharpening up the already razor-sharp lines in the hope that the updated 159 will help the brand hold down the C-segment in Europe until the Giulia that's set to replace it rolls around late next year.

Chrysler? Some goss on what FIAT and Alfa are planning...

Oh dear. Maybe this Chrysler deal is for real.

Testing of the Milano is in its final stages ahead of a launch at Geneva in 2010. This prototype, snapped recently, appears to have a stubby gearlever. It carries an AMT designation on a window sticker, which refers to a dual-clutch transmission that Alfa is developing. Documentation released recently by Chrysler to support its claim for funds from the US government lists dual-clutch transmissions as one of the technologies it is hoping to ‘borrow’ from the Fiat Group. The Milano is also understood to be based on an all-new platform, rather than a highly modified Bravo chassis. Alfa’s replacement for the 159, the Giulia, will be built on a long-wheelbase version of the platform. It is due in late 2011. Chrysler’s planning document suggests that Alfa’s 166 flagship will make a comeback as a platform variant of the rear-drive 300C, a car based on the mid-1990s Mercedes W210 E-Class.

OK, so Milano replaces the 147, the Giulia replaces the 159 and the 166 comes back from the dead based on the ugliest block of metal on the planet (OK, maybe the Nitro is worse) the 300C. I'm definitely not in that market, anyway!

New from Alfa - "multair" electro-hydraulic valves for "Milano"

Well it may not be totally new in concept, but at least FIAT is trying to pack as much efficiency into its petrol engines as it can... Alfa Romeo will pave the way for a major overhaul of its range in 2010 and 2011 by revealing its Multiair direct-injection petrol engines at the Geneva show. The Multiair units will be seen first in next year’s replacement for the 147 hatch, due to take on the name Milano.

So the new 147 will be called "Milano"? As in an Alfa 75-replacement? We shall see.

Some MiTo GTA pics

Worth a look if you like small, hot cars... MiTo GTA.

Ahh thatt's better - small and almost affordable


Externally, the Veloce can be distinguished by red brake callipers, a rear spoiler, a sports rear bumper with an air-extractor, and exclusive 17-inch alloys. And you can distinguish the 155 version from the fact that it is probably pulling away from you. Press the DNA button forward and wait for Dynamic to kick in - it's not instant - and you can feel the revs change as the throttle-response is re-geared, as if a miniature after-burner has been ignited. And the thing is, you know it's meant to feel that way. Compared to, say, the VW Polo, which is first and foremost a rather passive city car beefed up for the GTi version, the Alfa Romeo Mita strikes you as having been born a 155 Veloce, and then developed into milder versions to satisfy a compliance officer in his small, germ-free, risk-assessed office somewhere in the corner of the factory. I guess the lesser models are for regular blood-donors - you would have to be a few pints short not to choose the 155.

Skip the GTA, go for the MiTo Veloce 155 then?

Well it looks great but how much will it cost??

I'm not sure my budget will stretch this far....

The cover has finally come off of Alfa Romeo's hyper hot hatch. The high-performance Mito GTA concept will take the stage in Geneva with aggressive styling, less weight, a stiffer suspension, and 240 horsepower.