As Alfa Romeo’s product renaissance gathers momentum through new performance-oriented products like the Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV, the brand’s chief has revealed that smaller cars may be off the table for now.
Talking with Autocar at the Geneva Motor Show, head of Alfa Romeo and Maserati, Reid Bigland, revealed that the current Giulietta and Mito, which launched in 2010 and 2008 respectively, would “stay for the foreseeable future” but the future of the two small front-wheel drive hatchbacks was less clear.
With a newly developed ‘Giorgio’ chassis underpinning the Giulia and Stelvio, configured for rear and all wheel drive and honed to be more driver-centric, Mr Bigland described Alfa’s legacy products as “very good cars but not at the same level as the Giulia and Stelvio.”
Mr Bigland also explained that Alfa Romeo’s future direction would have a more global approach, concentrating on key growth markets for the brand including Asia and North America, where Alfa Romeo has recently relaunched.
That means compact cars, which represent a huge slice of the European sales pie, will take a back seat to the development of larger products that align with regional growth patterns, particularly in China and the USA. Unconfirmed rumours suggest the Mito (which has already been withdrawn from sale in Australia) could be discontinued overseas as early as May 2017.
The next product from the brand will be a second SUV to join the Stelvio according to Mr Bigland, though the decision is yet to be made on whether that is larger or smaller than the Stelvio. Market demands will be the deciding factor in the end, with Alfa Romeo chasing volume markets first before considering smaller niches.
The changes to Alfa Romeo’s future product plans also put the final nail in the coffin for parent company Fiat Chrysler’s five-year plan, originally announced in 2014 which promised seven new models by 2018, of which only two: Giulia and Stelvio, have surfaced.
Under the initial program a pair of replacement small hatches were to have surfaced by the end of 2016 – potentially switching to rear wheel drive in the process – while a second sports car to sit alongside the 4C was also a part of the plan though that program turned into the Fiat 124 Spider instead.
That’s not to say that a small hatch is entirely off the cards though, with an eventual Giulietta successor likely to adopt a scaled-down version of the Giorgio platform, creating a rear wheel drive hatchback similar to BMW’s current 1-Series hatch – which by that stage will have itself switched to front-wheel drive, giving Alfa’s eventual small hatch a unique point of difference.
Five-year plans for Chrysler and Jeep have also fallen into disarray, with product delays and changes for almost all Fiat Chrysler brands.
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