The most important car in Alfa's history

CHRIS HARRIS
Last updated 06:01 28/08/2012
An artist's impression of the 2014 Alfa Romeo Giulia.
CHRIS HARRIS/Fairfax Australia

COULD IT BE?: An artist's impression of the 2014 Alfa Romeo Giulia.

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This is probably the most important car in Alfa Romeo's 100-year history.

Due to be unveiled in 2014, the Giulia mid-size sedan will not only take on the might of Germany's big three (Audi A4, BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class), it will also lead the brand's return to the American market after a 17-year absence.

It is so important that the chief executive of the Fiat Group, Sergio Marchionne, pushed its launch back more than a year to redesign the exterior.

''I don't think it's an Alfa,'' he has been quoted as saying. ''You could take off the badge and it could be German.''

The front-wheel-drive Giulia is expected to be powered by the Fiat Group's range of turbocharged four-cylinder MultiAir petrol engines, frugal turbo diesels and the Chrysler Group's petrol V6 with all-wheel-drive for the flagship model, which is vital for the US market.

The volume-selling Giulia is expected to be powered by a 1.7-litre 1750 TBi, reworked to deliver more than the current unit's 147kW and 320Nm figures.

A thinly veiled version of the final car is expected to be revealed next year, possibly at April's New York motor show.

Although it will launch as a sedan, a wagon variant is expected to follow quickly, given the preference for load-luggers in Europe.

Alfa is also working on its first SUV to compete against the Audi Q5 and BMW X3, among others. It will share its underpinnings with the coming Jeep Liberty.

These volume-selling models will be followed by ''brand igniters'', in marketing speak, including the mid-engine 4C sports car and the reborn Spider, due in early 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Marchionne is betting on these four new models, together with the MiTo and Giulietta, to revive Alfa Romeo as a viable global premium brand.

-Fairfax Australia

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