Stellantis’ transformation plan for Alfa Romeo, which we hope will turn the under-represented Italian premium brand into a serious threat to BMW, is heavily focused on a fleet of new SUVs and the switch to electric power. Obviously absent from the plan is anything like a traditional two-seater roadster or coupe, the kind of machinery Alfa Romeo was once famous for. Has Alfa abandoned sports cars?
“Every car in my collection is a sports car,” Larry Dominic, Head of Brand North America, told us in response to this question, half-jokingly. Alfa, of course, prides itself on being a brand for people who love to drive, so every one of its cars, including SUVs, claims to offer a “sports” driving experience.
But it is also worth recognizing that sales of two-door cars have been declining in recent years. There are fewer coupes than ever, hot hatches now routinely come with four doors, and when brands like Acura decide to re-code like the Integra, it’s not a coupe, but a glorified sedan, because that’s the configuration people are more than likely to buy. From a size perspective, traditional sports cars and coupes make no sense.
“When it’s a brand focused on growth and driving customer satisfaction and profitability, it’s very clear what sectors you need to be involved in,” Dominic told us, referring to sectors C, D and E in which the Tonale, Giulia and Stelvio will compete and the still-secret big cars Straight. “When we look at technology investment and investment dollars, we want to make sure that we cover these basic model size categories first.”
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But Dominic realizes how useful this can be from a marketing and brand awareness perspective for a company trying to put its foot in the door for a halo model.
“The halo model is important to the brand and is likely to be in addition to the base models,” he told us. But what we do and how often we do it may vary. We can make a very limited edition super sports car or we can make a modest size replacement for a spider.”
What seems less likely is for Alfa to take another shot at something in between that was technically advanced but sold in very small numbers and at a relatively regular price.
“If you replace the 4C Spider it will be a very modest size. There is not enough audience to support a large number of this thing,” Dominic admitted, before putting on a more positive tone.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t do some independent things. Sister brand Maserati has done so. I want to make sure we’re looking at every opportunity, so what I’m going to say is on hold, you never know when you’re going to listen to things.”
You never know when you’re going to listen to things? It seems to us that Alpha may surprise us sooner rather than later with something fun. But what should it be? Should Alfa get a modified version of the small, mid-engine Maserati MC20 supercar that was allegedly originally an Alfa model anyway? Should you team up with BMW or Mazda to convert your Z4 or MX-5 into the next generation front-wheel-drive Spyder? Or should you jump into the Lotus-Alpine electric sports car project? Leave a comment and let us know what you’d like Alfa Romeo to do next.