Skip to main content

Why RWD Only Is Wrong For Alfa Romeo

Nothing in the C-segment looks or drives like the Giulietta
Following Fiat's purchase of Chrysler new plans have been announced for Alfa Romeo - eight new models in the next five years, a move upmarket and a switch to rear wheel drive only. For those who look at Alfa Romeo as a competitor to BMW that sounds like a good move, but if Alfa Romeo is to hit it's target of selling 300,000 new cars a year it's a risky decision to take.

For most people espousing the benefits of a rear-wheel drive platform Alfa Romeo means cars like the 4C, SZ and a succession of beautiful coupes and spiders of the sixties and seventies. And there's no denying that the essence of the Alfa DNA is most visible in these cars.

However in terms of sales and success the most popular Alfa Romeos have been the more middle of the road family saloons. The best selling Alfa Romeo ever? That would be the 33. Followed by the Alfasud. Neither of these cars were humdrum or in any way boring. But they were aimed at the family car buying who was prepared to pay a small premium for a car which carried 'sportiness' in its genes, rather than having had it bolted on at the factory along with an XR or GT badge.

The best demonstration of this was an old seventies advert for the Alfetta, which showed a small boy walking around the family saloon with a pull-along toy pre-war Alfetta Grand Prix car. The tagline? "Turns Dads into heroes".

At it's heart an Alfa Romeo is not a BMW or an Audi and nor should it ever strive to be. Even the most basic Giulia, Alfasud, 33, 156 or Giulietta provokes an emotive response which comes from the soul. From design. From a sense of history. That some of these cars share common parts with Fiats makes no difference at all. In fact the economies of scale created by sharing these key components means that Alfa Romeos can be sold into market segments where they would otherwise not be viable. And for a company that needs volume that's very important.

FCA has to be careful that in its desire to pander to the petrolheads it doesn't abandon Alfa Romeo's core market of keen drivers with families who want something premium, without breaking the bank (or having to buy something horribly Teutonic!)

There's no argument that Alfa Romeo sportscars and the forthcoming large saloons should be rear wheel drive and premium. Abandoning the MiTo and Giulietta, however, isn't as clear cut an argument as it first appears.


Popular posts from this blog

F1: Robert Kubica Impresses In Renault Test Run

The car may be old but its the performance of the driver that's the story here. Robert Kubica returned to F1, after a fashion, earlier this week with an extensive test run in a 2012 Lotus Renault F1 car at Valencia.
The age of the car and the circuit were likely determined by F1's current rules which ban testing, but the reason for Kubica being in the car is far more interesting. Considered by many to be a potential World Champion and certainly one of the fastest drivers of his generation, Kubica's F1 career seemed to be over after a 2011 crash whilst driving in the Rally of Andora. His Skoda Fabia was penetrated by a guardrail in the high speed accident partially severing his right arm.
Up until last year Kubica has been competing in rallying, with the expectation that the limited movement in his repaired arm would prohibit a return to single seater racing.
So this week's test is both interesting and confusing. Interesting because Kubica completed 115 laps of the ret…

Panos Panay's Defence Of Microsoft Surface Hardware Sounds Eerily Familiar

This weekend I went out with my ten year old daughter to select a laptop for her school year beginning in January. The schools requirements are quite specific, requiring a Windows 10 device, with a preference for a touchscreen and a stylus. She chose a Surface Pro, after trying a large number of different options. Having seen the way I use my own Surface Pro - and tried it herself there was only ever going to be two options - and the other was a Surface Laptop.
I tell you this so that you understand I am a buyer of Microsoft's products through choice, not compulsion. I'm on my third Surface device now. 
So when Panos Panay dismissed reports of the death of the Surface hardware line, I was very interested to see exactly how strong these denials were. Especially how they reflect what has gone before. To whit: Windows 10 Mobile.
Panay claimed that Microsoft is in hardware for the long haul. Almost exactly mirroring the words of Terry Myerson, when he claimed Windows Mobile was g…

WhartonBrooks Indiegogo Windows 10 Mobile Even More Doomed To Failure Than Usual

WhartonBrooks is currently crowd-funding its latest Windows Mobile smartphone on Indiegogo. If crowdfunding isn't already a bad enough idea, a company trying to crowdfund a Windows Mobile device should be warning enough for you.
Not that anyone seems to be taking the project too seriously. With a few weeks left to run the campaign has managed to ensnare just 2% of its $1.1m target.
If you want a better indication of how few Window Mobile loyalists remain I doubt there is one. Of 3,900 Windows Phone enthusiasts Wharton Brooks was seeking for its new phone, it has managed to entice just 50.
Windows for Phones is dead, even if the corpse hasn't stopped twitching yet.