Alfa Romeo is to produce a supercar that could go up against the likes of Ferrari, McLaren, and Porsche.
The forthcoming coupe, which will be called the 8C, will run on a turbocharged, mid-engine and use an all-wheel drive, electric-drive system, the Italian car maker said on Friday.
Total output will equal at least 700 horsepower, according to the report, with a 0-60mph (96.5km/h) sprint time of less than 3 seconds. No top speed was announced.
Alfa’s news came packaged with the report that the Fiat-owned brand will also launch more SUVs and another “speciality” model as well, a Giulia-based coupe called the GTV.
The supercar component comes as a bit of a leap for a brand that is just returning in full force to American soil, where luxury sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and crossovers – cars that combine the characteristics of SUVs and hatchbacks – dominate.
The bulk of the eight cars Alfa has promised to make for America in the next few years are indeed large. And last year the Giulia saloon and Stelvio SUV received high marks among consumer and critical reports.
So it might be more likely that the brand will keep producing new things that could compete with Porsche’s bestselling Macan or Jaguar’s excellent-value F-Pace.
Yet, global sales are providing a strong foundation for innovation, rising more than 160 per cent in the past four years to 170,000 units expected to be sold in 2018 compared with 66,000 units sold in 2014.
North America is expected to comprise 16 per cent of total sales for 2018, compared with zero in 2013, when Alfa Romeo sold no new cars there.
The brand had even previously hinted it might produce a single “sporty” car by the end of 2018.
After all, for any historic brand to be considered a legitimate contender in the current luxury playing field, it must produce a “halo car” – a vehicle that aims to attract attention from its rivals.
Industry watchers have been waiting for significant news since Tim Kuniskis, the former head of Dodge’s extreme SRT [street and racing technology] division, among other things, was named global head of Maserati and Alfa Romeo. Parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced the move in February.
Kevin Tynan, senior automotive analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, said Kuniskis’ background could bode well for a more aggressive edge to driving performance at the 108-year-old brand.
“The man kept Dodge in the spotlight with Scat packs [optional-extra kits] and [cars such as] Hellcats, and Demons, so an Alfa fire-breather is right in Tim’s wheelhouse,” Tynan said.
“If the SRT vehicles are any indication, I would expect Alfa to get very relevant very quickly with Tim at the helm.”
That is not to mention Alfa Romeo’s extensive racing history, including Formula One championships in the early 1950s, victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the 1930s, and multiple wins at the prestigious vintage rally Mille Miglia.
The modern 8C takes its name from the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, a sports car produced between 2007 and 2010 honouring the eight-cylinder engine (8C) and Alfa Romeo’s racing pedigree (competizione, which is Italian for “competition”).
A representative from the brand declined to give more details about the future 8C, except to say that by 2022, sports cars and supercars would make up 5 per cent of Alfa Romeo’s global sales.
Kuniskis said in a statement it would be crucial for the brand to produce something more exciting than just another SUV.
“We know our future depends on staying true to our sports car roots,” Kuniskis said.
“We have learned that when we stay true to Alfa DNA, we can stand out in any segment.”