All it took was one little article in CAR magazine for the auto blogosphere to light up with a million different re-purposed versions of the same report. And what a joyous bit of news it is; Alfa Romeo is going to be rear-drive only from now on.
We decided to run the piece because it comes from Georg Kacher, a respected journalist who is known for having his finger on the pulse of the industry. If he says Alfa is planning to move to rear drive platforms, they probably are. But the big problem is that they are planning it. Nobody said anything about actually doing it.
Alfa Romeo has planned plenty of things before. Like a return to America that never seems to materialize. It hasn’t gotten better under the Sergio Marchionne regime either, with flip-flops on future product (especially Alfa) becoming standard operating procedure. Personally, I could care less if they make it over here. Whatever they make is never going to live up to cars like the GTV, Junior,
Berlinetta Giulia Berlina and Duetto, largely because Alfa’s absence has caused the enthusiast crowd to lionize the brand to the point where it can never meet their outsized expectations. And because Mazda has managed to fill that void by offering products that are just a bit better at resisting corrosion.
With the new Chrysler/Maserati rear-drive platform waiting in the wings and the Mazda collaboration with the Duetto, it’s certainly feasible for Alfa Romeo to go all RWD. But don’t be surprised if Alfa Romeo scraps the “rear drive only” plans and goes back to using front-drive. Marchionne and his crew are liable to change their plans quicker than Italy changes governments. Front-drive has a lot of advantages as far as packaging and efficiency go. These factors matter quite a bit in Europe, and as early as May, 2012, the plan was for FWD products with the large rear-drive sedan left on the cutting room floor. All of a sudden, things have changed.
Again, I won’t mind, as long as something materializes. Some of the better modern Alfas, like the 156, 159 and anything with a “GTA” badge on it, were all “wrong wheel drive” and hardly anyone complained.