Alfa Romeo announced on Friday that it will produce a supercar that could go up against the likes of Ferrari, McLaren, and Porsche.
The upcoming coupe, which will be called the 8C, will run on a turbo-charged mid-engine, using an all-wheel-drive electric drive system. Total output will equal at least 700 horsepower, according to the report, with a zero- to 60-miles-per-hour sprint time of fewer 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 "specialty" 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 SUVs and crossovers dominate. Most of the eight cars Alfa has promised to make for the U.S. market in the next few years are indeed large. Last year, the Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV received high marks among consumer and in critical reports, so one might expect the brand to keep producing new models to compete with Porsche's best-selling Macan or Jaguar's excellent-value F-Pace.
But global sales are providing a strong foundation for innovation, rising more than 160 percent over the past five years, to 170,000 units expected to be sold in 2018, vs. 66,000 sold in 2014. North America is expected to contribute 16 percent of total sales for 2018, compared to no new cars sold there in 2013.
The brand had 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.
Industry watchers have been awaiting significant news since Tim Kuniskis, the former head of Dodge's extreme SRT division, among other things, was named global head of Maserati and Alfa Romeo. Parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV announced the shuffle in February.
Kevin Tynan, senior automotive analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, says Kuniskis's background bodes well for a more-aggressive edge when it comes to driving performance at the 108-year-old brand.
"The man kept Dodge in the spotlight with Scat packs, Hellcats, and Demons, so an Alfa fire-breather is right in Tim's wheelhouse," Tynan says. "If the SRT vehicles are any indication, I would expect Alfa to get very relevant very quickly with Tim at the helm."
That's not to mention Alfa Romeo's extensive racing history, including Formula 1 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 from 2007 to 2010 in honor of the eight-cylinder (cilindro in Italian) engine (8C) and Alfa Romeo's racing pedigree (competizione, Italian for competition).
A representative from the brand declines to give more specifics about the future 8C, except to say that by 2022, sports cars and supercars will make up 5 percent of Alfa's global sales. In a statement, Kuniskis reiterated how crucial it will be 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," said Kuniskis. "We have learned that when we stay true to Alfa DNA, we can stand out in any segment."
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