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Alfa Romeo returning to rear-wheel-drive


According to a report, Italian carmaker Alfa Romeo plans on ceasing production of front-wheel drive-hatchbacks and shift to rear-wheel-drive models in early 2015.

A car magazine claims that the front-wheel-drive Alfa Romeo Mito and Giulietta hatches – which are currently the brand’s only models – will be dropped in favor of the more dynamically preferential rear-wheel-drive models. It is not thought that the upcoming Alfa Romeo 4C sports car, nor the next-generation MX-5-based Spider – due in 2014 and 2015 respectively – are included under this transition because both those models have been designed as rear-wheel-drive models.

It appears that this is part of a strategy of Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, keen to see a much closer collaboration between the Alfa Romeo and Maserati marques in a move that will sure please the fans of the Italian brand’s rear-wheel-drive heritage.

According to this report, the Alfa Romeo will launch a RWD Guilia in 2015 as a rival for the BMW 3 Series, with a challenger for the 5 Series, dubbed the Alfetta, to then follow in 2015. There are two SUVs also planned, with one likely to be based on the Maserati Levante. Expected to launch in 2017, it will battle the compact BMW X1, with the second to face models like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 in 2018.

But these plans still hinge on recent comments by Marchionne, who earlier mentioned and threatened to move the production of new Alfa Romeo models out of Italy because the company is struggling with local labor laws and under-utilized factories.

The move from FWD to RWD is quite profound, and the company’s head has long expressed the importance of having rear-wheel-drive dynamics to take on German rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Maserati technology, this includes the brand’s new V6 engines, will be on the table for Alfa along with ZF’s eight-speed automatic transmission, but the plan means the long-delayed Giulia will be pushed back further from the 2014 launch date.

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