To those of us who grew up in the 1990s and 2000s, the name Alfa Romeo became almost mystical the more we explored our interest in cars. They had a legendary status with people older than us, sparking a twinkle in our parents’ eyes or earning hero worship on Top Gear.
And yet… the Alfa Romeo cars we could actually see and dream of buying were a bit rubbish. It was difficult to reconcile the outpouring of love for classics such as the Spider, Giulietta, GTA, Giulia and the impossibly handsome Montreal with the likes of the uninspiring Brera, Spider and GT. The genuinely beautiful 159 wasn’t enough to offset a range of cars that for various reasons missed the mark by a margin.
There were highlights, often featuring a cloverleaf badge or GTA designation, and those disappointing cars of a decade ago have aged fantastically well, but for many years the brand we’ve known simply hasn’t aligned with the brand we learned so eagerly about.
Alfa’s status as a maker of cars that you’d do anything to own has been limited to its back catalogue. But that’s about to change. With the reincarnation of both the GTV and the 8C as hybrids for the 2020s, the so-called masters of passion might finally be about to live up to the billing the firm earned in the last century.
Firstly we’re getting a new GTV, and unlike the flimsy but striking one that James May picked as his ride in an Alfa-specific Top Gear challenge all those years ago, this one will be done properly. More than 600bhp, says Alfa’s plan, with a 50:50 weight distribution, all-wheel drive and torque vectoring for serious grip and agility.
It’ll have an ‘E-Boost’ function, too, which is likely to indicate an acceleration-pepping mild hybrid setup similar to those we’re expecting on the next Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R. Somehow there’ll be ‘room for four’ in this flared-shouldered beast, but we suspect that the rear chairs might preclude anyone with legs.
Literally nothing about this plan sounds bad. If Alfa pulls it off the way car guy goodwill wants it to, we’ll end up with a current model we can actually get – and stay – excited about for the first time since the 4C’s ultimately underwhelming flash in the pan. Alfa has been building a little form lately, though, and this time the drive will hopefully match up to the billing.
When the inevitable entry-level versions with 1750cc turbocharged four-pots arrive, the GTV we could realistically afford one day will return. So will the Alfa-lust.
A return for the 8C is of less direct relevance to us, unless one of us develops a viable get-rich-by-2022 scheme. You just know it’ll be silly money. As halo cars go, though, the plans for a 700bhp+ mid-engined hybrid sports machine are bang-on. Based around a carbonfibre monocoque, a twin-turbo engine powering the rear wheels balances an electrified front axle for forward-thinking power and the ability to drive in an EV mode. Exciting, no?
Alfa’s reputation has for so long been based on past products. The Giulia Quadrifoglio has restored some faith in the brand’s ability to set benchmarks and create cars we’ll be hankering after in the classifieds for years to come, but now comes the next stage of the process. Only time will tell whether we’ll be the ones with a twinkle in our eyes when we’re talking to our grandkids about Alfa Romeos. I sure as hell hope so.