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Sneak Peek: Alfa-Romeo GTA Mito

Alfa’s next model for the US

by on Feb.26, 2009

The Alfa-Romeo Mito GTA may soon join the high-performance 8C in U.S. showrooms.

The Alfa-Romeo Mito GTA may soon join the high-performance 8C in U.S. showrooms.

Despite its long absence, there are legions of American fans desperate for the return of the Alfa-Romeo brand. The Italian maker, a subsidiary of Fiat S.p.A., staged a sort-of comeback, last year, with the launch of the high-performance 8C, but volumes are so low, few will ever see, let alone drive, the sensual sports car.

With Fiat now talking a global joint venture with Chrysler, Alfa’s commitment to a true, U.S. return seems to be taking root. We’ll get a good look at the model to follow the 8C at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show: the GTA version (Gran Turismo ‘Alleggerito’, which means lighter) of the Mito, the small car that that went on sale in Europe last year. With 240 hp, the Mito GTA promises to be a true rocket.

It’s been quite some years since Fiat abandoned the States, but, in 2001, Roberto Testore, then general director of Fiat Auto S.p.A., told me in an interview that he planned a return of the Alfa brand to the U.S. in three to four years. Oops.

At that time, the Fiat-GM joint venture would have made the move easier and it would also allow Fiat to use GM dealers. The plan was to start with the new Spider. Of course, by discontinuing the joint venture, the plans had to be put in the refrigerator.

By the end of November 2008, Fiat confirmed its plans to cross the Ocean and that it would use the dealer network of its sibling brand, Maserati, to market some of its existing models, the 159 sedan, the Brera, the Spider – and, of course, the 8C — plus two new models, that would only be available after 2010.

In an interview with The Financial Times, last November, Fiat’s CEO Sergio Marchionne also said he would consider expanding production of Alfa-Romeo cars and Iveco trucks to North America. Marchionne also said that he wanted to introduce the Fiat 500 in the U.S. That opportunity, as has reported, is dependent upon Chrysler winning new financial assistance from the federal government.

If the planned deal between Chrysler LLC and Fiat S.p.A. comes to a conclusion this spring, the new partnership will be able market new vehicles of the Fiat Group in North America through the Chrysler/Dodge dealerships. They could be assembled at Chrysler plants in the U.S.

Along with the Fiat 500 mini car, the sporty little Mito would give Fiat and Alfa the opportunity to compete with the likes of the Mini Cooper and the Audi A3.

Mito is a combination of the first letters of Milano and Torino (Turin), the two cities that have played an important part in the history of Alfa Romeo. The model targets a young and sporty group of customers with elements of the amazing 8C Competizione – but at a decidedly more affordable price.

We’re waiting for more details about the GTA Concept, but we might not see much before the Geneva Motor Show debut. What we can tell you is that the weight reduction of the Mito GTA has been realized by using carbon fibre for the roof and rear spoiler and aluminium for the chassis and suspension. Apart from the lower weight, the center of gravity has been lowered. And that should add up to one seriously fun drive.

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