This is the Alfa Romeo Gloria concept, first seen at the 2013 Geneva motor show and regarded as a preview of the planned 2015 front-wheel drive Giulia sedan. Now, imagine the front wheels pushed way forward to stretch the wheelbase and the rear axle tucked in to make space for an eight-speed ZF transaxle, and you have the makings of a compact luxury sedan that will compare favourably with the BMW 3 Series GT.

Alfa Romeo has always built sporty cars - even the boxy little Giulia sedan of the 1960's, so belowed of the Polizia Volante, went like a bomb, thanks to a high-revving twin-cam engine, a rear transaxle for perfect weight distribution and yes, Cyril, rear-wheel drive. Very important, that.

So the reports flying around the cybergarage that Alfa Romeo is planning to ditch its front wheel-drive Mito and Giulietta in the next couple of years and replace them with an Audi, BMW and Mercedes-focused range of rear and all wheel-drive cars and SUV's will be welcomed by Alfisti everywhere.

Which means the long-awaited new Giulia sedan will be delayed yet again.

According to UK Car Magazine's George Kacher, it's part of a radical new plan by Fiat/Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne to distance Alfa Romeo from Fiat's mass-market FWD offerings and align it rather as a junior partner to Maserati, possibly even using Maserati's twin-turbo V6 engines and eight-speed auto transmission in upmarket variants.


Kacher quotes Alfa insiders as saying they will be working closely with the guys who engineered the Ghibli and the new Quattroporte to develop a new, modular, rear-wheel drive platform on which to build four model lines - a reborn Giulia to take on the 3 Series, C-Class and A4 in 2015, followed by a 5 Series/E Class competitor, the Alfetta, in 2016 and two SUVS, an X1 rival in 2017 and an X3/Q5 killer in 2018.

Kacher reports that the new chassis will have to be significantly lighter than that of, say, the Brera or 159, with a longer wheelbase and much shorter overhangs for better handling.


That will give Alfa Romeo six rear wheel-drive model ranges, given that the 4C coupé - due to debut this year - and the as-yet-unnamed roadster based on the next-generation Mazda MX-5 that Marchionne has promised for 2015 are already RWD and will keep right on rolling.

Along with the radical restructure of its model line-up, Marchionne has reportedly reduced his medium-term volume target for Alfa Romeo from 400 000 to 300 000 cars a year - but that's still three times the current 100 000 and quite ambitious, given that he will need to steal market share from the Teutonic Autocracy to achieve it.