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Geneva show: Alfa sedan shapes up for US, China

Gloria days: Alfa Romeo is yet to say if the Gloria concept has a showroom future, but if it does it will be in the US and China.

Alfa Romeo revives Gloria name in sedan concept developed by Turin design students

18 Feb 2013

ALFA ROMEO is making no bones about addressing its glaring weakness in the world’s two biggest markets, America and Asia, even directing students at Turin’s European Design Institute to come up with a fresh design to appeal specifically to customers in those regions.

Here is the result – a coupe-like sedan concept called Gloria that will star at next month’s 2013 Geneva motor show.

Developed jointly by 20 college masters students and the Alfa Romeo Style Centre, Gloria is 4700mm long and 1920mm wide, splitting the difference in size between the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series and their European equivalents.

Alfa says Gloria is designed to accommodate a “state of the art” V6 or bi-turbo V8, should it go into production.

Although the Gloria name invokes memories of the boxy, inelegant, long-running Nissan Gloria in Japan, the slinky Alfa version could be the star of the Swiss show.

A pointy nose carries the Alfa shield, with knife-edge LED headlights to either side.

Two leather strips appear to fasten the trailing edge of the bonnet in what Alfa says pays homage to the straps that once held the luggage of Alfa travelers before enclosed boots came into vogue.

The rear passenger doors open suicide-style to enhance entry to the back seat, behind which is a sawn-off boot with a tiny rear overhang that emphasises the coupe look.

Alfa’s initial instruction to the students was to conceive “an Alfa Romeo saloon to communicate to the American and Asian markets”.

Alfa said the sedan remained a symbol of elegance and prestige for these markets, “associated with the idea of comfortable space both at the front and the rear, expressed by the length of the model”.

Head of Fiat Chrysler Design Lorenzo Ramaciotti said Alfa asked the students to provide an independent interpretation of a new Alfa Romeo saloon.

“During development, we commented, discussed and guided the projects in order to get the most from their spontaneous expressions of creativity,” he said.

“The result was stimulating and marked by professional and creative excellence.” Rather than just leave the students to it, Alfa designers threw their weight behind the project, helping to progress the design from 20 different style proposals up to the development, in clay, of the chosen model in 1:1 scale.

Alfa is yet to say if the design has any likelihood of making it into production, but it might well consider it for the US, where the Alfa brand has been absent for 18 years, and China, where Alfa’s European rivals, especially Audi, have a massive head start.

Alfa’s return to North America this year will be spearheaded by the new 4C small sports coupe and assisted by its new global partner Chrysler.

In China, the company is yet to even establish a beachhead, but Fiat has signed a joint-venture deal with Guangzhou Automobile Group to establish a factory to produce Fiats and Alfas in Hunan province within two years.

Alfa is set to formally launch the 4C at the Geneva motor show – the place it made its debut in concept form two years ago.

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