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First look: GTA go for Alfa MiTo

Guns blazing: The Alfo MiTo GTA packs 180kW.

Alfa Romeo waves its GTA wand over the new MiTo mini-car

24 Feb 2009

THE Alfa Romeo MiTo is not due to go on sale in Australia until mid-2009, but already Alfa has applied a blow torch to its all-new entry-level Mini fighter, as these first images of the production-ready MiTo GTA Concept reveal.

Powered by Fiat’s all-new 1.7-litre (officially labelled a 1.75-litre, with a displacement of 1742cc) turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which employs direct petrol injection and dual variable valve timing to produce up to 180kW, Alfa’s latest GTA will follow the garden-variety MiTo on sale in 2010.

While the Fiat Punto-based MiTo hatchback range will kick off from about $32,000 as Alfa Romeo’s new entry-level model, expect the GTA (Gran Turismo Alleggerito – the latter meaning lighter weight in Italian) to cost up to $45,000 when it finally arrives here as a direct rival to the Mini Cooper S (from $39,900) and Cooper JCW hatch ($48,800).

By then a replacement for its larger sibling, the 147 hatch is likely to have emerged globally, badged as the Alfa Romeo Milano – a nameplate that was revealed by Chrysler as part of its long-term viability plan, which includes a product-sharing deal with Alfa’s Fiat Group parent, presented to the US administration last week.

26 center imageIf the Chrysler-Fiat deal is approved by US congress, both the Alfa Romeo and Fiat brands will make their return to the US for the first time in decades.

The Milano name, which has been used for a number of limited-edition Alfa models over the years, will be applied to the 147 replacement that had originally been scheduled to emerge at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show in September, but which will now debut publicly in 2010.

Also revealed by Chrysler last week was the Giulia nameplate, which will be revived for the model that succeeds the 159 sedan and wagon in 2011. Long associated with mid-size models from the red-blooded Italian maker, the Giulia moniker reflects the fact that Alfa’s numeric model naming convention has simply run out of numbers.

The 159 will itself be the subject of a mild facelift to also appear at Geneva next week before going on sale in Australia in 2010, but it will be far less significant than the upgraded, lighter-weight 2009 model year 159 range that is now on sale here.

GoAuto understands that Alfa Romeo will use the opportunity presented by its scheduled factory stand-down to put the results of its ongoing development work into production.

As for the newest GTA hyper-hatch model, Alfa says the flagship MiTo “prioritises weight reduction and the achievement of an optimum power-to-weight ratio”.

To that end it is fitted with a carbon-fibre tailgate spoiler, roof and mirror scalps, as well as aluminium brakes, suspension and other chassis components, but how much of this graces the production car, which is expected to hit Europe in mid-2009, remains to be seen.

The GTA concept also rides 20mm lower than the standard MiTo, which has received a maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating, and features a more aerodynamic under-floor design, while all-new rear suspension bushings and advanced damping control are claimed to combine to offer an ‘active’ suspension system with ‘Sky-Hook’ damping function.

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