Alfa Romeo’s New 1.8-Liter Turbo Four Might Come to the U.S.—But Probably in a Dodge or Chrysler
In typical form, Fiat managed to raise both of this writer’s eyebrows in a single day. First, it announced that Alfa Romeo will begin production of a new 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine in 2013. (More on why that’s weird in just a second.) But hidden in the news was a mention that Fiat’s sporty division should be back in the U.S. in 2013. The new engine is certainly intriguing, but given Alfa Romeo’s decade of delays in returning to the U.S. marketplace, our skepticism of the latter announcement would be best described as “off the charts.”
Out with the New, in with the New
The new 1.8-liter mill features an aluminum block—likely Fiat’s Multiair variable valve-lift tech—and direct-injection combined with a turbocharger. According to Alfa, the engine could produce up to 300 hp. Here’s the confusion: The company just recently introduced a 1.7-liter turbo four with Multiair in Europe, which makes over 230 hp. (You can read about this engine in our review of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.) Given Alfa’s desperate need for new products, like a replacement for the Byzantine-era 159 sedan and Brera coupe, the decision to replace one of the few fresh things in the company’s stable is questionable. We suspect that the new engine, by virtue of its aluminum block, will be based on Chrysler’s “World Gasoline Engine” family, which also includes the larger four-cylinder engines in the Dodge Caliber and Chrysler 200.
Alfa has described the engine in the context of the company’s alleged return to the U.S.—which, by the way, is now slated for 2013 again after being pushed to 2014 just a few weeks ago. But whether Alfa Romeo comes here or not, the 1.8-liter could easily find its way to our shores. Our spy photographers recently caught an Alfa Giulietta-based Dodge small car hot weather testing; the Dodge is expected by 2013, which is also when Alfa’s new 1.8-liter is set to go into production in Italy.
A small-but-powerful turbo four like this could potentially find its way under the hood of any number of vehicles, and Alfa designed its new 1.8-liter motor to fit both transverse and longitudinal applications, and to meet emissions regulations in the U.S. and in Europe. American-market Alfas may be as much vaporware as ever, but at least this new engine could land here.