Rear-wheel drive Alfa Romeo Giulietta for 2017

30 Dec, 2015 7:00am Lawrence Allan

Alfa bosses hints at shortened Giulia platform for next family hatch, due on sale in the next two years

The future is looking bright for Alfa Romeo. The racy Giulia saloon is set for launch late next year alongside an all-new SUV – and now a senior source at the company has revealed the next-generation Giulietta hatchback could be rear-wheel drive.

Our exclusive image shows what the next hatch could look like, with sporty styling heavily inspired by its saloon sibling, but a more practical and rounded shape.

At a recent FCA (Fiat-Chrysler Automobile) event, the group’s head of passenger vehicle design Alberto Dillilo revealed to Auto Express the next Giulietta will be based on a "shortened version of the Giulia’s platform”. When quizzed whether this would mean the family hatch would also be rear-wheel drive, Dillilo said: “it’s possible, technically, so we are considering it”.

Alfa Romeo SUV set for 2016 debut

However, rivals like the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series are also available with all-wheel drive, and it’s possible top-of-the-range Giuliettas could also be specced with this as an option. Given the rear-driven architecture would required minimal engineering to transfer from the Giulia, it makes little sense to convert it to front-wheel drive.

The revelations come as no surprise, after FCA confirmed plans to make its vehicle architecture as cost-effective as possible by spinning multiple bodystyles on single platforms. Given the significant investment it has put into the Giulia, Fiat-Chrysler bosses will be hoping to spread the cost with the next Giulietta. It will also help differentiate Alfa’s new line-up from the new family-oriented Fiats, as bosses feel the old Bravo and current Giulietta were too closely aligned.

What’s more, the rear-wheel drive setup is likely to give the new Giulietta a unique selling point. The current BMW 1 Series is the only rear-driven family hatchback on sale in Europe, but the next-generation car is likely to move over to the UKL1 modular front-wheel drive platform that underpins cars like the MINI and BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.

This gives Alfa the opportunity to turn the Giulietta into a truly sporty premium hatchback. A second Alfa spokesperson claimed the Giulietta’s current platform and suspension setup was “fine” and theoretically had “plenty of life left in it” – but that to be successful the Giulietta had to be “better than rivals, not just good enough”.

Of course, rear-wheel drive also opens the door to an ultimate performance model. There are no details of official powertrains yet, but the 503bhp Giulia Quadrifoglio (below) shows Alfa’s potential to truly upset the German establishment in terms of supercar-challenging sport saloons. To that end, there’s every possibility we’ll see a rear-driven Alfa Romeo Giulietta Cloverleaf to rival the BMW M135i, or a four-wheel drive Golf R challenger, with over 300bhp.

Further down the range, we should see the usual array of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, but expect the price tag for the entry-level car to surpass the £20,000 barrier, given the mechanical complexities of sending the driveshaft to the rear. We can expect more details of Alfa’s Giulietta after the launch of the Giulia, sometime next year.

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