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Alfa flexes its muscle - with help from Maserati


Iconic Italian car maker Alfa Romeo is about to turn the supercar business on its ear with the stunning 8C Coupe which goes on sale in Europe in September, 2008.

Its Alfa’s first real supercar since the elegant Montreal V8 of the 1970s, and the purposeful, Zagato-designed SZ Coupe and RZ convertibles of the late 1980s early 1990s.

But delectable as they are – the RZ and SZ are highly-prized collector’s cars – those earlier super-Alfas pale into performance insignificance against the 8C.

Where the SZ had a top speed of more than 150mph (250km/h), the 8C is good for around 180mph (280km/h).

Where the SZ sprinted to 100km/h in around seven seconds, the 8C will make the dash in a shade over four.

The 8C debuted as a show car in Frankfurt in 2003 – it came down under for the Sydney motor show – and Alfa said it would turn it into a production model with virtually no changes.

Although the first models are destined for Europe – and all are rumoured to be pre-sold – the 8C is tipped to lead Alfa’s proposed 2009 return to the crucial US market.

The 8C is a compact two-seat coupe – plans for a convertible have been abandoned – that draws on the expertise of established supercar maker and fellow Fiat group member, Maserati.

Indeed, Maserati provides the V8 that’s used in the new Alfa.

Reports say that Maserati engine and the 8C’s likely high price (around $400,000) almost caused the project to be stillborn.

Factions within Alfa said neither was compatible with the Milanese brand’s traditions. It’s understood Alfa will sell 500 in Europe and follow that up with a further 99 for the US.

Maserati will build the cars in a separate section of its Modena factory. Production is set to start next September.

The 8C’s engine is a version of Maserati’s V8, enlarged to 4.7-litres (although some sources are reporting 4.6 litres).

The V8 will develop 336kW of maximum power, peak torque of 470Nm, and rev to 7000rpm.

It will transmit its power to the rear wheels using a rear-mounted six-speed manual or a sequential-manual gearbox.

The bodywork will be carbon-fibre, atop a chassis developed from the Maserati Coupe’s.

The 8C has a 2596mm wheelbase, and is expected to weigh in the 1300kg bracket, thanks to its use of carbon fibre and aluminium construction.

Suspension is by wishbones on all four corners, and the wheels are 20-inch alloys shod with P245/35 R20 tyres.

American magazine Road & Track reported this week that the 8C has been spotted testing at the Nurburgring racetrack in Germany.

It said noticeable changes from the show car included “altered air intakes, larger A-pillars and a general softening of the swoopy styling.”

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