Alfa Romeo's new links to Chrysler and Jeep will help it to develop new models such as a badly needed SUV, according to the company's UK brand boss, Damien Dally.
The Italian manufacturer has only two cars on sale in the UK at present - the Mito supermini and the Giulietta small family hatchback - although it is also soon to add the 4C, a sports car to rival the Porsche Cayman.
Alfa's hopes for improved sales rest on three models a new two-seat drop-top (which is being developed alongside the Mazda MX-5 and which is likely to be called Duetto Spider), the Ford Mondeo-sized Giulia saloon and a small SUV that would give Alfa a rival to the Nissan Qashqai.
None of these models is likely to launch before 2015 but Dally believes that the stronger ties between the Fiat Group and its US brands will help to speed up development of the saloon and SUV.
'What we're seeing is a global approach now,' Dally told What Car?. 'There are resources available through those other brands, expertise at places like Jeep, that can really be fed back into other products more quickly than before.'
The most important model in Alfa Romeo's new line-up is likely to be the SUV - particularly since the market for family cars is shrinking. However, a saloon is still desirable for Alfa because it would open up the brand to larger vehicle fleet buyers. Both of these models will be crucial for the firm's latest attempt to crack the American market, too.
Meanwhile, more than three quarters of the initial UK allocation of 4Cs has already been sold, and the car is set to spawn its own open-top Spider edition within two years. A removable roof panel is the most likely engineering solution; the 4C's carbonfibre tub construction is said to make it an ideal basis for an open-top without any major loss of rigidity.