2010 Alfa Romeo Mi.To - Sneak Preview 2008

Alfa Romeo is coming back to the United States. The storied Italian brand intends to return to the land of the free and the home of the enormous new-car market, the land that it left more than a decade ago amidst a triple-threat nightmare of PR, sales, and quality-control issues. One of Alfa's first stated goals is to take on the Mini Cooper.

The car you see here goes on sale in Italy in July, and if all goes to plan, it will find some 70,000 buyers a year and help revitalize the struggling Alfa brand. U.S. sales should follow in late 2009.

That may sound far-fetched, but the Mi.To has a fairly decent shot at reaching that goal - after all, its aggressive design is heavily influenced by the 8C Competizione, and chief stylist Frank Stephenson was responsible for the current Fiat 500 and the first-generation BMW Mini. (He also had his hands on the Ferrari F430, the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, the Maserati Quattroporte, and the Maserati MC12.) The Mi.To rides on the same platform that underpins Fiat's Grande Punto, and power comes from one of four turbocharged four-cylinders, ranging in output from 90 hp to 155 hp. Last but not least, a Mi.To GTA model is in the works, said to sport 200 hp and an uprated chassis.

COME BACK, ALFA, WE MISS YOU: Alfa Romeo has a long, distinguished history in the United States, albeit one colored by decades of poor reliability and iffy quality control. The Mi.To could be the foothold needed to restart America's love affair with Italy's storied brand.

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