When we hear about rear-wheel drive platforms, our ears perk up. That’s because they are the best suited to performance applications. General Motors just launched a new RWD platform Alpha, and it is a scalable architecture designed to support cars like the ATS, CTS and next-generation Chevrolet Camaro. Alpha compliments the larger Zeta platform at the company.
At Chrysler, there is one main RWD architecture, LY. It supports the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger. It is destined to provide underpinnings for future Maserati and potentially an Alfa Romeo flagship. According to Motor Trend though, Fiat/Chrysler is looking to develop a new platform for smaller RWD vehicles. The reasoning is dual-pronged: Dodge wants it for a Challenger replacement and Alfa Romeo needs a new platform to go head-to-head against BMW.
LY would be fine for a full-size Alfa Romeo, but isn’t scalable down for smaller applications. This has hampered the Challenger in competition with the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. MT reports that instead of a new Challenger, a smaller Barracuda will be developed as its replacement. This fits in with rumors that the Camaro will be downsizing on Alpha for its next-generation.
What we haven’t heard anything about before though is the Challenger name being dumped. It doesn’t make sense to do that, especially since Barracuda is from the Plymouth brand. As such, we think Challenger will be retained, as it does have name equity.
As for downsizing and a less-retro design though, that is very much in the cards. In addition to the Challenger replacement, the smaller platform would underpin a range of smaller Alfa Romeos. Alfa’s lineup is currently front-wheel drive. If Alfa really wants to go head-to-head with BMW, it will require more investment from Fiat than ever before.
That is a must if they hope for Alfa to make a splash in the United States. Any new Alfa Romeos developed with RWD are likely to be pretty far out, especially if development on this has just begun. That leaves Alfa’s return to the U.S still in flux until we hear anything official from Fiat.