140304_AR_4C_Spider_06 (1)

Alfa Romeo is set to return to its roots with a focus on rear-wheel drive, performance cars as the brand sets to hit reboot to take on the North American market and expand its appeal internationally.

Fiat Chrysler boss, Sergio Marchionne - who’s automotive group owns the famous Italian manufacturer, as well as Ferrari and Maserati - is adamant that in order for Alfa Romeo to succeed it must look back and learn from its rich heritage.

“If you look at it [Alfa Romeo], it was known fundamentally for a very limited number of things. It was a rear wheel drive architecture. It was incredibly light. It was incredibly good looking and it was incredibly powerful, so power-to-weight ratios were unique. The performances of the engines were something exceptional. The cars were truly good looking. ” Marchionne told the media in Geneva yesterday.

“These are all things that you need to go back to. One of the fundamental issues of Alfa Romeo is that it never ever had a front wheel drive architecture, not until Fiat showed up, so somehow we need to go back and rethink all those pieces because they were a necessary ingredient of Alfa. That’s what made them unique. That’s what made them as appealing as they used to be.”

Sergio Marchionne

The launch of Alfa Romeo in North America coincides with Fiat Chrysler’s upcoming announcement in May this year about the company’ s plans for the next five years, which is likely to include a dramatic focus on expanding Jeep and Alfa Romeo’s worldwide presence and appeal.

Marchionne insisted that the new Alfa Romeo 4C was a sign of things to come and what the brand could offer in the future.

“I think the 4C, by the way, when you look at that car today and you look at the performance characteristics of the car, you recognise what Alfa is capable of doing. In a very short period of time from an idea that started off from a sheet of paper in my office, we’ve gone from what appeared to be just a fundamental gokart into a hell of a car, and I think that that level of creativity and ingenuity needs to go back into the creation of a new Alfa. So it’s a complex world but I think we’re learning how to master it, so stay tuned.”

Alfa Romeo sales in Australia were up 214 percent in 2013 compared to 2012, and this year is likely to see further growth as the brand extends its marketing.

Nonetheless, with the Alfa Romeo MiTo and Giulietta both sporting front-wheel drive architectures, Marchionne’s vision for the Italian manufacturer is still some time way.

The Italian brand unveiled the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider at the Geneva Motor Show yesterday.