Прототип Bella от Bertone наилучшим образом иллюстрирует известное изречение «Король умер, да здравствует король!». Дизайн Л.Д`Амброзио, 1999 г.
A new exotic show car from Bertone at the Geneva Motor Show is a tradition that seems to come as naturally as March and the Geneva Show come, shortly before Spring.
Also a tradition is that we take Bertone's show cars to road as soon as possible. Not to really to test it as car our readers can buy tomorrow, but to feel how the car looks on the road and in daylight, within a natural landscape. Of course we took our chance to hear the sound of its famous Alfa Romeo engine (a bit noisy, as the exhaust had been cut short and some silencers forgotten in a corner of the shop) and how it handles. How, like a tailor's coat fits on the driver.
Surprisingly, we felt this Bertone Bella to be ready to go a long distance, in pretty good comfort and a sense of safety. This all provided you have been reassured that some metallic noise were nothing serious to be concerned with.
"BELLA: is an elegant coupé full of zest, for "gran turismo" driving on long trips. A coupé that adapts with great versatility to all requirements and situations, with a forceful personality and dashing appearance.
Styled to look "very fast".
That this car has been designed to drive fast, actually faster than other cars, is clearly stated by its solid and dynamic style. You need not to look back. You would not see much anyway.
The driver look and feel like being into a fighter cockpit. Perhaps, as a second thought, he might even have the perception that the roof and the side windows form a huge helmet, into which the driver feels as being at the steering wheel or a racer.
Bella being the only car of its kind around the world and as usual we didn't drive it to its top potential speed but we had a lot of fun revving into the 4 to 5 thousand rpm and using all of its 5 gears. Incidentally, even though Bella is intended to be powered by a state-of-the-art 3.0 litre V6 Alfa Romeo engine, for some reasons the prototype is actually powered by a 2.0 litre four cylinder twin spark unit.
The six cylinder has just been delivered to Bertone and it will soon be fitted to the show-car.
Inside, the roomy (for two) cabin, there is no racing-type bucket seats but two very comfortable seats upholstered with leather in an attractive red colour with touches of silver and black inserts, when and where appropriate. The dashboard is a clever elaboration of the one fitted in the Alfa Romeo 166 and you can recognise the instrument clusters and the clusters themselves (even though the graphic is new), the central console with the navigation monitor and the ventilation outlets. An interesting innovation is the use of a special textile to upholster the upper section of the facia. The textile can breath and does not accumulate the heat as nearly all facias do. This texture is black and makes a nice contrast with the red leather.
Eugenio Pagliano, head of interior design at Stile, is keen on saying that in his opinion style must continue to follow function and the priority in designing dashboards and facias is that they do not cause reflection. A requirement that too many designers and car makers tend to forget these days.
You can sit rather comfortably Bertone's Bella. You have a good vision of what is going on in front and at the side of the car. As just said, forget seeing what's going on behind the car.
Like many modern cars you cannot see behind your car and the Bertone Bella is no exception.
In addition catching and wearing the safety belt is not as simple but eventually you can manage it. That of course has to do with the long door and its pillar, far back from the driver's post.
Actually you have some more work to do to fasten your seat belt. This is an area where the function need to be given top priority. The solution in principle is readily available, fit seats with integrated safety belts but apparently this were not available for Bella when it was completed. Perhaps, one day in the not too distant future.
The other side of the coin in this regard is that the large door allow for a rather convenient access to the rear seats. Or sort of rear seats.
Pagliano, perfectly agrees that there is simply not room for an adult there and he stresses that in his view Bella shall be regarded as a two seater coupé with a cargo capabilities of unusual flexibility.
Bella introduces a very smart innovation in the use of space, a convenience that is increasingly appreciated by car drivers who want to carry more and more leisure-time gears. The conventional access is through the rear hatch and the regular cargo area is reasonable for a sporting GT.
The difference here that if "on board luggage" requires more space one can expand the area into the cabin, without spoiling it. The backrest of the split rear bench lifts up and forward and so does the cushion, This way the car becomes a strict two seater with the area behind the two passengers nicely finished and with no luggage to be seen. An extra convenience is that cushion and back can be open to take an attaché case from the front doors.
A DIFFERENT SORT OF SPORT CAR IN THE ALFA ROMEO TRADITION, AS SEEN BY BERTONE.
Late last year, when time came to start thinking of the 1999 show car the executives of Stile Bertone, the design think thank of the Bertone Group "design machine" felt time had come to celebrate Alfa Romeo successes with the 156 and the introduction of the new 166 flagship.
Alfa coupes are a recurrent theme for Bertone, stemming from its deepest and strongest roots stretching back into the past. Names that immediately spring to mind include the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint
of the Fifties, the Alfa GT coupé of the Sixties and the Alfa Montreal coupé
of the Seventies, models, that marked the stars of ltalian-style Gran Turismo.
Today, the world automotive scenario call for ever more élitarian cars with a strong character and very focused on their specific use. Just think of the Bentley Hunadiéres also unveiled in Geneva as the ultimate example.
Consequently it was only natural that Mrs. Ermelinda, "Lilli" Bertone, the widow of the late Nuccio Bertone, who takes an active role in this sort of decision enthusiastically agreed on the idea: her first love remains the Giulietta Sprint. The Alfa Romeo coupé that turned the company into an industry and made Nuccio Bertone famous and rich.
She suggested Stile Bertone should unveil in Geneva their vision of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint of the third millennium. A racy coupé with a lot of Alfa Romeo appeal and a great character.
That is what Luciano D'Ambrosio set to do when he started sketching the new car, late in 1998. Look at the result and you can't but agree that Bella is perhaps not so outrageously beautiful, despite its name, but certainly has a style of its own, a lot of character and is 100% an Alfa Romeo.
A different and very distinguished sport car, at least one generation ahead.
One may be tempted to say that its design fit in the new trend set by the Audi TT
but nothing could be more far from truth. The only features they have in common is that both are instantly recognised as you see them driving far down the road.
The Audi TT is very symmetrical, front and rear, and marked by constant radius drawing the lines in a very straight longitudinal direction.
The Bertone Bella is very three-dimensional all round. Its greenhouse is a further development of Bertone long established approach to aircraft cockpit design we have seen for many years, since the Abarth Record
setting cars through the Lancia Stratos
, Citroen Trapeze
, the Opel Slalom
, and many more).
Much like the Lancia Kayak
, the elegant yet dynamic four seater coupé - unveiled four years ago at the Geneva show (that everybody wished Lancia would make instead of the disappointing Lancia K Coupé), the Alfa Romeo Bella is a very exotic sport car that stands above the crowd.
The silhouette of Bella is a brilliant combination of rounded volumes with the right degree of strength created by sharp lines originating from the front and running along the side.
The face of Bella is positively marked by the essential Alfa Romeo emblem and the contouring shield representing air intakes of the old radiator grilles. Interestingly the additional air intakes required to keep the engine fresh are thin but very wide opening that works as graphic design for the massive front, styled to express power and performance.
On the contrary the tail is gentle and very elegant, nicely taking to their natural destination the highlights originated at the front and continued on the side.
As with the Lancia Kayak, also the Alfa Romeo Bella is not the sort of car you fall in love at first sight. You need sometime with it to come to establish a long last and deep love with her. It is not an easy musical refrain. It is rather like a sophisticated symphony you have to listen to again and again.
Luciano D'Ambrosio, head of exterior design, understands what we feel and he pleased with our reaction. Our enthusiasm, moderated by a certain lack of maturity for the shape to come, confirms him that ha has achieved the aim he was given: design an Alfa Romeo sport car for the future. Not for today. Futuristic and Unconventional yet so good to surprise; attract and prompt you to say 'countach' or whatever word express your astonishment and emotion in front of an unexpected beauty", explains D'Ambrosio.
Bella is very much Bertone where it searches for innovative forms by combining in new ways the fundamental architectural and styling elements. Often by turning around the proportions to create alternative, yet balanced "disproportions", as D'Ambrosio himself suggests.
As with the 1984 Chevrolet Ramarro
and the 1995 Lancia Kayak, the Bertone Bella create new proportions, moving up-stream against the current - often boring - trend.
When Bertone unveiled the Lancia Kayak many hoped Mr. Paolo Cantarella would see the difference and change his mind and stop the development of what later became the very disappointing Lancia K Coupé.
This time Bertone is not thinking of a development for its Bella "product concept" at all, event though anybody can see there is quite a place for it in the market segment above the current Alfa Romeo GTV range.