From the designers of Alfa Romeo and the students of Espera Sbarro School of Automotive.
На Женевской Автомобильной выставке 2006 года школа дизайна Espera Sbarro, в ознаменование своего десятилетия, представила ошеломляющий проект концептуального автомобиля Alfa Romeo Diva. В работе французской школы очень удачно объединены современные достижения автомобильной механики и лучшие направления дизайна 60-х. Выставленный на всеобщее обозрение, концепткар не выглядел аутсайдером среди продукции ведущих автопроизводителей.
С первого взгляда в проекте прослеживается стилистическое сходство с бессмертным творением Франко Скальоне (Franco Scaglione) 1967 года — Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale
, послужившим источником вдохновения для молодых дизайнеров. Чрезвычайно интересно выполнена передняя часть автомобиля, объединившая формульный нос с традиционным щитом Альфа-Ромео, а также реплики из далеких 60-х в виде сетчатых прорезей в передних крыльях и больших круглых фонарей стоп-сигналов.
Под чувственными ярко-красными панелями кузова находится перепроектированное шасси Alfa Romeo 159, превращенное специалистами научно-исследовательского филиала ФИАТ из переднемоторного и переднеприводного в среднемоторное шасси с ведущими задними колесами. В базе автомобиля стоит перенастроенный атмосферный двигатель объемом 3195 см3 от 147 GTA с новой системой выпуска Tubi, мощность которого выросла с 260 до 290 лошадиных сил. В автомобиле установлена шестискоростная коробка передач Selespeed с подрулевыми переключателями.
Alfa Romeo Diva — современный спортивный автомобиль очень жесткой конструкции. Малые размеры, низкий вес и спартанское оснащение ставят его в один ряд с такими автомобилями, как Lotus Elise, с той лишь разницей, что в отличие от Lotus, Alfa Romeo Diva произведена только в одном экземпляре, и постройка второго возможна лишь в том случае, если снова состоится десятилетний юбилей школы Франко Сбарро.
Among the too many show-cars unveiled at the past Geneva Motor Show there was this “Alfa Romeo Diva”. The running prototype has been conceived and developed by Elasis, a high-ranking research and development centre based in Italy and owned by Fiat. (Elsais is the company that first developed and engineered the Common Rail fuel injection technology. The managing director of the company is Ing. Nevio di Giusto who has been Director of Design for the Fiat Auto group and subsequently was in charge of Engineering at Fiat Auto.)Diva was first exhibited on the Sbarro area, among several other cars built by the Italian genius and his teams. Indeed the Alfa Romeo Diva has been built by the international team of students attending Franco Sbarro’s Espera school of automotive design and construction located at Yverdon, Switzerland. The design came from the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo.
There it certainly made an impression with its unique double-deck spoiler at the front, but did not shine as brightly as it deserved.
Too much to see and not enough of the illumination and space that a show car needs to stand out of the crowd.
Few weeks later the natural light of Italian sunny days and the frame provided by the Como Lake at Villa D’Este completely changed its perception and the stunning Diva was among the brightest stars on display, almost outshining the winner of the Coppa D’Oro Villa d’Este: the Alfa Romeo 8C Spider. The brand is the same but the red colour, the size, the weight and nearly everything is different. Including the perspectives: now that the AR 8C Competizione has been approved for a limited production run, there are chances that the 8C Spider follow suits, or at least is built from an 8C Competizione. On the contrary, there are no chances for the Alfa Romeo Diva. At least not at this time.
People and their companies sometimes make mistakes, small and big ones, and I fear this is another one, with story repeating itself again and again at Alfa Romeo. The decision to build the 8C Competizione is coming too late, and the projected price is growing too high, adding to the criticism that the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione is too big and heavy to be a real light and nimble Alfa Romeo. Indeed, allow me to whisper it is going to be a Maserati Coupe in Alfa Romeo dress and style. Certainly a fascinating sports car but is that enough these days to justify a price in the area of anything between 120 and 150 thousand euros? Incidentally the Maserati Coupe it is to be built from is not the current one, designed by Giugiaro but rather the upcoming generation, designed by Pininfarina and due to be launched next year. It is supposed to be a secret but we have done our home-work and now you know the future.
Our scepticism for the commercial success of the “Competizione” does not mean that Alfa Romeo should be producing a high performance sports car as this Diva and compete with low volume manufacturers such as Lotus. It is not our business to say what Alfa Romeo should sell. At the most we can say what we would like to buy and we are entitle to be of the opinion that Diva is much more consequent with the sports car spirit that the Alfa Romeo brand stands for.
Having said this, as a sort of introduction, let’s have a look at the Alfa Romeo Diva and what it stands for.
Once you see it and check out its dimensions and weight, you know what it is all about: driving fun, racing heritage and most likely track racing in pure Alfa Romeo tradition. You do not need too go a long distance to see where the Alfa Romeo designers went for inspiration: they simply walked into the company museum, and took their Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale into their studio for some time.
The package and the overall dimensions are very close to those of the Stradale and so are the dramatic door openings and the mid-engine layout.
Indeed the Diva has been designed at Alfa Romeo by the designers led by the enthusiastic Wolfgang Egger and they have certainly done a great job.
Sure, the architecture, shape, style and aerodynamics of the Diva are a synthesis of recent design and experience and if you see or smell a bit of Ferrari-by-Pininfarina flavour here and there, I share your feelings. I am not concerned though, there has always been an exchange of inputs between Alfa Romeo and Ferrari since Enzo Ferrari left Alfa Romeo to race them with his own team and eventually with cars carrying his name.
What really matters here is that the Diva comes with a very brilliant and powerful V6 3.2 litre “Bussi” engine tuned by Elasis engineers to deliver some 290 HP. The engine is transversely installed ahead of the rear axle, just behind the driver and co-driver seat and drives just the rear wheel through fat Pilot Sport PS2 225/35 ZR19 (at front) and Pilot Sport PS2 275/35 ZR19 tyres provided by Michelin. The transmission is made of a mechanical six-speed gearbox with Selespeed electronic control further developed to allow for multiple gearchanges.
It is also quite relevant that this car is very low on the ground and with quite a large footprint despite its “minimalist” and magic length. Its stance and look make Diva a very emotional sculpture ready to fly and the sound of its engine only contribute to the highly emotional character of this coupe. To sound just right, the exhaust system integrates a new exhaust units with variable geometry, and made of a avionic derived light alloy, that meets legislation world-wide and does sound like a classic Alfa Romeo engine.
Diva is this side of the 4 metres, measuring exactly 3894 mm. This is 36 mm. shorter than the new Fiat Punto. It is even shorter (by 76 mm.) than the original AR 33 Stradale. On the contrary it is (192 mm) higher and wider (184 mm.) than its ancestor. This is good news because it means that people of average height (shall we say not above 1.8 metres) will be comfortable enough behind the steering wheel.
Access to the race-type bucket type seat through the small door and with the fixed steering wheel is a bit tricky but the adjustable (for reach only) steering wheel and pedal unit allows to achieve a good and commanding position in combination with one of the two fixed-seat position. Both seats are made of carbon fibre and integrates four-point safety belts. When it comes to handling, road holding, cornering power and agility, tracks and wheelbase have their saying and once again it is DIVA that benefits of the changes: whereas the distance between wheels is up by merely 52 mm. they front wheels cover an area that is 1608 mm wide instead of 1350 mm and at the rear the distance is 1578 mm rather than 1445 mm.
One can see here the huge difference from the past. Now it is the front track that is wider than the rear. Fourty years ago it was the opposite. What has changed in the meantime? Everything: tyres, suspension design, materials and, above all electronic controls.
Suspensions front and rear are made of the double wishbone architecture with push-rods governing spring and damping for direct and precise response.
There is an important area though which Diva cannot be as good as the Stradale benchmark: overall weight. The ancestor was, reportedly, just 700 kgs in “ready to go” settings. The AR Diva is just below 1000 and still far from the target its engineers have given themselves: 900 kgs.
However, the V6 of Diva is more powerful than the race-derived 2.0 Litre V8 that powered the Stradale and the consequent weight-to-power ratio of 3.4 is almost as good as that, but with the extra advantage that the V6 is dramatically more flexible, torquey and friendly with some 40 Nm delivered at 4800 rpm. F1 inspired aerodynamics play their great role with Diva both in terms of downforce and stability, with the distinctive wing integrated into the upper part of the font bumper as well as for drag. The efficient airflow management grants Diva a top speed of 270 kph. That is at least 10 kph faster than the 2.0 litre V8 Stradale. The ultimate achievement is that Diva can sprint from zero to 100 kph in 5.0 seconds, just a fraction faster than the (some 45.000 euros, price varies according to taxation in different markets) Lotus Elise.
Most notable innovations integrated into the Diva design are the composite, structural, space frame, the light dashboard made of a thin sheet of steel cut and folded with laser technology, the light and compact led units that replace traditional lamps front and rear, and the multi-function Momo steering wheel that carries quite a number of switches and control much like in a formula one.
The driver can actually change the set up of this car as he drives: by reducing or eliminating the “Dynamic Control” electronics, distributing brake forces on front and rear axles, changing the stiffness of dampers and shock absorbers.
According to Giuseppe Masciocco who is in charge of vehicles development at Elasis (one of the most sophisticated design and engineering think-tank of the Fiat Group), Diva is a “laboratory on wheels” that is being tested development process, electronics applications, suspension design, advanced material and car design. As such, the making of Diva has been a test bed for the combined use of steel, aluminium, glass and carbon fibre according to a strategy aiming at experimenting the use of weight efficient solutions at competitive production costs.
I wonder if this research will eventually lead to the GTA of the third millennium. A light and nimble Alfa Romeo 2+2 coupe in the Alfa best tradition that people can drive to office and race on week-end.
With the Brera Coupe born out of despair for a new product and passion now on the market Alfa Romeo has now the time and opportunity to think ahead and plan the sports car they need to go back at the top. Diva is probably the most inspiring starting point.