Alfa red, in fact, is everywhere. The flashy red dials are huge and very readable, and Pininfarina has exploited the round Alfa Romeo badge nicely by making it the fulcrum for all needles. They also redesigned the current Alfa DNA adaptive chassis interface just to the rear of the shift lever and the machined aluminum feels serious as we click the little trigger between D (dynamic), N (normal), and A (all-weather). It's a trick to let the driver see just enough of the forward hood without showing too much so you lose a sense of the front corners during sporty driving. The 2ettottanta gets it just right.

The 14-inch three-spoke steering wheel reminds me of the recent Camaro or Mustang heritage interpretations, a good thing. I'd like to think Alfa could find some miraculous way to stuff an airbag in the center for homologation.

The full brunt of 232 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque was not, of course, mine for the having. The proper rear-wheel-drive chassis at this dimension does not even exist anywhere in the Fiat family. And the current 1.7-liter turbocharged inline four desired, and soon to be launched in the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde ("green four-leaf clover") is not yet intended to be mounted length-wise. Plus, the seven-speed TCT automated dual-clutch doesn't come online until September. Severe prototype action.

That said, cruise time revealed a setup on 19-inch custom wheels that's very ready to rumble. The DNA system was fixed in Normal and the gearing was likewise limited. I was told that the chassis laid out this way could conceivably hold a smaller next-gen V6. The twin exhaust display with carbon-fiber-look front splitter and rear diffuser are designed for a car that will effortlessly zing to 155 mph-and possibly more. As is with the turbo four, the eventual 2,700-pound 2ettottanta will hit 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, right on a Porsche Boxster's tail.

Braking comes from a set of hit-a-wall good Brembo carbon ceramic discs. Way over the top, but hot to look at and a clear sign of things to come. To come, that is, if Alfa really wants to thrive and not just survive.

The real trick is to make certain that the 2014 Pininfarina Alfa Romeo 2ettottanta can provide all of this emotion at a base price that's not too much higher than the 332-hp V6-powered Nissan 370Z Roadster (about $37,000), but not as high as the 200-hp four-cylinder Audi TT Roadster 2.0 TFSI ($40,800). That'll be key.

Though, again, the car is not set to come to the States, the terrific Compact chassis and some of these smaller capacity turbocharged engines will arrive for 2012 and 2013 as Chryslers, Dodges, and Jeeps.

Pininfarina
Alfa Romeo 2ettottanta

Layout
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive, two-door barchetta

Engine
1.75-liter I4, dohc, 16-valve, turbocharged, updated infinitely adjustable intake camshaft; redline 6500 rpm

Transmission
Seven-speed dual-clutch TCT automated manual

Suspension
Front/rear: double-wishbone, thickened anti-sway braces, DNA adaptive chassis-engine

Brakes
15.0-inch front and 14.2-inch rear ceramic discs with four-pot aluminum calipers front/rear; VDA traction control

Wheels and Tires
Forged one-piece Cloverleaf wheels, 8x19 (f), 8.5x19 (r) Pirelli P Zero Corsa

Performance


Peak Power: 232 hp @ 5500 rpm
Peak Torque: 251 lb-ft @ 1900 rpm
0-60 mph: 5.8 sec.
Top Speed: 155 mph

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