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Spy shot Alfa Romeo 147

The arrival of the stylish MiTo and 8C Competizione started the ball rolling and now Alfa is close to finishing off its 147 replacement, which is expected to borrow heavily from its stylish relatives.

The MiTo's design has been a hit in Europe and Alfa is keen to capitalise on this success.

Under the heavy black cladding the new 147, which could be known as either the 149 or Milano, gets the MiTo and 8C Competizione treatment.

Some MiTo touches, like the headlights and grille, as well as the round LED tail-lights will appear on the Milano production car when it is launched early next year.

However, despite the heavily disguised rear door, it may also carry over the 149's high-set rear door handles.

The five-door prototype was caught testing at the famous and challenging Nurburgring, where carmakers go to finesse ride and handling.

With an overall-length of 4300mm, the hatch has grown longer and wider but is lower and very close in size to the previous Alfa 156.

The Milano is expected to be available as a five-door hatch initially but a three-door, as well as performance models are tipped to follow.

Petrol power is expected to come from a range of both 1.4 and 1.7-litre turbocharged engines, delivering about 90kW and 120kW with a high performance 198kW V6 engine expected for the range-topping GTA.

Alfa's 1.9-litre turbo diesel is also expected to be available, .

Like the MiTo, the new 149 will receive a six-speed manual gearbox with an automatic available as an option for some engines.

Prices are expected to be close to the current car, starting around $35,000 and rising to more than $40,000 for the GTA.

The hatch will be based on the same platform as the Fiat Bravo, called the Ritmo here.

Alfa Romeo is known to be toying with the Milano name for its Volkswagen Golf competitor as the company starts to move away from numerical model names.

Details of Alfa's future name changes were outlined in the Chrysler restructuring plan earlier this year.

It showed that the 147 replacement could be called the Milano and the 159 replacement the Guilia.

The newcomer will be aimed right at the hearts of the typical Alfisti, statistically aged between 27 and 40.