The last three years have been tough for Bertone. After stunning the automotive world with exceptional concepts for decades, the Italian design think tank struggled and fell on hard times, largely due to missed orders. Ermelinda â€œLilliâ€ Bertone, the widow of former CEO Nuccio Bertone, was forced to sell the production plant in Grugliasco to Fiat, although she kept the design and R&D facilities in Caprie (which led to an unpleasant fight with her two daugthers). But, the result of her perseverance could finally be seen at the Geneva Auto Showâ€”a fully functional design study called the Alfa Romeo Pandion.
The Alfa Romeo Pandion is a 2+2 sports coupe, and like the eagle it is named after, this concept car folds up its scissor doors like wings. How high? Try 12 ft. Why? â€œGlamour,â€ stated Bertone design director, Mike Robinson. The 53-year-old U.S.-born Robinson, who previously worked for Fiat, just stepped into his new position last autumn. He motivated his young and talented team to create a true Bertone concept for Alfa Romeo in less than five months. And not only does this concept look fabulous, but it also incorporates some remarkable details.
The Pandionâ€™s mission is to shift Alfa Romeo into the future as the brand celebrates its 100th birthday this summer. For as beautiful (and dynamically superb) as the Alfa 8C sports car might be, stylistically itâ€™s old fashioned, as it refers back to the Giulietta Sprint that Bertone once produced. With the Pandion, the typical Alfa face gets an LED shape of the future. The rear, on the other hand, which is made up of hundreds of blades, is for show only.
Styling is one thing, new technologies another. While the Pandion uses a shortened Maserati GT chassis and its 444-bhp V-8 drivetrain as its backbone, many of the body parts are made out of carbon-fiber. With the Pandionâ€™s claimed curb weight of less than 2645 lb., itâ€™s easy to imagine the performance improvement, along with fuel mileage and emissions.
The Pandionâ€™s cabin is spacious, with ultra-thin bucket seats and no dashboardâ€”all controls are arranged around the long steering column, while only the infotainment touch screen is placed between driver and passenger.
Will the Pandion become a reality like the Alfa Romeo Montreal, which transformed from study to production car? Robinson uses a metaphor: â€œOne can lead a horse to the water. But it needs to drink itself.â€