At the 2006 Geneva Motorshow the Espace Sbarro School of design celebrated their 10th anniversary with the stunning Alfa Romeo Diva concept. Combining modern mechanicals with a 1960s design language has resulted in one of the most interesting concepts to emerge from French school in years. In Geneva the compact and lightweight two seater did not look out of place among the products of the world's leading houses.
At first glance it is immediately obvious that the Franco Scaglione designed Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale was a big inspiration for the young designers. It is very interesting how the now familiar F1-like high nose is combined with Alfa Romeo's trade-mark grille shape. Dominated by two big taillights, the rear end has a more conventional look and feel to it. This combination of classic and modern design cues work out remarkably well.
Under the bright red body panels there is a highly modified Alfa Romeo 159 chassis. In this context 'highly modified' is an understatement as Sbarro turned a front-engined front wheel drive into a mid-engined rear wheel drive platform. Breathing through a new Tubi exhaust system the V6 engine's output was increased from 260 to 290 bhp. Only the very basic necessities were fitted to the interior, which is dominated by a simple steering wheel. The six speed Selespeed gearbox is operated with two paddles installed on the steering column.
While its design might hark back to the 1960s, the Diva is a thoroughly modern car that looks to be a solid package from nose to tail. With its compact dimensions, low kerb weight and spartan interior, the Diva fits right in the Lotus Elise category. Sadly it looks like the boys from Hethel need not worry as this Sbarro concept will remain a one-off like most of the company's designs.