2014 Alfa Giulia to feature four- and six-cylinder engines, rear-drive?

The Giulia will make its debut in the United States in 2014.

Rumors circulating around the Italian auto industry indicate that the overdue successor to the Alfa Romeo 159 will be powered by a wide selection of four- and six-cylinder engines.

The sedan's entry-level offering is expected to be a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder that will be equipped with direct fuel injection and Fiat's MultiAir variable valve timing technology, a system that is already found under the hood of the Dodge Dart as well as many Alfa and Fiat products.

Next in the lineup will be an all-new V6 mill developed by Fiat-Chrysler that will have a displacement of either 3.2 or 3.6 liters. The development of this engine is what pushed back the Giulia's launch a second time to 2014.

Buyers in Europe are more likely to opt for the twin-turbocharged diesel-burning V6, an engine that will very likely find its way into to the engine bay of the upcoming Maserati Kubang SUV and the trident brand's E-Class-fighting sedan.

Regardless of what engine is found under the hood customers will be asked to choose whether they want power sent to the rear wheels or to all four wheels. This will mark the first time that Alfa offers a rear-wheel drive regular-production car since it phased out the 75 (sold as the Milano in the United States) in 1993.

What will it look like?

The Alfa Romeo 159 was given the axe in 2011 to free up production capacity in Italy for the third-generation Fiat Panda. The Giulia was supposed to take the 159's torch this year but Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne was not satisfied with the car so he sent Alfa engineers and designers back to the drawing board.

The car's new design has yet to be finalized and test mules have not been spied yet so it is difficult to predict what to expect. However, since Alfa Romeo is gunning for big names like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, the Giulia will likely wear a more premium-looking design than its predecessor.

A roomy station wagon version of the Giulia is expected to hit showrooms within a year of the sedan's launch. At the time of writing no further body styles are planned.

When can I buy it?

If everything goes as planned the Alfa Romeo Giulia will make its European debut in 2014. It will be quickly sent over to American shores to spearhead the brand's much-awaited return and if sales are high enough, Fiat claims that U.S.-bound cars could be built locally.

A two-door roadster inspired by the iconic Duetto and co-developed by Mazda is expected to be released shortly after the Giulia sedan and be sold alongside of it in the United States.

What's in a name?

Alfa Romeo introduced the Giulia nameplate on June 27th, 1962, when it launched the Giulia TI, a four-door sedan equipped with a dual-overhead cam four-cylinder engine. Throughout the 1960s the name appeared on many different models ranging from the Bertone-designed Giulia Sprint GT and Giulia Sprint GTA to the elusive Giulia SZ and Giulia Sprint Speciale models, just to name a few.

By the early 1970s a vast majority of the Giulia models had been phased out or renamed (the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce became known simply as the GTV) but the original Giulia sedan was given a new plastic grille and soldiered on as the Giulia Nuova until 1977.

Photo by Ronan Glon.