Station wagons rarely receive much attention at auto shows - but Alfa Romeo's 156 Sportwagon was clearly one of the most admired new cars at Geneva.
The new wagon will take total 156 production to about 150,000 units this year, against the 1999 figure of 120,000. This will increase total Alfa output to 235,000 cars - up 14.4 percent over 1999, which in itself was 29 percent up on the previous year.
Changes to the production line at the Pomigliano d'Arco plant, near Naples, mean that station wagons can account for up to half of 156 production.
Sales start this month, with prices around A1,500 above the sedan.
Crucial to complete the relaunch of Alfa will be the 147, which will replace both the 145 and 146. The 147 will be previewed in June at the Turin auto show. The three-door version will go on sale in October, and the five-door will arrive in March 2001. The 147 will take Alfa's 2001 production to 280,000 units.
Despite the 156's success, the 166 flagship has been unable to reach targeted volumes.
Alfa planned around 60,000 units in a complete year, but 1999 output reached fewer than 30,000 units. A replacement for the Spider and GTV Coupe, now running at fewer than 10,000 combined units a year, is planned - but not before 2003.
Alfa may also start completely knocked down assembly of the 156 in Thailand. It is looking for a local partner to assemble the car within an existing plant.