Alfa Romeo’s new Guilietta, unveiled in Geneva today, is a far more significant car than it might appear. Not only has it got to appeal to a wider buying public as beleaguered Alfa tries to rebuild its European sales, it also forms the basis of what Fiat hopes will be a 1m units a year Chrysler-Fiat-Alfa range of cars.

The Guilietta is the first new model built on Fiat’s new Compact platform. Since the architecture accounts for between 30% and 35% of the cost of a car – up to 50% if items like airbags, hinges and sensors are included – building as many models as possible off variations of one platform makes huge economic sense.

The plan is that, by 2014, variations on the Compact platform will underpin up to 700,000 Chryslers and 300,000 Fiats a year.

One version, called Compact Wide, is reported to be under development for seven new Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep models, including the replacement for the Chrysler PT Cruiser and the Dodge Caliber in 2012.

The modular design of the Compact architecture means that it can be used on vehicles with different wheelbases.

Fiat said it benchmarked both the Audi A3 and BMW 1-series when developing the platform. It is about 10% lighter than the previous C-segment platform, thanks to the use of aluminium suspension arms and cross members, magnesium for the cross member under the dashboard and plastic shells for the rear seats, among other measures.

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By GlobalData