FACTfile - Alfa 166

Alfa's flagship gets a facelift

Finally the Alfa flagship - the 166 - has received the same facelift treatment doled out to the 156 and Spider and GTV models. We think it looks pretty good on the outside but the photos of the interior do not inspire us - we wait to see it in the flesh. Here is the low-down on the new model from Alfa and Australian importer Ateco Automotive:

The new Alfa Romeo 166 has arrived in Australia with a new level of elegance matched by a host of refinements under the skin that enable the Alfa 166 to enhance its unique combination of Alfa performance, luxury and style.

"The Alfa Romeo 166 is quintessentially Italian in its approach to motoring," explains Kevin Wall, General Manager for Alfa Romeo in Australia. "It is, of course, stylish in a way that everything that comes out of Italy can only be and in that unique Italian style that sets it apart from all its rivals. Equally it offers the level of driver involvement that is demanded from all automotive products from Italy. There can be no doubt that this is a car from the same stable as such unmatched driving machines as the Alfa Romeo 147 GTA and the new Alfa Romeo GT. Finally, as no Italian would ever pay full price for everything and they know how to bargain harder than anyone else, the Alfa Romeo 166 comes wealth of equipment and features at an outstanding price."

The most obvious change to the Alfa Romeo 166 is that it now sports the latest interpretation of the classic Alfa Romeo shield, which now plunges through the bumper line and it is crowned by a new, larger Alfa Romeo badge. From its top corners new, stronger ribs run to the base of the A pillars, providing a strong more, purposeful bonnet shape. The Alfa Romeo shield is flanked by new headlights that are both fresh in their styling and which offer a new level of optical performance. The reinterpretation of the Alfa Romeo 166 has been created by the same team in Alfa Romeo Style Centre responsible for the original design and this has enabled the new features to blend perfectly with the strength and purpose of the Alfa Romeo 166's imaginative original design.

The technical changes to the Alfa Romeo 166 under the skin have been predominantly aimed at enhancing refinement by reducing interior noise, diminish vibration through the body shell from course road surfaces and isolate the interior from extraneous external noises. This has been done without reducing the glorious sound of the classic Alfa Romeo V6 that powers the Alfa Romeo 166 or hampering the driving dynamics of the 166, indeed the Alfa 166 benefits from sharper response to driver demands.

The Alfa Romeo 166 is powered, as before, by the 3.0 litre V6 engine that has become a legendary byword for performance, aural pleasure and even stylish good looks with its polished chrome inlet manifold. Delivering 162 kW, this engine is one of the most powerful in its category. It delivers a peak torque of 265 Nm at 5000 rpm and takes 8.6 seconds to speed from 0 to 100 kmh. Its top speed is also one of the best in its category: 236 kmh. This performance is delivered through the Sportronic gearbox which offers the choice of normal automatic mode, performance self-shifting and Tiptronic style manual gear selection.

The interior of the Alfa Romeo 166 is no less stylish, indeed it provides the ideal driving environment with its blend of comfort, ergonomics and luxurious appointments. For the driver there is a sports-car like instrument panel with all the controls ideally placed for control and safety, while for the passengers there are seats trimmed in hand-crafted Italian leather, shaped for comfort in all driving conditions and with the accoutrements that are demanded in this class.

Standard equipment is well beyond comprehensive. Of course there are electric windows, power locks and remotely controllable door mirrors, as well as cruise control, auxiliary power points front and rear and power seats in the front with memories and heating. But there is also a GSM mobile phone, a central control system wit a large LCD colour screen that controls the extensive CD stacker/cassette audio system, the ventilation system which features climate control, comprehensive trip computer and the GSM phone. The locks not just remotely controlled, the boot may also be opened remotely.

"The Alfa Romeo 166 is a clear standout model in its class," says Kevin Wall. "It is elegantly stylish in a form that is both timeless and clearly denotes that Alfa Romeo understand the difference between style and merely fashionable. This is matched by real performance from an engine that can truthfully be described as race-track bred. This is matched by a list of stand equipment much of which resides on the options list of its rivals and yet it is available at a price that compares very favorably to those sparsely equipped rivals."

The Alfa Romeo 166 has a recommended retail price of $84,950 and is on sale in Australia from 1 August 2004.

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