FACTfile - Alfa Romeo 156 has a facelift

Alfa Romeo 156 has a facelift

The Alfa 156 is the first of the current Alfa line-up to have the facelift to the new 147-style grille. As the information from Alfa Romeo Australia set out below details this is not just skin deep.

Next for the same treatment are the Spider, GTV and 166 before the brand new vehicles come out next year - the GT Coupe and the 157. The following is from the horse's mouth ie unedited information from Alfa Romeo Australia. ItalianCar will be test driving the new 156 along with the new Spider in the next few days and undoubtedly we will receive a lot more technical information from Alfa at that time.

In the meantime here is the lowdown on the new 156:
The Alfa Romeo 156, already acclaimed as one of the most beautiful cars of all time, has been given an aggressive new appearance by the car designer elected as Designer of the Century, Giorgetto Giugiaro, while changes under the skin have boosted its applauded handling and roadholding and the interior has received a luxury makeover.

And, not to be left out, Alfa Romeo is being aggressive with the price, with no changes despite all the improvements meaning that the new Alfa Romeo 156, fully equipped with Momo leather still starts at $49,950.

There are few tasks harder for a designer than adjusting a design that was so right to start with and which clearly was designed a as a complete entity without spoiling the overall shape or making the changes look like tacky add-ons. This was a fact clearly understood by Giorgetto Giugiaro who, despite being a legend in car design, recognized the challenge that faced him with the Alfa Romeo 156.

"The reinterpretation of such successful and brilliant design as the Alfa 156 meant that the changes had to convey a new spirit that was not in the original a car," says Giorgetto Giugiaro. "For this reason we chose to go with maximum determination to give it a level of aggression that would provide even greater appeal. Hence the decision to model the exterior shape not just to bring it up to date but also to adjust the ratios of the 156's volumes and sizes."

"The new Alfa 156 forcefully expresses all the new creative vitality of the brand, a stronger interpretation of Alfa's special way of appreciating motor cars that is so very far from thinking of them as simply useful means of transport. The changes to the 156 are a visual interpretation of the changes to Alfa Romeo since the original Alfa 156 was launched, a new level of style, a new level of aggression and a larger and more purposeful role in life," says Giorgetto Giugiaro.

The key changes are a completely restyled front ahead of the A-pillar with significant changes to the grille, which is now bigger and features new design headlights. The lower bumper area is also narrower than on the previous version. The end result is a front end that simultaneously oozes performance, aggression and classic class.

At the rear, the Giorgetto Giugiaro's Italdesign team has gone for style. The tail-lights have thus been slightly reworked so that their lower part is emphasized by two slight side-whiskers and the upper part by a motif that frames the Alfa logo and emphasizes the rear bonnet volume. Giorgetto Giugiaro's changes to the Alfa 156 respect distinctive brand features, emphasize the features of a successful model and confirm, once again, the profitable relationship that Alfa Romeo has enjoyed with the great master of his trade, who was voted 'Designer of the Century' by more than 120 international journalists and his peers at Las Vegas in 1999.

Even Alfa Romeo's colour palate now reflects the heritage of the company with names that are drawn from its unique history. These include the non-metallic colours of Alfa Red, Carrara White and Kyalami Black. Eleven shades are metallic: Siena Red, Stresa Green, Light of Amalfi Green, Taormina Blue, Capri Blue, Daytona Blue, Le Castellet Blue, Gonzaga Grey, Vesuvius Grey, Lipari Grey and Jarama Black.

But the changes to the 156 are not a triumph of style over substance. There have also been changes to the interior and the chassis that enhance the Alfa Romeo 156 ownership experience. The interior has also been enhanced by major and minor styling changes that alter its appearance with the aim of increasing the sensation of light and elegance while pursuing the close family ties with the Alfa 166 and the Alfa 147.

The facia has been completely revised and its good looks have been enhanced by a selection of three colour combinations available to special order: black on beige, black on grey, dark grey on light grey. The existing sporty black facia complements these alternatives. The New Alfa 156 is the only car in this market sector to offer a leather-trimmed facia, ideal for sporty yet sophisticated customers.

The centre of the facia reveals another new detail. The upper part features a multifunction display in an innovative, up-to-date design, while the lower part contains a built-in radio and mono-zone or automatic dual zone climate control system controls according to the specification. The radio, complemented by a CD player, also offers an outstanding sound system designed and built for the passenger compartment that consists of six speakers and delivers a powerful output of 4x40 Watts.

Features such as the upper central air diffuser outlets and seat adjustment controls have been carried over from the previous model. The outstandingly ergonomic position of the mirror and foglight controls is also unchanged. The same applies to the central console where the sensation of space has been increased by oddments compartments.

The exterior and interior have thus been revised in a quest for the sporty elegance that has always been written into Alfa's DNA. The chassis of every Alfa Romeo is also a core value in its DNA and the Alfa 156 has been acclaimed from day one for its dynamic combination of comfort and sporting response from the steering, suspension and brakes. Changes have been made to the Alfa Romeo 156 to enhance this, with the most substantive being the use of a new vacuum cast aluminium cross member at the rear, that is stronger, more rigid and lighter. In addition more compliance has been built into the suspension mounts to enable them to provide better insulation from road surface irregularities, but without reducing the responsive nature of the chassis.

For the Australian market the engine choice remains the benchmark lean burn, direct injection 2.0 litre 121 kW JTS engine, with the choice of five speed manual or Selespeed sequential manual gearbox or the 2.5 litre 142 kW version of Alfa Romeo V6 engine which is equally legendary for its performance as for the sonorous growl it makes under acceleration. The V6 is partnered with either the Q-system automatic gearbox or a six speed manual.

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