FACTfile - Alfa 159

The all-new Alfa Romeo 159

One of the most eagerly awaited new cars to arrive in Australia this year, the all-new Alfa Romeo 159, has gone on sale today (1 June 2006) and it is the new benchmark for stylish sports sedans, as well as heralding the arrival of a whole range of new cars from the legendary Italian car maker that will arrive over next six months.

“If the Alfa Romeo 156 was the car that redefined Alfa Romeo, then the Alfa Romeo 159 is the car that takes Alfa Romeo to the next level,” explains David Stone, General Manager of Alfa Romeo in Australia. “Indeed, it would be fair to say that the 159 is even more important than the 156 as it will provide not just an expanded range of sports sedans, it is also the basis for three more new models due this year, the 159 Sportwagon, Brera and Spider, as well as models as yet unannounced.”

Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro in collaboration with Alfa Romeo Centro Stile at Arese, Milan, the new Alfa 159 combines superlative engineering with outstanding performance and handling characteristics appropriate to the pedigree of one of the world’s most famous sporting marques.

The Alfa 159 is built on a brand new platform, making it one of the toughest cars around, with a best-in-class torsional rigidity of over 180,000 daNm/rad. In terms of safety, it has nothing to fear from the competition, and has recently been awarded the prestigious five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, which puts it ahead of the field for its segment with regard to crash safety performance.

One of the Italian sporting car manufacturer’s aims with the Alfa 159 project was to take the lead in the field of automotive passive safety. An Alfa Romeo engineered all-new premium floorpan, which incorporates high performance materials, multi-ply sheet metal, and laser welding, was the starting point.

The construction of the bodyshell also benefits from numerous measures, such as the use of boxed elements that are connected rigidly both transversely and vertically; three ‘load lines’ in the front, longitudinal beams that run the entire length of the car, built-in deformable structures, and a large number of spot welds around structural nodes.

The result is impressive and class-leading torsional rigidity of the bodyshell. The Alfa 159 also boasts seven airbags, including a special bag to protect the driver’s knees, and sidebags that extend all along the complete window area. In addition, there are innovative restraint systems with pre-tensioners and load limiters on the seatbelts, and front seats with an anti-whiplash system that automatically brings the head restraint closer to the occupant’s neck in the event of a rear impact.

The torsional rigidity of this new generation chassis also assures optimum roadholding, and superb strength and safety even in the event of a high-speed collision. This is achieved by using cutting edge technology, innovative materials, and the use of high-strength steels (58% of the total), and dual-phase steels (7%).

The central (B) pillar has three reinforcement levels to protect passengers from side-on collisions, whilst the high-strength steel floor has been designed with three load lines to prevent it from folding even in high speed head-on collisions.

Three versions of the new Alfa 159, priced from $49,990 to $74,990, are on sale now with a choice of three powerplants. Two new direct injection petrol engines – 2.2 litre 136 kW 4-cylinder unit and a 3.2 litre 191 kW V6 – combine the JTS (Jet Thrust Stoichiometric) direct injection technology of Alfa Romeo with continuously variable valve timing, (both inlet and exhaust), for the first time.

With specific power outputs of between 60 and 62 kW/litre, and almost 90% of maximum torque available at just 2000 rpm, all both new JTS units boast outstanding performance, yet offer significant fuel savings and readily comply with stringent Euro 4 exhaust emission regulations.

From launch the 159 will be available with the 2.4 litre 20 valve 147 kW 5-cylinder JTD turbo diesel engine powerplant, featuring the company’s renowned JTD MultiJet common rail direct injection systems and exemplify the company’s on-going pre-eminence in the field of diesel technology

The JTD unit also features variable geometry turbocharging, and incorporate a ‘for life’, maintenance-free particulate trap (DPF) in anticipation of Euro 5 emissions regulations.

All three launch engines are mated to smooth, precise 6-speed manual gearboxes. Additionally, six-speed automatic transmissions will become available on 2.4 JTDM and 3.2 V6 JTS versions of the new Alfa 159 in early 2007.

The 3.2 JTS engined versions of the new Alfa 159 are equipped, as standard, with Alfa Romeo’s state-of-the-art Q4 permanent four-wheel drive system. Q4 employs three differentials, with a self-locking Torsen C unit at the centre of the system which divides drive torque by a ratio of 57% to the rear wheels and 43% to the front in normal driving conditions. Torque is split between front and rear axles and constantly modulated by the central Torsen differential on the basis of available grip, with a bias towards the rear axle promoting handling characteristics appropriate to an Alfa Romeo sports saloon.

The suspension of the new Alfa 159 combines revisions to the proven high double wishbone set-up of the outgoing Alfa 156 with a new, sophisticated multilink rear configuration. The new system is designed to promote smooth, accurate steering responses, exceptional stability and controllability – even when close to adhesion limits – and first class body control allied to remarkable comfort over all road surface conditions.

The powerful braking system of the Alfa 159 comprises 305mm ventilated front discs, and 278mm solid discs at the rear. Versions powered by the 3.2 JTS petrol and 2.4 JTDM turbodiesel engines feature larger, 330mm ventilated discs and Brembo four piston monobloc aluminium callipers at the front, with 292mm ventilated discs at the rear, for even greater, fade-free stopping power.

In the best Alfa Romeo tradition, the Alfa 159 offers direct, lively and responsive speed-sensitive power assisted steering, with a rack requiring just 2.3 turns lock-to-lock; the most direct steering in its class.

Both passive and active safety features are comprehensively represented in the new Alfa 159. In addition to seven airbags, seatbelt pretensioners, and a fully integrated Fire Prevention System, the new car comes with a comprehensive range of state-of-the-art electronic braking, traction control and stability systems fitted as standard. ABS anti-lock braking is combined with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution over all four wheels, and a sophisticated Vehicle Dynamic Control unit enhances cornering stability. VDC is further augmented by Anti-Schlupf Regelung (ASR) to limit wheelspin during acceleration.

The Motor Speed Regulator (MSR) modulates braking torque when changing down through the gears, and a unique Hill Holder function facilitates smooth hill starts.

The sporting lines and compact dimensions of the new Alfa 159 belie a surprisingly spacious, flexible interior. The new car has a wheelbase 105mm longer than its predecessor, significantly improving both front and rear passenger legroom. Moreover, despite being less tall than the 156, the new Alfa Romeo offers improved front and rear door access and an increase in interior headroom, particularly in the rear.

As with all Alfa Romeo models, driver orientated ergonomics, superior passenger comfort and lavish standard equipment levels are fundamental to the interior design of the new Italian sports saloon. The Alfa 159 boasts an extremely generous standard equipment specification offering, even on entry level vehicles, many features only available as expensive options on rival models, including seven airbags, automatic Dual Zone climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors, auto dimming rear view mirror, a multi-function display and trip computer, fog lights, 17 inch spoked alloy wheels (18 inch on the V6), and an RDS 8-speaker stereo radio with ten CD stacker and steering wheel mounted controls.

Optional equipment includes a sunroof, metallic paint and 18" alloy wheels.

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