|The Alfa Romeo 159, the first of a new family that will replace the 156, makes its debut at the Geneva Motor Show. This original saloon is the heir to a successful model and it continues where the 156 left off, aiming to become the new benchmark for the segment.|
The new Alfa Romeo 159 will be on the market in the Summer; it has an elegant, sinuous line, which combines generous dimensions with the compactness typical of Alfa Romeo sports cars, thanks to a balanced play of proportions and volumetric ratios. The result is a prestigious car that combines refined 'Italian' styling with Alfa Romeo's sporty elegance.
Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro in collaboration with the Alfa Romeo Styling Centre, the new car has a number of distinctive features that highlight its strong personality and make it immediately recognisable, in the best Alfa tradition. Starting from the front, which is strong and essential, dominated by the Alfa Romeo family feeling of the characteristic cloverleaf sporting the large shield. The line of the entire car springs from here, combining a light stylistic 'aggressiveness' with strikingly elegant forms: an impression that is underlined by the light clusters, which are delightful design features.
The trapezoid shape of the front view accentuates the car's sensation of solidity, highlighted by the way the passenger compartment rests on a powerful 'shoulder'. This runs all along the waistline of the car, broadening considerably when it reaches the rear pillar. This pillar has a double stylistic function: it links to the curve of the rear window, above the rear axle (another clear stylistic expression of strength, robustness and dynamism), and embraces the passenger compartment thanks to the stylistic device of the classic Alfa Romeo 'elbow'. The front pillar is set further back to make the line look sleeker, underlining the presence of the powerful engine, and making the passenger compartment look more compact, improving visibility on bends.
In other words, sleek but solid, dynamic but robust: only outstanding stylistic balance can combine such different characteristics. For example the 'muscular' wing which, next to the generous wheels, marks the widest point of the car, unequivocally conveying the ideal of a car that is firmly 'anchored to the ground'. In spite of its capacious size, the rear end, with its beautifully balanced form, blends perfectly with the front, setting off its unique personality, and has a horizontal design, underlined by a chromed double exhaust tail-pipe on the more powerful versions. And it is topped off by a small spoiler which combines styling and practicality, right above the logo which is positioned where it is immediately visible, and the elongated lights, divided by the slit of the boot, which include cylindrical shapes derived from the styling of the front headlights. And finally, the new model offers a choice of 14 different colours.
The spacious, functional interior of an outstanding saloon
The new model is roomier than the 156, and more comfortable, a strong point that is confirmed by its generous dimensions: it is 4,660 mm long, 1,828 mm wide and 1,417 mm high, with a wheelbase of 2,700 millimetres.
Like the external styling, the interior of the Alfa Romeo 159 also represents an evolved expression of the sportiness and elegance embodied by Alfa. It was defined around the driving position, focusing attention on the driver: excellent ratios for the distances between pedals, seat, steering wheel and gearbox give him a sense of total control over the car, which produces the enjoyable driving so typical of Alfa Romeo. The facia and wrapround centre console incorporate all the driving instruments and are turned ergonomically towards the driver. The speedometer, rev counter and other instruments, all strictly analogue, are circular with clear, refined, extremely legible graphics. The anti-glare lip accentuates the 'boat' shape of the main instruments, confirming a feature peculiar to Alfa Romeo design that is based on a deep-rooted attention to volumes and mature treatment of surfaces.
To underline the functional continuity between the facia and the console, the designers aimed to achieve stylistic continuity between them: the console, which is raised as if stretching towards the facia, has a sporty gearlever with short, precise movements, and a comfortable armrest that incorporates a large insulated storage compartment. The interior achieves a perfect balance between elegance and sportiness, an equation that Alfa Romeo translates into refined colour combinations, quality fabrics, precious fine grain leather and luxurious materials (like the aluminium mouldings).
The range includes three specification levels, each featuring specific 'natural' interior upholstery. The sophisticated 'slush moulding' technology with which the facia was made, guarantees a refined opaque effect and a surface that is soft to the touch. The customer will appreciate the wrapround, finely modelled seats, which are made with carefully selected materials paying great attention to the details.
Class-beating passive safety
With the new Alfa 159 project, Alfa Romeo aims to position itself at the top of the class for passive safety. The Alfa Romeo engineers have designed and developed a new 'premium' floorpan which adopts high performance materials, multiply sheet metal and laser welding. From the viewpoint of the architecture, the bodyshell also benefits from numerous measures such as the use of boxed elements that are rigidly connected transversely and vertically, three load lines in the front, longitudinals that run the whole length of the car, built-in structures and a larger number of spot welds around structural nodes. The result is the excellent torsional rigidity of the bodyshell, the best in its segment: over 180,000 daNm/rad.
The Alfa Romeo 159 boasts as many as eight airbags (including special bags to protect the knees and sidebags that extend all along the windows area); innovative restraint systems (pretensioners on the clasp, and decreasing load limiters on the seat-belts), and front seats with an 'anti-whiplash' device which brings the head-restraint nearer to the occupants' necks in the event of a rear impact.
Powerful, elastic engines that respect the environment
This striking aesthetic styling is set off by a broad, comprehensive range of engines. First of all, the three new JTS engines with continuous dual variable valve timing (inlet and exhaust): the 3.2 V6 24v (191 kW - 260 bhp), the 2.2 (136 kW - 185 bhp) and the 1.9 (118 kW - 160 bhp), with a specific power output between 81 and 85 bhp/l. All the engines meet Euro 4 standards, exploiting the direct petrol injection in full, a particular combustion system known as JTS: Jet Thrust Stoichiometric. For the customer, this means brilliant engine performance, which increases the driving enjoyment and the performance of the car. The torque values of the three engines are equally outstanding, and 88% is already available at 2,000 rpm: 322 Nm (32.8 kgm) at 4,500 rpm for the 3.2 V6 JTS, 230 Nm (23.4 kgm) at 4,500 rpm for the 2.2 JTS, and 190 Nm (19.4 kgm) at 4,500 rpm for the 1.9 JTS.
Those are the petrol engines. But Alfa Romeo has always been on the leading edge in the field of diesel engines too, epitomised by the 2.4 JTDM 5-cylinder 20v engine (147 kW - 200 bhp at 4000 rpm) and torque of 400 Nm (40.8 kgm at 2000 rpm), and the two 1.9 JTDM: the first is a '16v' delivering 110 kW (150 bhp at 4000 rpm) and torque of 320 Nm (32.6 kgm at 2000 rpm), the second is an '8v' delivering 88 kW (120 bhp at 4000 rpm) and torque of 280 Nm (28.6 kgm at 2000 rpm).
On the latest generation of 'Common Rail' engines, the JTD units with Multijet technology, turbocharging is entrusted to a variable geometry turbo and intercooler. The 1.9 JTDM exploits a specific turbine developed by Alfa Romeo while the 2.4 JTDM has a new cylinder head and new conrods in 'fractured' steel. The three engines all meet Euro 4 requirements, and incorporate a particulate trap (DPF) which eliminates particulate almost entirely, in line with the latest Euro 5 indications (it is a 'for life' system that does not need to be regenerated with additives).
And finally, the range includes new mechanical gearboxes, all with six speeds and featuring short strokes, precise engagement and limited loads. Automatic transmissions and a robotised Selespeed gearbox will also be available, all with six speeds.
Enjoyable driving and active safety
The new Alfa Romeo 159 shows its 'Alfa' pedigree in full, for example, by guaranteeing control and entertaining driving that admit no compromise. Travelling comfort and dynamic behaviour, features peculiar to Alfa Romeo cars, become real strengths on this model. The car has an interesting suspension layout, the fruit of a new project that set extremely high standards of excellence. It has 'high' double wishbones at the front, and Multilink at the rear. This means a greater capacity to absorb road roughness, more linearity and precision in response to the steering (the most direct of the standard saloons), superb roadholding, maximum stability in high speed manoeuvres and the agility of a true Alfa Romeo on narrow mixed routes. The braking system is also the most competitive in its category, reflecting Alfa Romeo's great tradition in this field. The Alfa Romeo 159's excellent road behaviour is also due to the tyres which achieve the best balance between handling and comfort. To minimise swinging on bends while guaranteeing excellent absorption of obstacles, the Alfa Romeo technicians worked with suppliers to develop special tyres, the largest in their category, right up to 235/45 R 18.
The new Alfa Romeo 159 offers the evolved permanent 4-wheel drive system with three differentials (a Torsen C self-locking central differential) adopted on the Crosswagon Q4. The heart of this project is the 'Alfa Romeo Q4 four-wheel drive' system which splits torque constantly and dynamically between the four wheels, reaching the highest levels of active safety and sportiness. The Torsen C self-locking central differential manages the drive torque in the best possible way, sending about 57% to the rear wheels and 43% to the front. The system also guarantees excellent traction in all grip conditions by automatically checking any slipping.
The car's dynamic behaviour is controlled by a number of sophisticated electronic systems. VDC first of all, which guarantees absolute control over the car in all conditions, no matter how extreme, with a sporty calibration worthy of a true Alfa, whose chassis guarantees superb roadholding: VDC lets the driver enjoy his control over the vehicle and never intervenes intrusively. On the other hand, when he changes down suddenly in poor grip conditions, MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung) intervenes, giving torque back to the engine to prevent skidding due to wheel lock. The other systems that supplement VDC are: ASR (Anti Slip Regulation), HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assistance) which intervenes during emergency braking, the ABS system complete with EBD, and the Hill Holder for hill starts. Active safety is also enhanced by sophisticated bi-xenon headlights.
Technology to enhance well-being on board
The new model features important exclusive equipment that increases comfort: Cruise control, rain, dusk and parking sensors (front and rear), satellite navigator with maps (even with 'bird's eye view' display), voice controls and a built-in GSM hands-free telephone, automatic climate control with dual or tri-zone distribution and temperature, a radio-CD player (including MP3 files) and 10-disc CD-Changer, a BOSE® Hi-Fi Sound System with AutoPilot for automatic sound compensation and a central speaker on the facia for better acoustics, seats with electrical adjustment, folding rear seats and push-button ignition on the console.
Fiat Autopress, Torino 22.2.2005