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16.09.2004, Carfwebmaster


The Paris Motor Show marks the debut of the New Alfa 147, a vehicle that enhances everyday driving satisfaction to the point where an ordinary trip becomes an experience packed with emotion. All this comes naturally to a model with the will to race in its genes. These attributes are not expressed by any great showiness but rather by great roadholding in any situation and over any road surface.
Grown-up sports aficionados will find that this exuberant compact car meets all their need for power and performance backed by total safety at all times. The New Alfa 147 complements its thoroughbred sports car attributes with a touch of style that allows it to thread its way through European city streets with aplomb. It is a car for those who love to make their mark quietly through well-bred quality rather than ostentation. The new compact car guarantees thrilling performance with a touch of unmistakable Italian stylistic flair.

Exterior and interior styling

The new Alfa 147, available with 3 or 5 doors, forcefully expresses all the creative vitality of the brand, a special way of appreciating motor cars that is very far from thinking of them as simply useful means of transport. Alfa Romeos have always been designed for people with expectations that go beyond the strictly necessary into the realm of emotions: aesthetic taste, a passion for sophisticated engineering, the sheer pleasure of sitting behind the wheel and an expression of one's own personality. The Alfa Romeo stylists and engineers took these premises as the basis for a car that is quite different from the present version.
A quick look at the outside tells you all you need to know. The car retains the tried and tested box shapes of the 147 and the biggest changes are reserved for the front end. The changes to the rear are more minor. The car features a new grille that is now bigger and enhanced by new design headlights. The final result is a front end that oozes sportiness and class. It also looks more aggressive because the grille has been lowered in relation to the bonnet. This impression is reinforced by the elongated appearance of the headlights - a lip of glass enclosing three round chrome elements on a black background - and the air intake that is divided by three vertical elements, one in the middle and two at the sides. The overhang is also longer while the bumpers and wing are new.
At the rear, the designers reworked the tailgate and made slight changes to the tail-lights to make them more stylish: the light clusters have now been lengthened into a more triangular shape emphasised by a chrome moulding. The triangular motif so typical of Alfa Romeo design is referred to explicitly in the New 147. For example, the protruding shield that describes a jutting triangular corner when viewed from above is emphasised at the front by the design of the bumper. The stylistic changes are based on triangular shapes and sloping lines that increase the perception of dynamism and overall sleekness.
Inside the New Alfa 147 retains the same acclaimed driving position and the excellent balance between the compact, embracing boxes, uncluttered surfaces and smooth, spare lines. Some exterior traits have been changed to underscore the look of sporty elegance that we have come to expect from Alfa Romeo cars.
Firstly, new colours have been introduced for the two-tone facia: grey on grey and blue on grey. These two colour matches complement the existing classic combinations of black on black, black on grey and black on beige, though the latter have also been revised through the introduction of a more sophisticated 'water buffalo' embossing. The New Alfa 147 features new instrument and control graphics, a new 'cannelloni' trim for the seats and door panels and a brand new design rear head-restraint that can be lowered for better visibility.

New engine, gearbox and suspension products

The range offers three petrol and three turbodiesel units. Beginning with two 1.6 Twin Spark 16 units developing power outputs of 105 and 120 bhp and torques of 14.3 and 14.9 kgm respectively; and a 2.0 16v unit developing 150 bhp (torque of 18.5 kgm) again from the Twin Spark family that is so popular with all Alfa Romeo customers.
The turbodiesel units are two spirited 1.9 JTD engines developing power outputs of 100 and 115 bhp and a mighty 1.9 JTD 16v M-Jet that develops a power of 150 bhp at 4000 rpm and a torque of 31 kgm (305 Nm) at 2000 rpm. The power units belong to the latest generation of JTD engines, i.e. Multijet and multivalve, and are notable for their great driving satisfaction and truly searing performances.
The gearboxes are also new. More specifically, the New Alfa 147 offers a new robotised gearbox that is a development of the renowned Selespeed. The interface of the new unit is even more user-friendly and intuitive but the driver does not have to give up the satisfaction and fun of a manual transmission. As on the current Selespeed, this system is designed to automate the clutch controls and gear lever of a manual gearbox through an electrohydraulic servo device. Over and above the benefits of the Selespeed, the new device also offers drivers a particularly intuitive interface. Unlike the Selespeed, the lever is multistable, i.e. it allows the customer to check his position at any time (N Neutral - R Reverse - D Drive). Two operating modes are available: in Manual mode, the driver engages the gears by means of a lever positioned on the tunnel. In Automatic mode, the electronic system takes control and decides when gear changes are required on the basis of two strategies, the first adjusted for driving comfort (NORMAL) and the second adjusted for a more sporty drive (SPORT). The ease of interaction with the system and the performance increases assured by the new control strategies make the new robotised gearbox the best possible compromise for people who prefer to drive an automatic but do not want to give up the satisfaction and fun of a manual transmission.
Another major new feature on the New Alfa 147 is the introduction of a Comfort suspension system. This comes as standard on versions equipped with the 150 bhp 1.9 JTD 16v M-Jet and is an option on the others. The new configuration combines a double wishbone front suspension with an advanced MacPherson layout at the rear. These particular suspension layouts achieve greater levels of comfort without affecting handling. The front shock absorbers have therefore been improved and even more changes have been made to the rear suspension system. Differences compared to a conventional MacPherson configuration include the lengths of the differential transverse arms, the position of the points where the arms are attached to the body and the specific bushing stiffness settings. As far as customers are concerned, all these mean smooth, pinpoint steering and steering wheel load, prompt responses, great stability and ease of control even at the limit of grip. Steering box movements are very smooth and balanced and great comfort is assured under all service and road surface conditions.
The entire range of the new car is fitted as standard with the layout that determined the success of the Alfa 156 and Alfa 147: high double wishbone at the front and a MacPherson strut layout at the rear. Then our engineers set to work to adjust the suspension to the car's specific weight distribution and individual characteristics. As far as the front wishbone configuration is concerned, the improvement was achieved by introducing a new spring type and setting and by the adoption of a new hollow anti-roll bar. Altogether these changes allow a weight reduction of 1.7 kilograms for the same stiffness and roll qualities.
The result is a compact car with a drive that combines the great control typical of a front wheel drive with the outstanding precision and response of a sports car. The New Alfa 147 offers maximum lateral hold, fast approaches to bends and a very effective, precise steering response. This excellent on-road behaviour is aided by the rear end (a MacPherson configuration with asymmetrical arms benefiting from improved elastokinematic properties) that ensures stability in high speed manoeuvres and agility over mixed routes.

Top of its class for safety

The New Alfa 147 is unrivalled when it comes to safety. Beginning with the outstanding torsional and flexural rigidity of the body: 90,000 kgm/rad for the 3 door version and 80,000 kgm/rad for the 5 door version. The new model also complements its high-performing brake system with an ABS BOSCH 5.7 antilock brake system as standard over the range complete with an EBD (Electronic Brake Distributor). The New Alfa 147 also assures absolute mastery of the car under all conditions, however extreme, due to its VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) and ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) systems. The VDC is Alfa Romeo's version of the ESP (Electronic Stability Program), a system that cuts in under extreme conditions when car stability is at risk and also helps the driver to control the car. As befits a true Alfa, the VDC is a sporting device that allows outstanding roadholding. It allows the driver the full satisfaction of controlling the car as long as conditions are normal but cuts in just before things become critical. The MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung) cuts in when the gear is shifted down abruptly in conditions of low grip. This device restores torque to the engine to prevent the wheel skidding as a result of lock. The 150 bhp 1.9 JTD 16v M-Jet versions are fitted as standard with ASR (Anti Slip Regulation). The ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) system, an integral part of the VDC, optimises traction at any speed with the aid of the brakes and engine control.
The excellent on-road behaviour of the New Alfa 147 is also aided by its tyres that achieve the best possible compromise between handling and comfort. To guarantee constant drift on bends coupled with an outstanding ability to absorb obstacles, the Alfa Romeo engineers choose generous tyres for each specification: 185/65 R 15, 195/60 R 15, 205/55 R 16 and 215/45 R 17. Customers can also choose between different alloys with special patterns.

The range

The Alfa 147 range comes in 3 and 5 door versions and the range is obtained by combining: three versions (Impression, Progression and Distinctive); thirteen body shades; four interiors (two tones of black, grey or beige); different trims including fabric, Alfatex and leather - plus three petrol power units and three turbodiesels.
In addition to a wealth of safety equipment (including window-bags to protect occupants' heads), the model offers a long list of equipment and options including a manual or automatic bi-zone heater, parking and rain sensors, a radio with CD and MP3 player, Bose Hi-Fi player, two levels of CONNECT, a BlueTooth handsfree system and Xenon headlights. As a special option, the New Alfa 147 offers BlueTooth technology that radically changes the life of motorists by allowing them to use their own mobiles without taking their hands off the steering wheel while the phone is still in their pocket or bag. This technology therefore guarantees the greatest possible convenience and driving safety. The system consists of a microphone and a keypad on the tunnel. The sound is played through the radio speakers.