Alfa Romeo 159 2006 review
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And yes, I am talking about a car; the Alfa Romeo 159, to be precise. The 156 replacement is the type of car that just screams, "I'm here and I mean business".
The new Alfa is available in two petrol models and one turbo-diesel version, with another diesel to join the lineup early next year. I tested a 2.4-litre, five-cylinder JTD, priced at $54,990, before changing over to the 2.2-litre, four-cylinder JTS model, with a $49,990 price tag.
The 159 has a sexy, but serious appearance, with an angled nose adorned with a sporty grille and aggressively styled lights, along with 17-inch alloy wheels.
As always, the fiery red is the best way to go in an Alfa. It's a standout in the crowd.
And, of course, as everyone knows, red cars go faster. This model has a tanned-leather interior, enhancing the sporty character and while it is quite trendy, really it all comes down to personal choice.
The dash is narrower than usually found in medium-sized sedans — that's great news for front passengers who need extra leg room but it can make reaching the controls difficult for some drivers.
The speedometer and tachometer readings sit in the usual position on the dash behind the steering wheel.
But other readings such as temperature, turbo and petrol gauges are placed on an angle on the centre console, facing the driver.
Starting the engine is a little different to
most cars as the 159 doesn't have a conventional key; instead, the electronic remote that opens the car is used as a key.
It is a start button that gets your engine going. This was a nice reminder that you were in a classy car.
First out of the garage was the 2.4-litre, five-cylinder JTD model. And while the engine may have been a little noisy in the high-rev range and when idling, it wasn't anything to complain about. The noise is mainly apparent from outside the vehicle and if anything, it adds an attractive sporty growl.
The 159 is currently only available in a six-speed manual transmission, with quick shifting giving a good, solid performance.
The power in the diesel was responsive, producing 147kW at 4000rpm, with only a slight turbo lag at the lower rev range.
Torque figures for the turbo diesel reach 400Nm at 2000rpm. The 2.2-litre, four-cylinder JTS petrol model is also a smooth drive with plenty of power, but felt very different to the diesel. The clutch in the test car had an almost immediate take-up and required some getting used to. With 136kW of power at 6500rpm and 230Nm at 4500rpm, performance is enjoyable despite lacking the low-down urge of the JTD. Both versions driven had a turning circle that displays an immediate improvement over previous models.
In contrast to the look-at-me red of the diesel, the petrol test car was a more conservative silver — not quite as impressive but coupled to the black interior it was likely to appeal to a wider audience. Apart from engines and colour, the two were identical.
They had an impressive list of safety equipment including seven airbags, rear parking sensors and the latest braking technology. Luxury features include leather seats, leather steering wheel and gear knob, steering-wheel controls, cruise control and a 10-stack CD player. While space in the back seats is adequate for its size, it is a little tight, especially in leg room. The boot would also benefit from more space and bigger (or more) storage compartments would be useful in the front, including a bigger glovebox.
A six-speed auto will be available in the 159 early next year, as will a 1.9-litre JTD model.
Range and Specs
|2.2 JTS||2.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$3,700 – 6,050||2006 Alfa Romeo 159 2006 2.2 JTS Pricing and Specs|
|2.4 JTD||2.4L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$4,300 – 6,930||2006 Alfa Romeo 159 2006 2.4 JTD Pricing and Specs|
|3.2 V6||3.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$5,800 – 9,020||2006 Alfa Romeo 159 2006 3.2 V6 Pricing and Specs|
|Sportwagon 2.2 JTS||2.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$3,900 – 6,380||2006 Alfa Romeo 159 2006 Sportwagon 2.2 JTS Pricing and Specs|
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