Afla Romeo 159 2006 Review
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The two-plus-two coupe was drawn by Giugiaro but built by Pininfarina and shares much with its four-door 159 sibling (including the V6-AWD powertrain that also debuts on the sedan at the same time) but with a shorter wheelbase. The platform has proved versatile for the Italian marque, with the new 169 and the Kamal SUV also built on the same underpinnings. Measuring 4410 mm in overall length, the Brera sits on a 2528mm wheelbase – 175mm shorter than the 159 – and measures a stout 1830mm wide and just 1341mm tall.
Starting price for the svelte and attractive coupe is $69,950 for the 2.2-litre front-wheel drive model, rising to a steep $94,950 for the V6 all-wheel drive range-topper.
The base-model uses a familiar 2.2-litre JTS direct-injection variable-valve four-cylinder, which produces 135kW of power and 230Nm of torque at 4500rpm – although Alfa says 90 per cent of that is around at 2000rpm.
The all-wheel-drive model uses a 3.2-litre JTS V6 (with its origins at Holden's Melbourne engine plant) also with direct injection and variable valve systems. All four wheels are driven using a Torsen centre differential system by 191kW of power and 322Nm of torque at a lofty 4500rpm, although the V6 is also laying claim to 90 per cent available at 2000rpm.
The local Alfa staff acknowledge the new coupe has a battle of the bulge on its hands, with the four-cylinder weighing 1470kg and the all-wheel drive V6 a portly 1630kg.
Alfa Romeo says platform changes are under way now that the underpinnings are no longer shared with GM and don't have to accommodate V8 drivetrains – expect the GTA versions to have much leaner figures.
The features list has plenty to offer, with a full-length glass roof (with sliding screen), seven airbags as standard (including a driver's knee airbag), the anti-lock and stability control systems, leather trim, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, trip computer, 18in alloy wheels and a six-speaker sound system with single CD slot sound and 10-disc stacker. The V6 shares the wheel diameter but gets a different wheel style, as well as adding premium leather trim, heated front seats, xenon headlights, a Bose sound system and Bluetooth for mobile phones.
The range-topping V6 offers a muted but growly low-speed engine note that promises plenty but is stunted by the high kerb weight.
A slick and solid gear change means keeping the V6 on the boil is anything but a chore – the flexible powerplant allows decent progress but its feels better in the mid-range. The cabin is plush, with comfortable seats that could do with a touch more later support and to be lower set, as head room is at a premium for anyone who is above 180cm.
With the glass roof's sliding screen retracted, the head room improves slightly, but in mid-summer heat the screen will have to be in place.
The rear part of the cabin might be fine for children but only four short-ish adults are going to be able to fit comfortably in the Brera.
Pushing up the pace sees the AWD V6 providing a decent – if firm – ride for the most part, but the weighty nose and drivetrain conspire to push the nose wide when cornering briskly.
The V6 returned figures in the high teens after some enthusiastic Hills driving (it can be swift if the heavy nose is compensated for), with Alfa claiming an official combined figure of 11.5.
The 2.2-litre drops that claim to 9.4 and feels lighter in the nose and despite the reduced horsepower is a more pleasant car to steer, but the four-cylinder's performance suffers for the weight as well.
The Brera has a shelf load of trophies for its styling and plenty of buyers will go for the coupe's sparkling looks, but time will tell if its lighter German competition suffers from conquest sales of the gorgeous little Alfa.
Joining the wagon train
ALFA Romeo also has added a V6 AWD model and Sportwagon, below, to the local 159 line-up.
The 159 uses the same drivetrain as the Brera – a Torsen all-wheel-drive system with 191kW of power and 322Nm of torque available.
The 159 also gets 18in alloys, with heated front seats, bi-xenon headlights, a Bose sound system and Bluetooth for mobile phones.
The 159 AWD V6 with a six-speed manual will be priced at $74,990.
The Sportwagon also has been revived in 159 guise and will be available with a wide variety of engine derivatives, but only with a six-speed manual gearbox until next year.
The Sportwagon 2.2 JTS will start at $52,990, while the 2.4 JTD starts at $58,990 and the range-topping Sportwagon AWD 3.2-litre V6 is priced from $77,990.
Range 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|
|Sportwagon 2.4 JTD||2.4L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$4,500 – 7,260||2006 Alfa Romeo 159 2006 Sportwagon 2.4 JTD Pricing 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|
|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|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data