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Alfa Romeo 156 JTD 2005 review

The first recipient could be the facelifted 147 early next year followed by the 156's replacement (the 159) towards the middle of the year.

The first recipient could be the facelifted 147 early next year followed by the 156's replacement (the 159) towards the middle of the year.

In the meantime, Ateco Automotive which imports Alfa, has specially imported four examples of the current 156 model fitted with diesel engines for evaluation.

Although the cars meet Australian design specifications, they are not for sale.

Explore the 2005 Alfa Romeo 147 range

However, we were lucky enough to be invited to drive one this week.

From the outset, we've got to say it's difficult getting your mind around this one, because the words "Alfa" and "diesel" just do not sit well in the same sentence.

After all, the legendary Italian car manufac- turer is noted for its stylish sports cars rather than any claims to building pratical forms of transport.

Its stylish, idiosyncratic uncompromising cars are designed to excite drivers, not woo the thinking driver.

The very fact Ateco is even considering such a move is a reflection of the way petrol prices are headed.

Diesel may be more expensive to buy, but one tank of diesel will take you a hell of lot further than a tank of petrol.

Some diesel-powered passenger cars are capable of travelling more than 1000km on a single tank of fuel.

So, what's the 156 JTD diesel like?

Well, it's a 2.4-litre five cylinder turbo diesel that delivers 129kW of power and a hefty 385Nm of torque from a low 2000rpm.

Just quietly, that's more torque than the top of the line GTA and torque as we know is the stuff that get's cars off the line and up hills in a hurry.

A smaller 1.9-litre engine is earmarked for the 147.

The Fiat Auto group of which Alfa is a part claims to have pioneered the direct injection technology that we see in the latest generation of high pressure, common rail diesel engines.

The 2.4-litre JTD Multijet 20 valve unit in the 156 is a noisy thing, even more so standing outside the car, and it takes a bit of practice to get the car off the line quickly, with a clutch that has a hair trigger.

But there's no denying the mid-range punch of the engine and that is after all where most the driving is done.

Alfa claims a 0-100km/h figure of 8.3 seconds for the car which is fitted with a six-speed manual transmission.

In fact, the transmission has been specially strengthened for application in the JTD to take the extra torque.

Ateco reckons the car is quicker than a V8 Monaro. We don't know about that, but we do know that our test car gave an SS Ute the biggest hurry the driver has ever had.

So, why got to all this trouble?

Well, it's all about the fuel consumption of course and that is a claimed 6.6L/100 km, even less on the highway.

With a 63-litre capacity tank, in theory that gives the car a range of 954km.

In comparison, a 2.0-litre petrol-powered 156 JTS delivers economy of 8.6L/100km.

If you do the sums, based on petrol at $115 and diesel at $1.20 a litre, you will find it works out at 4.4 per cent or $3.15 more to fill up with a tank of diesel but in return you get 30 per cent better economy for your money.

Sounds too good to be true and the car is certainly a ball to drive, but will it appeal to Alficiandos?

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Range and Specs

2.0 Twin Spark 2.0L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $2,600 – 4,510 2005 Alfa Romeo 147 2005 2.0 Twin Spark Pricing and Specs
GTA 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $4,500 – 7,260 2005 Alfa Romeo 147 2005 GTA Pricing and Specs
GTA Monza 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $4,500 – 7,260 2005 Alfa Romeo 147 2005 GTA Monza Pricing and Specs
GTA Monza Selespeed 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP $5,000 – 7,700 2005 Alfa Romeo 147 2005 GTA Monza Selespeed Pricing and Specs