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Alfa Romeo 159 JTS and JTD 2006 Review

The 156 has done Alfa a fine service over seven years and now it's time for the 159 to drum up more volume in a segment traditionally dominated by perennial favourite, the BMW 3-series.

The 156 has done Alfa a fine service over seven years and now it's time for the 159 to drum up more volume in a segment traditionally dominated by perennial favourite, the BMW 3-series.

There are various configurations to suit most tastes with a choice of a 2.2-litre petrol, 2.4-litre turbo-diesel and 3.2-litre V6 from this week with a 1.9-litre turbo-diesel to join the family along with automatic transmissions in the first quarter of next year.

As with the 156, the 159 is a well-sorted mid-sized sedan, one of the sweetest handling front-drivers in the business.

Driven back-to-back on the launch a fortnight ago the 2.2-litre petrol and 2.4-litre turbo-diesel have completely different characters.

The diesel is going to create a lot of showroom traffic, coming in at $55,990, compared with the petrol car, the entry to the 159 line at $49,990.

At idle there is a degree of clatter from the diesel but once it's running it is supremely quiet, so much so that it's hard to detect whether you have the right revs for the right gear.

And that is critical with this engine that needs to be kept on the boil with only a narrow rev band with which to work.

The diesel is an evolution of the five-cylinder 10-valve common rail diesel, this 20-valve example creating significantly more performance with 147kW of power and a considerable 400Nm of twist from 2000rpm.

Up to 90 per cent of the torque arrives from 1750rpm-3500rpm aided by the KKK 2080 turbo that is armed with a variable geometry turbine which helps lift the way power arrives.

There is still a bit of lag. However the diesel, without being sports car quick, is impressively strong once it hits its peak figures.

Officially the factory figures say the diesel, which is linked to a notchy but not imprecise six-speed manual gearbox, consumes 6.8 litres/100km but on the launch drive through Sydney traffic and down to Wisemans Ferry and on to the Hunter Valley, it averaged a tick over 8 litres/100km.

But the diesel was being hunted for much of the trip and was operating high in the rev range so it was expected to exceed fuel consumption figures based on normal driving.

Over some patchy back road surfaces the diesel remained well behaved up front, a bit of kickback through the steering here and there but not agricultural, like some front-driven force-fed Euro fighters.

There is more than enough feedback through the steering, communication between the front wheels and the driver always there.

The petrol model is a completely different beast. Gear ratios are not as tall and the M32 6-speed manual is even neater and slicker than the diesel's F40 6-speed manual box.

Compared with the 156, the 159 2.2-litre petrol engine seems a little flat, a bit soulless and without that lively, peaky character.

In the back seat the rear leg room is compromised and the 10-stack CD player takes up a bit of space in the right-hand corner of the boot.

Inside, the dash and controls are ergonomically on the button and there is a new spot for the boot release — on the roof where the map lights are located.

As is becoming a mandatory fashion statement these days, the 159 comes with a push button starter, gimmicky but it's all about keeping up with the Joneses.

There are seven airbags including front kneebags standard along with a multitude of active safety features.

All models come with traction, vehicle dynamic control (VDC), anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution and an ASR feature to limit wheel slip under acceleration.

Part of the VDC's task is a Hill Holder function to stop rollback away from lights or when stopped up gradients.

Powerful Brembo brakes, 330mm x 28mm ventilated discs up front and 292mm x 22mm ventilated discs in the rear, come standard on the V6 and also on the 2.4-litre turbo-diesel.

Pricing guides

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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
Pricing Guide


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