Alfa Romeo 159 1.9 JTD Turismo saloon - ALFA ROMEO 159 Car Review

Review

Added: 16 Oct 2006
Last update:

ALFA Romeo’s 159 saloon and estate models are proving significantly more popular than the company’s most successful models – the 156 saloon and Sportwagon that they replace.

Despite the continued family similarity the newcomers are totally new with virtually no common parts.

The materials used are of a higher quality, the cars are built to a better standard and are significantly larger all round.

The result is a rival for the BMW 3 Series that Alfa believes has the advantage of being more family friendly.

From a design point of view the 159 is more dramatic in appearance than even the eye-catching 156, thanks mainly to the horizontal triple front light arrangement.

The grille may not be on the same grand scale as that of the rival Audi A4 but it has grown with the passage of time and is now a defining feature.

Unfortunately the front of the car is not exactly pedestrian-friendly, earning just a single one-star safety rating for anyone unlucky enough to be knocked over despite a five-star rating for the vehicle’s occupants.

The split between saloon and Sportwagon sales is roughly even and both achieve retained values of about 38 per cent over three years.

This is not as good as those of its German rivals but is good by Alfa’s previous standards.

As the car is up to 15 per cent less expensive to buy initially this means that the whole-life ownership costs are favourable.

There are nine versions of the 159 with prices ranging from £19,995 for the 1.9-litre petrol model to £28,250 for the 3.2-litre V6, with a 2.2-litre petrol unit between the two.

There is also a pair of diesels of 1.9 and 2.4 litres, with the latter being a five-cylinder unit developing 200bhp.

All five engines are linked to six-speed manual transmissions and there is the option of a six-speed automatic for the diesels and the most powerful of the petrol engines, which has four wheel drive.

On the road the 159 carries on the Alfa tradition of being strong on driver enjoyment.

The ride and handling are taut but comfortable, the steering and gear change are precision personified whilst performance from each of the engines is impressive.

Inside, the car is visually very similar to the 156 although the quality of materials used is manifestly better and there is a full range of new-tech electronic equipment on offer including sat-nav and Bluetooth connectivity.

Despite the increased exterior dimensions rear leg room seems limited although Alfa insists that it is actually more generous than that of the 3 Series.

On the road the 1.9-litre diesel will be the pick of the bunch for most buyers.

It offers 150bhp of power, which is about average for the class and translates into brisk acceleration and relaxed cruising at motorway speeds.

Economy averages about 45mpg, which is reasonable for a family-sized saloon or estate model and the CO2 figure means a company car tax liability of just 22 per cent.

With a relatively low insurance banding it means that the oil-burning Alfa is relatively modest to run, which given its style and panache makes it an attractive alternative to mainstream Mondeos and Vectras and the like.

FAST FACTS

Alfa Romeo 159 1.9 JTD Turismo saloon

Price: £20,495

Mechanical: 150bhp, 1,910cc diesel engine driving front wheels via 6spd manual gearbox

Max Speed: 129mph

0-62mph: 9.6secs

Combined mpg: 46

Insurance group: 12

CO2 emissions: 162g/km

BiK rating: 22%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles; 8yrs antirust; 3yrs paint

Words: Steve Hughes

Keywords: ALFA ROMEO, 159