Alfa Romeo 159 Elegante 1.7 TBi - ALFA ROMEO 159 Car Review

Review

Added: 21 Dec 2009
Last update:

HERE'S one sure to divide opinion. What's the greatest movie car chase of all time?

The smart money would probably be on that epic showdown of Charger R/T versus Steve McQueen's Mustang in Bullitt, a scene guaranteed to have cinema-goers grappling for their seatbelts.

And of course there are classics involving those Minis in The Italian Job, Kowalski's Challenger in Vanishing Point, Jake and Elwood's Dodge sedan in The Blues Brothers and even the Freightliner truck in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

It was actually a series of coincidences that set me musing on this subject. I had just arrived home in a black Alfa Romeo 159 when one of the kids asked if I wanted to watch his new James Bond DVD, Quantum Of Solace.

The opening 10 minutes show Daniel Craig frantically trying to lose a pair of black Alfa 159s in a dash round Lake Garda.

One ends up being mangled in a head-on collision with a lorry, the other makes its exit over the edge of a cliff. What a waste.

If nothing else the Alfas' albeit brief appearance underlines that despite being around for four years, the 159 is still very much a relevant saloon model.

But it's not just that elegant, sexy profile that makes the Alfa one of the most stunning cars on the road - the autumn arrival of two new engines, one petrol and one diesel, has raised the stakes as well.

This 159 Elegante featured the petrol version, a fiery 1.75-litre unit that improves performance thanks to the curiously named 'scavenging' technology.

Without getting too technical, it basically maximizes torque at very low engine speeds, allowing for better exploitation of the turbocharger.

And the results are maximum pulling power at just 1,500rpm - 70 per cent greater than that of a conventional turbo engine - and throttle response times slashed by half.

The benefit to the driver is not only better acceleration but also fewer gear changes, better fuel economy and lower emissions - down six bands in company car benefit in kind tax.

The 159 is a terrific long distance cruiser that boasts the ride and handling to match its looks, plus a miles per gallon return in the low thirties.

Inside there's a high quality feel to the materials and a cockpit-style layout with deeply cowled dials angled towards the driver and plenty of space up front.

Things are tight in the back though and the high boot lip doesn't help loading up what's a disappointingly small boot.

Elegante trim is slap bang in the middle of the five grades of spec and adds rear parking sensors, visibility pack and a luxury Alfatex interior to the likes of Blue&Me hands-free system with voice recognition, 17-inch alloys, twin exhaust pipes, dual zone climate control, stainless steel kick plates and Follow Me Home headlamps.

There are also seven airbags to go with a maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating.

FAST FACTS

Alfa Romeo 159 Elegante 1.7 TBi saloon

Price: £22,750

Mechanical: 200bhp, 1,742cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max speed: 147mph

0-62mph: 7.7 seconds

Combined mpg: 34.9

Insurance group: 10

CO2 emissions: 189g/km

BiK rating: 25%

Warranty: 3yrs/ unlimited mileage.

Words: Mike Torpey

Keywords: Alfa Romeo, 159