Alfa Romeo 159 Saloon
Alfa Romeo 159
Alfa Romeo 159 Front
Alfa Romeo 159 JTS
Alfa 159 Sportwagon
A site you never want to see
Alfa Romeo 159 v6 Q4 at our workshop
Alfa Romeo 159 V6 JTS Engine
Alfa Romeo 159 Facia
Hindsight is a perfect science, how things turned out with the 159 was not as I expected when I wrote the article below. The 159 was a collaboration with General Motors and all but the very last cars were an amalgamation of bits from both manufacturers, so the 2.2 and the 3.2 were GM blocks with Alfa Romeo heads.
The problem with both of these engines was the timing chain, Alfa Romeo used a duplex (twin) chain for at least 30 years before the 159 as they were reliable and did not stretch. All of a sudden despite the years of experience Alfa Romeo decided that they could get away with a simplex (single) chain, this was a big mistake and consequently, the chains stretched. This was a significant issue and was especially prevalent on the 2.2 engine, with chains lasting as little as 40,000 miles. The diesels were a Fiat power train's product and then there was the gearbox, the M32, which is a bit of a disaster as well with input shaft bearings failing on a regular basis.
The later 1750 turbo and 2.0l Diesel engines were altogether better and a car with either of these engines are much sought after these days and prices reflect that. The reduction in the weight of the engine also changed the character of the car with both these later cars being better balanced handling wise.
With cars getting older corrosion is a significant issue, luckily this is rarely a problem with the body of the car. However the front subframe and rear suspension trailing arms can corrode badly and can be an expensive job to repair, and I would recommend treatment of both of these parts should be made a priority upon purchase. The front subframe suffers especially badly as the undertray forms a nice tray full of water which it sits in and corrodes away.
The Alfa Romeo 159 started development in June 2001 and was designed to compete in the D segment of the car market this puts it directly against the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C Class and the Lexus 200. The Alfa 159 is named after the famous post-war formula 1 car the Alfetta 159 and was styled by Giugiaro's Ital Design, the design departs from the Alfa 156 and loses the hidden door handles but retains a distinct family resemblance, when the two cars are parked together they appear as brother and sister the Alfa 159 being slightly larger in everything but roof height. The sharply creased front wing tops lead to a higher shoulder line that drops down to the front air dam, this gives the car a wide and aggressive stance. The rear end of the car is very similar to the 156 but the combination of individual rear lights and a strong crease line across the boot give the rear a much more muscular look.
The interior of the car has been largely designed in house by the Centro stile it retains a certain similarity to the Alfa 156 which itself harks back to the 1750 GTV's of the early 1970s. The front seats have ample adjustments that will suit most drivers and are very supportive. The steering wheel is adjustable in all directions, however, the rear legroom is not class-leading but is still more than adequate.
The chassis is based on Alfa Romeos 'premium' platform which is considerably stiffer than the outgoing 156 chassis this has allowed Alfa Romeos Engineers to exploit the suspension, the combination of chassis stiffness and subtle suspension is a revelation. This is further enhanced by the very low ratio steering rack, which comes into its own on twisty roads in fact the car corners with almost no lean and grip is tremendous enough to bring a smile to the face of any Alfisti. There is more anti-dive geometry than on the Alfa 156 and the dampers have hydraulic silicone-filled bump stops, engineering chief Paolo Masai has tried to reduce noise vibration and harshness to an absolute minimum.
Brakes are also a great improvement on the Alfa 156s they are developed in conjunction with Brembo and even the smallest engines have 305mm front and 278mm rear disks which is the same size as the Alfa 156 GTA while the larger-engined cars have 330mm front and 293 mm rear disks. The brakes are also monitored by an anti-lock braking system which is also connected to the vehicle dynamic control.
The engines are a mixture of designs, we have the diesel engines we have seen before in the outgoing 156 and new GM derived petrol engines, we will have the choice of 1.9 and 2.2 litre four-cylinder petrol engines and the mighty 3.2 litre V6 and in diesel we will get the 1.9 four-cylinder engine and 2.4 five-cylinder engine. The engines all have a very good spread of torque and the petrol engines have more guts than the outgoing Fiat engines and will not disappoint any petrol head, probably the choice of engines are the 3.2 litre petrol engine and the 2.4 M jet diesel, the 3.2 V6 sounds absolutely fabulous when it is on song. See our Alfa Romeo 159 Servicing Costs.
Looking further ahead, a 159 GTA should be released in late 2007 and this could have a twin-turbo V6 putting out 380hp using the Q4 four-wheel drive train. But it would seem that Alfa has also been testing 159 mules with the 4.7litre V8 at 450hp, and we have managed to find some tantalising glimpses of this car on the internet. There is also the possibility that Alfa could use the 3.6 litre version of the engine that was jointly developed with GM as an interim measure.
The new premium platform is quite a departure from the old 156 chassis and it is very well built, it easily compares to anything BMW or Mercedes are producing and it will easily be able to take all the power that is thrown at it, I am not kidding this is not anything like the last generation of Alfa Romeos it is built to last. However Alfa's newfound build quality is reflected in the kerb weight and this is an issue they plan to address over the next couple of years, with the use of advanced materials they plan to cut the weight by 150 Kg which will help with the performance figures as well
The Alfa Romeo 159 went on sale in the UK at the end of February 2006 with nine versions ranging in price from £19,995 to £28,195.