SUAVE AND SEXY
Alfa’s 159 has always been blessed with good looks and decent road manners. Now, the package has been enhanced with the addition of a new, cleaner 2.0-litre version. Ian Robertson reports
The Alfa Romeo 159 has always been a firm favourite of ours here at What Diesel. We’ve always admired its sharp good looks, beautifully crafted cabin and decent road manners. Now, the Italian car maker is hoping to build on those attributes with improvements to the 159 range, including a new 170bhp 2.0-litre JTDM engine, and a wider range of trim levels. Shoehorned in between the previous Turismo and Lusso models are brand new Turismo Sport and Elegante versions, offering extra equipment compared to the Turismo models that they are based on. But it’s the established, luxurious Lusso model that is tested here, priced at £23,850.
The interior of the 159 is unchanged compared to the previous versions, with a low-slung, sporty driving position and fluted leather seats that hug your body tightly. The centre console is angled towards the driver and finely crafted with a machined feel to the metal finish. The dashboard itself is made from soft-touch plastics and gives an overall feeling of quality, even though our test car was beset with squeaks and rattles from the interior. When compared to a Mondeo or Insignia, the 159 feels cosier inside, with less head and legroom than it’s more mainstream rivals. That goes for the amount of boot space too, with just 405 litres of luggage room available. The new 2.0-litre JTDM engine is a further development of its smaller capacity brother, and offers plenty of low-down torque, together with decent refinement. There’s plenty of go, with power right across the rev range, and it often feels quicker than the 170bhp would suggest.
Compared to the 1.9 JTDM 16v versions, the new engine boasts lower CO2 emissions at 142g/km and improved fuel economy of 52.3mpg on the combined cycle. On back roads, the 159 is a sharp as a tack, with loads of feedback through the steering wheel and plentiful grip, while the ride is sporty, but supple. At motorway speeds, it makes for a comfortable companion – road and wind noise are kept well in check. In Lusso trim, the 159 is priced mid-way between mainstream rivals like the Exeo and Passat and more premium offerings from Audi, BMW and Lexus. Equipment levels are suitably high with tri-zone climate control, leather upholstery and all manner of electric and safety equipment as standard.
One additional feature that you can’t count in pure pounds, and comes as standard on all 159’s, are those drop dead gorgeous looks that attract so many admiring glances from passers by. The purchase of a 159 cannot be measured in a purely financial way – it’s more of an emotional buy. As a sporting saloon, offering performance and a good helping of style, it delivers both in spades.
RIVALS : Honda Accord 2.2 i-DTEC EX, Lexus IS 220d SE-I, SEAT Exeo SE Lux 2.0 TDI, VW Passat Highline Plus 2.0 TDI
- Engine: 1956cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel with particulate filter
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max Power: 170bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 266lb ft at 1,750rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,500kg
- Max speed: 136mph
- 0-62mph: 8.8secs
- Combined Consumption: 52.3mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 142g/km (F)
- Bootspace: 405litres
- Insurance group: 13
Good looks, nicely crafted cabin, lower emissions, better fuel economy, decent performance, great to drive
Quality niggles still present, not as roomy as its rivals, smaller loadbay