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Alfa Romeo 159 2.2 JTS

Broadcast date : 13th August 2006

Over the past eight years, Alfa Romeo has sold nearly seven-hundred thousand examples of their 156 sedan. 

This is the replacement model, the 159, and there’s a lot riding on the Italian sedan.

All the traditional Alfa-charisma detailing is there, including a dramatic multiple headlight treatment up front. 

The question is, how does it shape up in a market with impressive offerings from the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz?

The overall 156 interior themes have been continued in the 159, but considerably up-dated.

Liberal use has been made of the voguish aluminium cabin-trim on the console and steering wheel, and on the 159 the dual-zone climate control has been heavily up-graded, which was necessary after the indifferent system on the 156.

In its initial launch phase, the Fiat-Alfa group has introduced the car with 1,9 litre and 2,2 litre petrol engines.

A V6 version, probably with all-wheel-drive, is planned for an Auto Africa debut in October, while a diesel model should arrive next year.

There’s a lack of sharpness and immediacy about the 159 that is at odds with what we’ve come to know and love in Alfa Romeos.

It does have a much stiffer body shell than before, which has enabled a generally good mix of ride and grip from the front-wheel-drive layout.

We feel the problem lies in the fact that the 2,2 litre engine, while a willing enough unit with a strong power delivery, doesn’t sound at all special… and Alfas have built a reputation over nearly a century for standing out from the crowd.

The same goes for the feedback through the steering and the chassis. Whereas the 156 had a fluidity that was enjoyable, the 159 simply feels remote.

As for the looks, while they are different, that long nose is extremely easy to scrape, and Alfa would do well to include front parking sensors in the package.

On the positive side, at R271 000, you do get a well-built, well-equipped car for your money.

Alfa Romeo 159 2,2 JTS
  • Engine: Four-cylinder petrol, 2 198 cc
  • Power: 136 kW @ 6 500 rpm
  • Torque: 230 Nm @ 4 500 rpm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: 9,7 seconds (claimed)
  • Top speed: 230 km/h (claimed)
  • Fuel consumption: 10,8 litres/100 km (estimated)
  • Price: R271 000
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