Italian styling, the performance and handling of a thoroughbred sports car, and the flexible, versatile use of space of a prestigious station wagon. These are, very briefly, the salient features of the Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon, the new car that will be on the market in Italy in March, followed by the other European markets.
Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro in collaboration with the Alfa Romeo Style Centre, the 159 Sportwagon is as compact as the saloon - the total length is exactly the same (4,660 millimetres) - with a fluid line that runs without hesitation from nose to tail, focusing on a 'groove' which makes the entire car light and sleek, with a refined play of light and shade (it is 1,828 mm wide and 1,425 high, with a wheelbase of 2,700 millimetres).
The result is a sporty car on which the eye does not notice the 'extra volume' typical of a station wagon: this is the real strong point of the new model, which becomes all the more captivating where most station wagons reveal their main limitations. The Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon combines this winning feature with a luggage compartment that is a 'designed space' which meets a variety of requirements, whether it is used for leisure time or for business. And it never compromises where sportiness and performance are concerned. An example? The version equipped with the powerful 3.2 V6 Q4 24 valve engine, which delivers a maximum power output of 260 bhp (191 kW) at 6200 rpm and torque of 322 Nm (32.8 kgm) at 4500 rpm. The resulting performance is amazing: the Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon 3.2 V6 accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.2 seconds and reaches a top speed of 237 km/h.
The luggage compartment is more accessible than you would expect on a station wagon (both from the passenger compartment and from the back, thanks to the forward hinged tailgate) and the loading volume is excellent (445 litres), the result of a series of changes to the bodywork and a rational use of space.
The rear end speaks the same language as the rest of the car, blending styling details typical of Alfa and characteristic features of the saloon, with elements peculiar to the Sportwagon. A number of appropriate stylistic solutions such as the compact passenger compartment ensure that the new model maintains Alfa Romeo's classical sportiness. The front is unchanged, dominated by the same distinctive features as the saloon, with the harmonious balance that produces the elegance and assertiveness you expect from an Alfa Romeo.
Quiet running, a comfortable climate and dynamic well-being: these are the features of the new model, achieved by sophisticated technologies, which create an ideal environment no matter how far you travel or how long you spend in the car. For example, the excellent articulation index which is on a par with the best competition. On the Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon you can converse normally, or listen undisturbed to music reproduced by the high fidelity BOSEÂ® Hi-Fi Sound System with a central speaker on the facia for sharper acoustics. That is not all. Well-being on board is also enhanced by the automatic climate system with dual or tri-zone air distribution and temperature control, Cruise Control, rain, dusk, and front and rear parking sensors, a satellite navigator with maps (also with a 'Birdview' display), voice controls and a built-in GSM hands-free telephone, a split rear seat, windscreen heating in the wiper area, and elegant darker glazing for the rear side windows and rear window. And finally, the 'Home Link' device can be installed on the sun visor, and can be programmed to remotely open up to 3 electric gates.
Quality and roadholding
The Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon was designed for uncompromising quality, and was subjected to endless tests and controls throughout its development. The result is a car that offers not only Italian styling and the highest safety levels, but also superb roadholding. In fact, the most striking feature of all Alfa Romeos is the sensation of a car that is glued to the road and responds with unusual promptness to the steering wheel, so that the driver always knows exactly what the front axle is doing, what the grip limit is and what he has to do to put the front wheels where he wants them. The merit goes to the pinpoint steering and new suspension already adopted on the saloon: high double wishbones at the front for excellent lateral roadholding, great efficiency and precise response to the steering, and outstanding traction, and Multilink at the rear, which makes the car extremely stable in high speed manoeuvres and very agile on 'mixed narrow' roads, the sign of a true sports car. Like the saloon, the Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon with the powerful 3.2 V6 Q4 engine also proposes Q4 permanent four-wheel drive, with three differentials (the Torsen C self-locking central differential manages the drive torque, splitting it 57% to the rear wheel and 43% to the front wheels).
Like the saloon which was recently awarded the prestigious 5-star EuroNCAP rating, the new Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon confirms the extraordinary amount of attention its designers have focused on every aspect related to safety. Starting with preventive safety, which is guaranteed by the various technical solutions that help the driver to keep his mind on his driving: comfort, quiet running, climate control, an ergonomic driving position, the layout of the controls and legible instruments. Then there is active safety, in other words roadholding, braking capacity and complete control over the car's dynamic behaviour, thanks to ABS complete with EBD, the sophisticated Vehicle Dynamic Control system (VDC), Anti Slip Regulation (ASR), Hydraulic Brake Assistance (HBA) which intervenes during emergency braking, and a Hill Holder to simplify hill starts.
But it is in passive safety that the Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon really comes into its own. The new car fits innovative restraint systems (pretensioners on the clasps and decreasing load limiters on the seat-belts), as many as eight airbags (including special bags to protect the knees and sidebags, that extend all along the window area), and innovative front seats with an 'anti-whiplash' device that brings the head-restraint nearer to the occupant's neck in the event of a rear impact. The torsional rigidity of the Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon's bodyshell is unrivalled, and the merit goes to both the new 'premium' floorpan, the same used on the saloon, which is built with high performance materials, multiply sheet metal and laser welding, and to the numerous changes the Alfa Romeo engineers introduced to the bodyshell architecture. Thanks to this equipment and the other safety measures, the Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon easily meets the strictest standards for occupant protection. This has been demonstrated in numerous crash tests, slide tests and computer simulations.
Engines and gearboxes
The heart and soul of every Alfa Romeo model is its engine. The exciting styling and strong personality of every model hide a range of excellent engines with state-of-the-art technology and generous performance. The Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon is no exception. Like the saloon, it is powered by the three new JTS engines with continuous dual variable valve timing - the 3.2 V6 Q4 24v (260 bhp), the 2.2 (185 bhp) and the 1.9 (160 bhp) - and three Multijet engines: the 2.4 JTDm 20v (200 bhp), the 1.9 JTDm 16v (150 bhp) and the 1.9 JTDm 8v (120 bhp). A 1.8 litre petrol engine delivering 140 bhp will also be available at a later date. All the engines meet Euro 4 requirements. The diesel versions all incorporate a particulate trap (DPF), and they all deliver superb performance, combined with new mechanical gearboxes, all with six speeds, short strokes, precise engagement and limited loads. Automatic transmissions and a robotised Selespeed gearbox, also with six speeds, will be available on certain versions.