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Alfa Romeo 159: daring and ambitious

Alfa 159: lurking for a new round, after the success of its 1st generation.

15 June 2005.

One of the recent Geneva International Motor Show stars, the Alfa 159, made its market debut last June. The founder of the new family that will replace the 156, and therefore the heir to a successful model (from 1997 to the present day 680,000 units have been sold), this original saloon takes up the baton, to become the new benchmark in its segment.

Born from Alfa’s long experience in the production of prestigious sports saloons, the Alfa 159 heralds a new generation of cars from Alfa. The 159 Project is the result of innovative design methodologies developed by an international team that has succeeded in combining performance and formerly irreconcilable targets – extremely entertaining driving, outstanding performance and distinctive styling – with outstanding levels of safety, comfort and sturdiness, without compromise. The results include a completely new chassis with new suspension, and a new generation of engines and gearboxes.

An upper medium saloon/sedan contender in fwd or awd versions.

In other words, this is an extremely interesting new model that adds lustre to the remarkable history of Alfa Romeo saloons. The designers drew on this very history, creating a design that is unmistakably Italian.

Exterior design - The new Alfa 159 is a prestigious saloon that combines refined Italian styling with the sporty elegance typical of Alfa Romeo. Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro in collaboration with the Alfa Romeo Styling Centre, the new car has an elegant, sinuous line, which combines generous dimensions with the compactness typical of Alfa Romeo sportiness: the car is 4,660 millimetres long, 1,828 mm wide and 1,417 high, with a wheelbase of 2,700 millimetres.

Starting with the strong, essential front, which is dominated by the large Alfa Romeo shield. The line of the entire car springs from here, combining a light stylistic “aggressiveness” with strikingly elegant forms. This impression is underlined by the lateral air intakes, the beautiful light clusters and the deep “V” of the bonnet which underlines the presence of a generous engine, the compact, tapered passenger compartment and the wings which represent the widest point of the body.

The rear end with its horizontal design.

The rear end with its horizontal design, speaks the same language as the front: from the curve of the rear window over the rear wheels to the wrapround light clusters, small spoiler and double chromed exhaust tail-pipe that increase the sporty impression.

The profile of the Alfa 159 reminds us that the car’s elegance is based on harmonious relations: on one hand the relation between the long bonnet and the compact passenger compartment gives the car prestige, while the ratio between the windows and the sides gives it a sporty personality, highlighted by the compactness of the cabin, an effect created primarily by the pillars (the front pillar set back and the “elbow” shaped rear pillar). The deep slash in the side also emphasises the car’s sleekness.

The interior is developed in the characteristic “cockpit” structure.

Interior design - Like the external styling, the interior of the Alfa 159, designed by the Alfa Romeo Styling Centre, combines superb styling and a sporty personality. Starting with the excellent driving position, which is defined by precise ratios between the pedals, the seat, the steering wheel and the gearbox, evolved to provide maximum control and comfort.

The interior is developed around the driver in the characteristic “cockpit” structure, which incorporates the classic three-spoke steering wheel, the two ribs of the lip, the instruments on the console and the gear lever, achieving continuity between the facia and the console. The uniformity of the stylistic language is also evident in the circular shape of the analogue dials, the air vents, and the buttons and knobs. Even the symbols and graphics conform to the same pattern, and the principle of immediate clarity and easy legibility.

Electronic key with Start/Stop button.

The front passenger seat differs for the uncluttered, enveloping space of the facia which links up with the instrument panel to enhance the sense of roominess and comfort. The supportive, sporty front and rear seats reiterate this idea, painstakingly made with top quality materials, paying great attention to the overstitching, and the traditional detail of the segments and piping. The interior of the new Alfa 159 embodies the balanced combination of elegance and sportiness that is the hallmark of all Alfa Romeo cars. It is underlined by essential, sober, clean lines and superb materials: quality fabrics, precious fine grain leather, aluminium that is cold to touch, and exquisite craftsmanship with the appeal of artisan handiwork.

Comfort - The Alfa 159 surrounds the driver and passengers with technologies that guarantee a high level of dynamic, acoustic and climatic comfort. The efficient soundproofing and the high torsional and flexural rigidity of the bodyshell create a muted, enveloping vibration-free interior ambience. That is not all. The new model also features a generous luggage compartment and numerous storage units, plus exclusive equipment to enhance well-being on board. This includes 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, automatic climate system with dual or tri-zone air distribution and temperature control, radio with CD (and MP3 file) player and a 10-disc CD-changer, a BOSE® Hi-fi Sound System with a central speaker on the facia for sharper acoustics, seats with electrical adjustment, a folding rear seat and pushbutton ignition control on the console.

Several volume possibilities for the boot.

Roadholding - The Alfa 159 guarantees the extraordinary roadholding that is innate in all Alfa Romeo models. The merit goes to the new suspension (high double wishbones at the front and Multilink at the rear) and extremely precise steering (the most direct of the standard saloons, with a small turning circle). This prestigious new saloon also features numerous electronic systems that control the car’s dynamic behaviour, including a sophisticated Vehicle Dynamic Control system (VDC), Anti Slip Regulation (ASR), Hydraulic Brake Assistance (HBA) which intervenes during emergency braking, ABS complete with EBD, and a Hill Holder to simplify hill starts.

The front-wheel drive versions in the Alfa 159 range are joined by a version with Q4 permanent four-wheel drive, a system which guarantees excellent traction and enjoyable driving. The Alfa 159 4x4 system is permanent, with three differentials, and it splits drive constantly and dynamically over the 4 wheels, both when accelerating and on the release, maintaining the highest levels of active safety and sportiness. The Torsen C self-locking central differential manages the drive torque, splitting it 57% to the rear wheel and 43% to the front wheels, to produce a slight oversteer, particularly with a sporty driving style. The system also guarantees excellent traction in all grip conditions, by automatically checking slip.

Passive safety - One aim of the new Alfa 159 Project was to set the benchmark for passive safety. To do this, the Alfa Romeo engineers designed and developed the new “premium” floorpan, with high performance materials, multiply sheet metal and laser welding. The architecture of the bodyshell also benefits from numerous measures such as the use of boxed elements that are connected rigidly both transversely and vertically, three load lines in the front, longitudinals that run the whole length of the car, built-in structures and a larger number of spot welds around structural nodes. The result is the excellent torsional rigidity of the bodyshell, the best in its segment at over 180,000 daNm/rad.

No less than eight airbags.

The Alfa 159 boasts as many as eight airbags (including special bags to protect the knees and sidebags that extend all along the window area), innovative restraint systems (pretensioners on the clasps and decreasing load limiters on the seat belts), and 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.

Altogether, these features make the Alfa 159 the new benchmark for its segment in terms of safety, underlined by the ease with which it sails through the most difficult tests simulating all types of accident (head-on, side-on, overturning, rear impact and fire), taking into account the various speeds at which impact may occur, the different types of obstacles, and the need to protect occupants with very different physical characteristics.

Engines and gearboxes - The new model is equipped with a broad, comprehensive range of engines. First of all, the three new JTS petrol engines with continuous dual variable valve timing (inlet and exhaust): the 3.2 V6 24v (191 kW - 260 bhp), the 2.2 (136 kW - 185 bhp) and the 1.9 (118 kW – 160 bhp), with a specific power output between 81 and 85 bhp/l. All the engines meet Euro 4 standards, exploiting the direct petrol injection in full thanks to a particular combustion system known as JTS: Jet Thrust Stoichiometric. For the customer, this means brilliant engine performance, which enhances the driving enjoyment and the performance of the car. The torque values of the three engines are equally outstanding, and 88% is already available at 2,000 rpm: 322 Nm (32.8 kgm) at 4,500 rpm for the 3.2 V6 JTS, 230 Nm (23.4 kgm) at 4,500 rpm for the 2.2 JTS, and 190 Nm (19.4 kgm) at 4,500 rpm for the 1.9 JTS,

Double wishbones suspension at the front.

Alfa Romeo has always been on the leading edge in the field of diesel engines too, epitomised by the 2.4 JTDM 5-cylinder 20v engine (147 kW - 200 bhp at 4000 rpm) and torque of 400 Nm (40.8 kgm at 2,000 rpm), and the two 1.9 JTDM: the first is a “16v” delivering 110 kW (150 bhp at 4,000 rpm) and torque of 320 Nm (32.6 kgm at 2,000 rpm), the second is an “8v” delivering 88 kW (120 bhp at 4,000 rpm) and torque of 280 Nm (28.6 kgm at 2,000 rpm). On the latest generation of “Common Rail” engines, i.e. the JTD units with Multijet technology, turbocharging is entrusted to a variable geometry turbo and intercooler. The 1.9 JTDM exploits a specific rotor developed by Alfa Romeo while the 2.4 JTDM has a new cylinder head and new con rods in “fractured” steel. The three engines all meet Euro 4 requirements, and incorporate a particulate trap (DPF) which eliminates fine dust almost entirely, in line with the current indications regarding future Euro 5 limits. It is a “for life” system that does not need to be regenerated with additives, and will be eligible for tax incentives.

The range includes 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.

Range and services - The new model is offered in a very comprehensive range, where every motorist will find the Alfa 159 that he or she wants. The range is proposed with 6 engines, 2 outfits, 9 body colours and 3 interiors in 3 different shades (black, grey tone-on-tone, black and beige) available in flocked fabric, Alfatex®, leather and fine grain leather by Frau®. The range also offers all customers, even the most demanding, a choice of different features and devices, as well as an array of financial and leasing solutions that are unique on the car market today.

Quality - The Alfa Romeo 159 was designed to embody uncompromising quality. This target was pursued throughout the development of the car, starting from its conception, through all the many tests that the car was subjected to, right up to the manufacturing process.

6 engines, 2 outfits, 9 body colours and 3 interiors in 3 different shades.

The quality of the Alfa 159 is also expressed in the choice of materials used in the interior, which are smooth to the touch, and perfect, precise coupling, in the external treatment which envisages water-based paint protected by a double layer of varnish to maintain its brilliance in time, and in the fine tuning of the Alfa Romeo engines to obtain outstanding performance and comfort.

For the Alfa 159, “quality” also means dynamic quality at the top of its class, achieved with a sophisticated suspension system and the excellent torsional rigidity of the bodyshell. And finally, “quality” also means a world of dedicated services for our customers, with solutions for every possible requirement.

Fiat companies -  To develop the 159, the company deployed its best resources and ensured that maximum quality and reliability standards were applied throughout the product development and construction process. It forged a fruitful cooperative relationship with outside suppliers and other Fiat companies, including Magneti Marelli, Centro Ricerche Fiat and Elasis. And this collaboration was responsible for the many innovative solutions that make the Alfa 159 the new benchmark in its category.

Click here to open the full specs tables

Click on the photo to open the full specs table.

Magneti Marelli -  Marelli has contributed elegance, comfort, technology and safety to the development of the Alfa 159, the prestigious new saloon that aims to be a benchmark for the entire segment. The exterior look of the car is expressed to a large extent by the headlights developed by Automotive Lighting in its plant in Venaria Reale (Turin), which define its personality and harmonise forms and volumes. There is a choice of two types: halogen headlights with a 70 mm elliptical module and H7 lamp, or headlamps with Bi-Xenon technology. The car’s lights are important design features, confirming the “family feeling” that links the Alfa 159 and Alfa Romeo Brera.

Passenger compartment comfort is enhanced by the infotelematic system complete with a 6.5” active matrix TFT colour display which incorporates a satellite navigator, radio, CD and MP3 player, hands-free GSM dual band telephone and voice controls. The new graphics of the user interface and a “Birdview” option for the navigator, which views the map and the route from above, both make their debut on the Alfa 159. And the device receives and manages RDS-TMC, traffic news and weather forecasts through the FM radio frequencies, displaying them as icons on the monitor. Magneti Marelli also supplies the body computer, the electronic control unit that manages the CAN networks and other important functions such as diagnostics, the immobiliser, various sensors, the lights and the fuel level.

Click here to open the equipment table

Click on the photo to open the equipments table.

Magneti Marelli’s technological contribution to the “engine control system” envisages the adoption of the Diesel Throttle Module, an electronic “drive by wire” throttle valve, on the 5-cylinder and 4-cylinder 16-valve diesel versions, which makes it easier to turn the engine off. On the 2.2 JTS petrol version, the Alfa 159 will adopt the Selespeed robotised transmission: this is the latest evolution of the fast, reliable, power-assisted gearbox developed from Magneti Marelli’s experience in Formula 1, which first appeared on a mass production model on the Alfa Romeo 156. And finally, Magneti Marelli has completely redesigned the suspension system to set a new benchmark for the balance between handling and comfort. A high double wishbone layout borrowed from racing experience was chosen for the front, because it guarantees high dynamic performance, extremely responsive steering and pinpoint driving. For the rear, the choice went to a Multilink system which controls wheel movement in a sophisticated manner, guaranteeing the highest performance. The Pomigliano d’Arco and Sulmona plants are involved in the industrial panelling, mechanical engineering and assembly operations.

Elasis -  Elasis was involved in the development of the electronic control units for the new direct injection petrol engines for the Alfa 159. Elasis developed a Hardware In the Loop (HIL) simulator to verify that the electronic control unit functioned correctly and the way it was incorporated on board the vehicle well before the car went into production. The idea behind this technology is to simulate in the laboratory the environment in which the control units will operate, using a real-time system. With this technology it is possible to achieve levels of accuracy that cannot be obtained with manual testing based on conventional systems.

Click to open the exterior dimensions photo.

Click to open the exterior dimensions photo.

What is more, during the development of these engines, Elasis also contributed to the development of the engine control software, concentrating in particular on all the functions related to management of the variable valve timing by means of “phasers”. When the car went into production, Elasis was involved in the verification and calibration of the diagnostic systems for the engine components, focusing its attention on components considered “Emission Relevant” (by EOBD). Elasis also contributed to the verification of the manufacturing process at the Pomigliano plant.

Elasis performed the following activities to support manufacture of the Alfa 159: emissions analysis on fleet vehicles; support to the plant during the launch: analysis/solution of specific NVH problems. Elasis also worked on the M32 gearbox grid, being involved in its development, by designing shafts, gears, differential, casing and caps, performing bench tests on all the versions for the petrol engines, and taking charge of NVH fine tuning.

Virtual simulation of biomechanical processes in head-on collisions helped to optimise the Alfa 159’s restraint systems, while ergonomic verification improved visibility inside the passenger compartment. And finally, together with the Process Engineering department of Fiat Auto Manufacturing, Elasis developed the methodology and industrialisation of Panelling and Assembly processes at the Pomigliano d’Arco plant, attributing particular attention and responsibility to the “Qualification of Manufacturing Processes”. The joint Elasis–Fiat Auto team collaborated successfully, starting with the development of Process Verification systems at the pilot plant of Turin-Beinasco, and evolving machining cycles and undertaking workplace analysis to respect process documentation developed in simultaneous engineering by the Fiat Auto Technologies department, in order to achieve the model process targets, the reference gates for the “authorisation to manufacture”.

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