The Alfa 159 Sportwagon is the Italian car that is both beautiful and sturdy, passionate and dynamic. The Alfa 159 Sportwagon is an estate car with a strong character, a generous payload, flexible to use and at the same time capable of the performance of a sporting thoroughbred. Alfa Romeo technology is used in a car with a harmonious style, a car that can satisfy the needs of those who, in addition to space, are looking for comfort, safety, power and sturdiness. It exudes all the personality of the new generation Alfa Romeo.
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 159 Sportwagon, the new car that is on the market in Italy from March.
It would be limiting to talk about the ‘station wagon version’ of the Alfa 159 because the car has a personality of its own and strong features that are summed up successfully in the definition ‘Sportwagon’. The new model combines the flowing line of a long roof that recalls the styling of certain coupes, like the spoiler on the roof and the very aerodynamic lines. But at the same time, the car’s interior space guarantees a generous, practical loading volume. In other words, the Alfa 159 Sportwagon provides the performance and dynamic behaviour you would expect from a sports car, and a luggage compartment with the dimensions of a prestigious station wagon, but also the versatility necessary for today’s lifestyle.
Italian styling for a prestigious station wagon
The new car is good-looking, strong, expressive and modern. Its beauty is expressed in the seduction of exciting all-Italian styling. Its strength lies in its technology and temperament, a traditional heritage of Alfa Romeo cars. Its expressiveness is the result of the vast range of engines, body-colours, outfits and options. And its modernity comes from a reinterpretation of traditional Alfa Romeo values from the viewpoint of modern lifestyles. The Alfa 159 Sportwagon combines these winning features with a luggage compartment that is a ‘designed space’ that meets a wide variety of requirements, whether it is used for business or for leisure time. And it never compromises where sportiness and performance are concerned.
The Italian styling of the Alfa 159 Sportwagon is developed around a single flowing line that runs without hesitation from nose to tail. A continuous pencil stroke which makes the car sporty and agile, but above all does not reveal where the original saloon ends and the ‘extra volume’ typical of the station wagon begins. This is the true strong point of the new model, which becomes all the more captivating where most station wagons reveal their main limitations. It is also the key to understanding the soul and character of the new model, on which a great deal of work was done to incorporate the extra volume into the lines of the station wagon. So it is not a car with an extra ‘box’ for loading, but a car with temperament, that adapts its interior roominess to different needs, thanks to its flexibility that allows it to be modified and divided in various ways.
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). The boot of the 159 Sportwagon was designed precisely and rationally with geometries that waste no space. The sides of the loading volume were designed with boxed elements, and then covered with elements of different thicknesses, calculated so that they do not affect the insulating and sound-deadening properties, as they create more load capacity. This operation has produced a loading volume of 445 litres, plus various oddment compartments created by the intelligent use of space, for example under the brackets for the curtain that separates off the rear, and two closing compartments at the sides complete with nets. On request the luggage compartment can be fitted with containment nets anchored on the loading floor, the sill or behind the rear seats to prevent the load from shifting suddenly.
The luggage compartment on the Alfa 159 Sportwagon is clearly not the traditional place where you load things haphazardly, but a functional space in which items can be carried correctly, without being flung around, consistent with the spirit of a station wagon with a sporty temperament.
From the side, the line of the 159 Sportwagon is attractive and full of character, with grooving that lightens and projects the entire car thanks to elegant light and shade effects, and it underlines one of the central features of Alfa Romeo sportiness: the compactness of the passenger compartment in the body of the car. This has been achieved by a number of significant, targeted stylistic features, such as the ‘accelerated’ curve of the roof which recalls the sleek lines of a short-tailed coupé. But also the design of the rear pillar which optically thrusts the passenger compartment forward, with the ‘elbow’ pressing on the wheel axis – a clear sign of power and sportiness. Another stylistic device is the way the front pillar has been set back, helping to shift the weight of the passenger compartment to the rear wheel, accentuating the car’s compact look.
On request, the car can be fitted with aluminium rooftop bars that underline the car’s status as a station wagon, while they highlight its stylistic elegance.
The front is unchanged, dominated by the same distinctive features as the saloon, with the major harmonious relationships that always lie behind the elegance and sportiness of Alfa Romeo cars. For example, the proportion between the long bonnet and the compact passenger compartment makes the car more prestigious, whereas it is the relationship between the glazing and the sides, which also enhances the compactness of the passenger compartment thanks to the position of the pillars, that makes it sportier.
The styling of the 159 Sportwagon is an original interpretation of the theme of ‘compact sportiness and elegance’, combined with excellent interior roominess and loading capacity, and it blends features typical of Alfa and characteristics borrowed from the saloon, in a stylistic whole that is peculiar to the Sportwagon.
Created ‘for and around’ man
The Alfa 159 Sportwagon 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. An excellent driving position was defined for the new model (precise ratios between the pedals, the seat, the steering wheel and the gearbox) and around this an environment that is distinctive, and in many ways innovative for Alfa Romeo, was evolved. The elements of comfort, greater harmony of the spaces, and the attention to detail mean that when you get into the car, you immediately perceive a higher level of quality. Without considering the exclusive equipment incorporated in the Alfa 159 Sportwagon to increase travelling comfort.
The sense of well-being does not dissolve but is actually increased when the engine is started and the car moves off. The level of acoustic comfort on the Alfa 159 Sportwagon is a significant improvement on the Alfa 156, thanks in particular to the excellent torsional rigidity of the bodyshell, designed to prevent creaking; changes to the soundproofing elements include the interior carpeting which includes a thick layer of sound-absorbing foam, and finally, the thick glazing of the front door windows (now 5 mm).
Roominess, storage compartments and boot
The car’s generous exterior measurements allowed the volumes to be distributed optimally, making the car extremely roomy. Take the overall longitudinal roominess: even when a person 188 cm tall is sitting on the front seat, there is still plenty of room for a passenger 178 cm tall on the rear seat.
There are numerous convenient, practical storage areas for small and large items on the Alfa 159 Sportwagon. They include a large glove compartment in the lower part of the facia in front of the passenger; a storage compartment and insulated box in the armrest between the two front seats, a storage compartment in the pull-out central rear armrest, a ceiling-high spectacles holder and 2 compartments under the rear shelf brackets. The actual luggage compartment of the Alfa 159 Sportwagon is 445 litres. And the rear seats can fold down separately 40-60%.
The luggage compartment will be appreciated for its regular shape: a great deal of work went into the design to optimise the loading area without penalising the geometry of the rear suspension, allowing the driver to exploit the interior space and increase versatility. The contents of the luggage compartment are protected from prying eyes by a sliding cover, level with the side windows. The boot is illuminated by three inside lights and also offers a 12V socket.
Comfort of the facia and controls
The driver of the Alfa 159 Sportwagon is immediately aware of the excellent layout of the instruments, the easy handling and convenience of the controls, which are all turned towards him and grouped by function. The driver’s position is built around the ‘cockpit’, where all the various driving controls are concentrated. The controls for the climate system, radio and navigator, the gear lever and the ignition button are all on the centre console. The circular analogue speedometer and rev counter are linked by a high resolution reconfigurable digital display, and perfect illumination guarantees clear, easy reading of all the instrumentation, particularly at night. And finally, hand position and grip are perfect on the three-spoke steering wheel, even when negotiating difficult situations.
The Alfa 159 Sportwagon features an innovative ignition system comprising an electronic key with three buttons, an electronic key reader on the facia, a starter button next to the electronic key reader, and an electric steering wheel lock on the steering column, where it is inoffensive in a collision. To turn the control panel on and start the engine, the key must be inserted in the reader on the facia, after which, for security reasons, the button has to be pushed together with the clutch and/or brake pedal.
Front and rear seat comfort
The seats on the new 159 Sportwagon are larger and more comfortable than those on the 156 Sportwagon, guaranteeing superb comfort and safety. To enhance comfort even more, and in particular to absorb vibration, an efficient spring system has been incorporated in the front seat cushion, while a modern lumbar support system in the squab supports the back better. Nor must we forget that the front seats are padded with foam that adapts to the occupant’s shape. The following adjustments are possible on the front seats: height, with a vertical excursion of 5 cm, reach, squab rake by a knob that provides continuous adjustment, tilting, seat cushion horizontal inclination, and lumbar support.
Electric front seats are available on request (the driver’s seat has three memories to personalise the configuration), and the head-restraints are also height-adjustable.
The standard rear seats have a 40/60 split squab that folds down onto the seat. Isofix attachments for one or two child seats are provided on the rear seats, and 3 head-restraints are fitted as standard.
The climate inside the car is a major factor of comfort on the road, and it is also important for preventive safety, because the temperature, humidity and ventilation affect the driver’s well-being and therefore his attention level. And it is the heating and ventilation system that demists the windscreen and side windows. This is why the Alfa 159 Sportwagon offers a choice of three climate systems: automatic dual-zone, automatic tri-zone and manual.
The dual-zone and tri-zone systems both feature automatic control of the temperature, airflow, air distribution, compressor engagement and recirculation. On the 159 Sportwagon, both systems incorporate an ‘equivalent temperature’ climate control strategy. A number of sensors register the indoor and outdoor temperature and evaluate the sensation of thermal well-being perceived by the passenger, i.e. the energy exchange between the human body and the passenger compartment, which is affected by the humidity, the temperature and the flow of treated air.
Another sensor, positioned centrally at the base of the windscreen, measures the solar radiation in the vehicle and the angle at which the rays hit the passenger compartment. It can then inform the climate system to ensure that the sun’s rays do not cause the interior temperature to climb too high.
Both climate systems can provide two different temperatures and airflows simultaneously: one on the right of the passenger compartment, and another on the left. In the case of the tri-zone system, even rear seat passengers can adjust their air temperature and flow independently.
In addition to the standard sensors that measure outdoor and indoor temperatures, the Alfa 159 Sportwagon also offers an AQS Air Quality Sensor that verifies air quality. It means that passengers on the new model will always breathe clean air, even in town traffic, tailbacks and tunnels. This device controls the recirculation function, which is triggered automatically to block the input of outdoor air into the car in areas where the smog level is high.
The hands-free voice recognition system
Developed jointly by Fiat Auto and Microsoft, the system, which is based on Windows Mobile technology, changes the communications, information and entertainment models in the car, improving the comfort and quality of the time spent on board.
The device is extremely simple to use, and allows you to receive/make telephone calls and to listen to music simply and safely as you drive. And thanks to Bluetooth technology, you can also communicate with the outside world from the car using your own personal mobile phone or HDA.
The system on offer will be supplemented in future with more evolved devices giving access to the many novelties that technological progress has in store for the coming years: from a complete multimedia system to satellite navigation. In addition to which there is a whole range of services that will make all your journeys more comfortable, safer and easier.
How it works
The device offered on the Alfa 159 Sportwagon incorporates a sophisticated hands-free system with voice recognition that enhances driving safety and respects the law because the driver can use the system without taking his hands off the wheel. The system allows drivers with a Bluetooth mobile phone to use the telephone even if it is in a jacket or a bag, automatically lowering the radio volume (when this is on) and routing the interlocutor’s voice through the stereo speakers. The system is also extremely compatible with all cell phones currently on the market and can be updated to comply with new standards and future telephones.
The hands-free function on the 159 Sportwagon is built into the car and the control keys are positioned on the steering wheel for immediate, safe access to the system; the driver can find a number in his phone book by scrolling the control panel display, or ‘mute’ the call for confidentiality.
One interesting feature is the fact that the mobile phone only has to be registered with the system once. It is also possible to transfer one’s personal phone book to the car, automatically updating it every time the system recognises a cell phone. Privacy is guaranteed because access is only granted to the phone book if the telephone registered with the system is in the car.
The number or name of the caller is shown on the display if it is in the phone book and the number can be called ‘vocally’ by dictating the numbers or pronouncing the name if it has been memorised.
The evolved voice recognition process means that the voice does not have to be ‘learned’, and the device is able to memorise up to 5 cell phones at the same time, allowing immediate use of the hands-free system by several users of the same car; and programming can obviously be modified whenever it is necessary. And finally, the hands-free system with voice recognition can also reproduce a ‘personal’ call tone using the radio speakers.
These are the features of the hands-free system with voice recognition, but the innovative Alfa 159 Sportwagon offers more: it allows the motorist to listen to his favourite music when it is recorded on a mobile phone, one of the new smart phones, on an MP3 player or on a USB pen drive. This is made possible by a USB port positioned in the glove compartment, to which any digital device with a similar connection can be connected, and musical audio files (MP3, WMA and WAV) can be reproduced directly through the stereo system. And because all the information is visible on the instrument panel display, the client can scroll through the system archive (divided by type, album, artist, etc.) either vocally or using the steering wheel controls, and select the piece he wants to listen to using the same controls.
Bose Sound System
The Bose Sound System, developed for Alfa Romeo by the American company that leads the acoustic Hi-Fi market, guarantees exceptional listening quality for all passengers in all travelling conditions. The Hi-Fi system has a power output of 570 Watts, an acoustic system with ten speakers and a subwoofer with a 6-channel digital amplifier (200 Watts) built into the luggage compartment, which reproduces the lowest frequencies.
The Bose Sound System produces the emotion of a live concert. Reproduction is realistic, with crystal clear high notes and full, rich low notes, and it refuses unnatural timbres that may seem attractive at first, but tend to tire the listener in the long run. The merit goes to the new arrangement of the tweeters, on the facia with a central diffuser. The latter lets the sound envelop all the occupants, giving the sensation that it is propagated into a much vaster environment, because the audio system was designed specifically for the passenger compartment, to guarantee perfect harmony between the technical characteristics of each one.
To achieve this result, the Bose engineers carefully selected the components of the stereo system, establishing the best position for the diffusers in relation to the listeners, helped by advanced design software.
A built-in signal processor automatically adjusts the bass notes so that they are perfect at any volume. This device is more sophisticated than a conventional volume control, and guarantees natural, top quality sound at all times. An active equalisation circuit automatically guarantees excellent electronic balance of all frequencies, great balance and clear tones over the entire audio range. Which means being able to enjoy impeccable musical reproduction in all driving conditions.
The clarity of the sound is also an effect of the active compressor circuits, thanks to which there is never any distortion, even at high volume. And it is the interaction between all these sophisticated components that produces the extraordinary sound effects that have been made famous by Bose all over the world.
Rain, dusk and parking sensors and built-in anti-theft protection
The equipment on the new model includes a number of significant technological devices that enhance life on board. For example, the rain sensor, which automatically activates the windscreen wipers at the first drops of rain; the dusk sensor which turns the headlights on when the car enters a tunnel; and the front and rear sensors that make parking easier, informing the driver with acoustic and graphic warnings (on the display) about the distance between the car and any obstacle. And finally, the Alfa 159 Sportwagon includes a sophisticated ‘built-in protection system’ that comprises the volumetric, anti-lift, anti-break-in, anti-theft Safe Lock device. It can mechanically disconnect the lock and the inside and outside handles of the doors, making it impossible to open them from inside, even if the window is broken.
The new Alfa 159 Sportwagon states that it is an Alfa through and through, by guaranteeing control and entertaining driving that admit no compromise. Travelling comfort and dynamic behaviour have always been hallmarks of Alfa Romeo cars, and they become real strengths on this model. To start with, the Alfa 159 Sportwagon has a very interesting suspension layout, the fruit of a new design that set extremely high standards of excellence: it has ‘high’ double wishbones at the front, and a multilink system at the rear. This means a greater capacity to absorb road roughness, more linearity and precision in response to the steering (the most direct of the standard saloons, with a small turning circle), superb roadholding, maximum stability in high speed manoeuvres and the agility of a true Alfa Romeo on narrow mixed routes. The solutions adopted and the advantages perceived immediately by the motorist are described in detail below.
Front suspension and steering
The new high wishbone layout adopted on the front suspension is the ideal solution to guarantee precise control of wheel movement, with a clearly defined steering axis. The architecture was borrowed from racing and endows the car with outstanding dynamic performance, and extremely sensitive, pinpoint steering. The high double wishbone was already used on the 156 and has been further improved on the new Alfa 159 Sportwagon.
First of all, the steering axis was brought closer to the centre of the wheel, increasing the Ackerman level (to increase parallel wheel movement when steering) for better response when cornering, thanks to the steering which is the most direct in its category. The steering of the new Alfa 159 Sportwagon has an excellent ratio (12.7° steer for every degree of wheel steer), and a complete turnaround with 2 ¼ turns of the wheel, which translates into a more direct response for the driver, more responsive steering and better stability control.
What is more, painstaking analysis of the matching of the steering geometry and the wheelarch volume, made it possible to achieve high steering angles even with the largest tyres, and this significantly improved the turning circle between kerbs (11.1 metres).
Great attention was paid to the new wheel upright where it connects to the levers, exploiting the available space inside the rims in full, and this has significant advantages in terms of lateral rigidity; the size of the coaxial damper spring unit with a bi-tube damper has been increased to improve its capacity to absorb road roughness; the aluminium lower wishbone combines excellent structural characteristics and a much lower weight; the upper aluminium arm fits a pair of dry friction sliding bushes, a solution chosen because it is stronger and more reliable, and guarantees a more progressive steering action. And finally, the suspension is connected to the chassis by a closed geometry frame which is stiffer than the previous solution which had a simple crossbeam.
The new Multilink rear suspension allows wheel movement to be controlled in a sophisticated manner, reaching the best possible balance in terms of performance. The system with three levers and a transverse blade highlights the performance of the various components subject to a longitudinal load, to improve the filtering of roughness and under a lateral load, to achieve faster responses, enhanced stability and extreme grip.
The rear suspension of the Alfa 159 now features:
- A higher anchorage point of the longitudinal link, which is now positioned higher than the centre of the wheel, allowing the suspension to perform a longer, more flexible stroke, with an optimal response when negotiating an obstacle.
- The aluminium upright, fitted with a third generation, extremely rigid hub, supports the connection bushes for the camber lever and the longitudinal link.
- The bi-tube spring-damper unit is larger than other conventional solutions, this achieves a better compromise between handling and comfort.
- The camber link, which allows the static camber to be adjusted and produces a geometry capable of guaranteeing a good camber recovery with wheel shake to ensure that the wheel rests perfectly on the road and wear is thus uniform, even when the car is pushed to the limit.
- The rear hydraulic bush guarantees excellent filtering of roughness, and allows the wheel to retract slightly when negotiating an obstacle.
- A high yield steel crossbeam isolated from the bodyshell by four elastic bushes that dampen high frequency vibration.
The Alfa Romeo Q4 four-wheel drive system
The new Alfa 159 Sportwagon proposes an evolution of the permanent 4x4 system with three differentials (with a Torsen C self-locking unit at the centre) already adopted on the Crosswagon Q4. The heart of this project is the ‘Alfa Romeo Q4 four-wheel drive’ system, which splits torque constantly and dynamically between the four wheels, reaching the highest levels of active safety and sportiness. The Torsen C self-locking differential sends drive torque 57% to the rear wheels and 43% to the front. The system also guarantees excellent traction in all grip conditions by automatically checking any slipping.
The torque split between the front and rear axles is modulated constantly by the Torsen C central differential on the basis of grip. This feature harnesses sportiness to enhance active safety. Modulation is mechanical, continuous and gradual, to enhance the perception of optimal, enjoyable, easy driving. There are no gaps in torque delivery. Where grip is concerned, the behaviour adapts gradually and smoothly to changing road conditions. This ‘mechanical’ control is backed up by electronic stability control, which boosts performance and safety margins, in line with the Alfa Romeo philosophy. The four-wheel drive car is the state of the art in technical terms and offers important advantages.
- Q4 permanent four-wheel drive with a Torsen C self-locking differential makes for better roadholding, entertainment and smooth responses. Other technological archetypes with electronically controlled joints do not achieve the optimal balance between understeer and oversteer or the smoothness that are innate in the Alfa 159, and translate into superb active safety.
- The torque split in favour of the rear axle makes driving even more entertaining, because it makes the car even easier to handle, without detracting in any way from stability during sudden lane changes on the motorway, or other emergency manoeuvres.
- The possibility of travelling safely when grip is poor without having to use electronics to split torque, enhancing the enjoyment of driving.
- We could say that the Alfa 159 Sportwagon Q4 interprets four-wheel drive from the Alfa Romeo point of view: it is basically a ‘mechanical’ system enhanced by cutting edge electronic technology to guarantee maximum comfort and entertainment, combined with superb performance and absolute safety.
Sophisticated technology for total control
The Alfa 159 Sportwagon adopts the most sophisticated electronic systems to control the car’s dynamic behaviour, and to raise the dynamic limits even higher, so that they increase safety but are not intrusive for the driver. The intervention of these devices was studied in simulations and exhausting track tests to ensure that the car is always entertaining to drive. The lavish safety equipment is described below.
ABS complete with EBD
The Alfa 159 Sportwagon features an excellent braking system backed up by the BOSCH 5.7 ABS anti-lock braking device, one of the most advanced on the market. It has four active sensors and a hydraulic control unit with 12 solenoids. The ABS system incorporates Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), which distributes the braking effort to the four wheels so that it prevents them from locking, maintaining full control of the car in all conditions. The system also adapts to the grip conditions of the wheels themselves and the efficiency of the brake pads, thus preventing the latter from overheating.
VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control)
VDC is Alfa Romeo’s interpretation of ESP (Electronic Stability Program), the system that intervenes when conditions are close to the limit and the car’s stability is at risk, to help the driver to control the car. VDC is a sporty device, as you would expect of an Alfa on which roadholding is excellent, and lets the driver enjoy total control of the vehicle as long as conditions are normal, only cutting in just before the situation becomes critical. The VDC system is always engaged.
On the other hand, MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung) cuts in if the driver changes down suddenly in poor grip conditions, giving torque back to the engine to prevent skidding due to wheel lock. To do this, VDC constantly monitors tyre grip on the road, both longitudinally and laterally, and if it detects a tendency to skid, the system intervenes to recover direction and stability. Sensors measure the rotation of the car around its vertical axis (yaw speed), the lateral acceleration and the steering lock set by the driver (which indicates his chosen direction). It compares these data with the parameters elaborated by an electronic control unit and uses a complex mathematical model to establish whether the car is taking a corner within the grip limits, or if it is about to skid at the front or the rear (understeer or oversteer).
To recover the correct trajectory, the system generates a yaw contrary to the one that is causing the instability, braking the relevant wheel (inside or outside) individually and reducing the engine power (by adjusting the throttle valve). This is the peculiar feature of the device developed by the Alfa Romeo engineers. The brake adjustments are modulated so that they are as smooth as possible (and will not disturb the driver) and the reduction in engine power is also limited, to guarantee excellent performance at all times and superbly enjoyable driving.
VDC performs this complex task by communicating constantly not only with the brake sensors and the engine control unit, but also with:
- the ‘Body computer’ which constantly exchanges information with the ABS system, and the control units of the engine and automatic transmission;
- the electronic throttle valve (which in turn dialogues with the ABS system);
- the instrument panel (active telltales);
- the steering wheel and steering column (via the steering sensor);
- the gyroscopic sensor installed on the cabin floor to record yaw and lateral acceleration.
ASR (Anti Slip Regulation)
ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) is an integral part of the VDC system, optimising traction at all speeds, assisted by the brakes and the engine control.
The device monitors the wheel speed calculated by the ABS sensors to establish the amount of slip and triggers two different control systems to recover grip. When an excessive demand for power causes both drive wheels to slip (for example, aquaplaning or accelerating on an uneven, snow-covered or icy road surface), the system reduces engine torque by decreasing the throttle valve aperture and thus the airflow. If, on the other hand, only one wheel slips (for example the wheel on the inside of the bend, after acceleration or a dynamic change in the load), this wheel is automatically braked without the driver having to touch the brake pedal. The effect is similar to that of a self-locking differential. This gets the Alfa 159 out of any difficulties on surfaces where grip is poor.
ASR is engaged automatically every time the engine is started, but can be excluded by a pushbutton on the central console. ASR must be excluded when snow chains are fitted because in this case, in order to transmit torque to the ground, the wheel needs to be able to ‘accumulate’ the snow, with small slips that the ASR tends to avoid.
HBA and Hill-holder
The safety equipment on the Alfa 159 is completed by the HBA system, the hydraulic electronic hydraulic braking assistant which automatically increases the pressure in the braking circuit during emergency braking. And by the Hill-holder system, which maintains the braking pressure for a few moments after the driver removes his foot from the pedal, to simplify hill starts and prevent the car from slipping backwards.
Unrivalled passive safety
The Alfa 159 Sportwagon represents the state of the art where passive safety is concerned, thanks to the new chassis and the other sophisticated devices that equip the model. Plus the excellent braking system, Xenon headlights and generous tyres which guarantee the highest levels of active and preventive safety. The Alfa 159 Sportwagon belongs to the same family as the model that was recently awarded the prestigious 5-star Euro NCAP rating.
A new chassis for exceptional torsional rigidity
The chassis of the Alfa 159 Sportwagon is of a new generation, which combines the latest European expertise in the fields of safety, rigidity, innovative materials and quality. The new ‘premium’ floorpan is built with high performance materials, multiply sheet metal and laser welding. From the viewpoint of the architecture, the bodyshell also benefits from numerous measures such as the use of boxed elements that are rigidly connected 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 bodyshell’s excellent torsional rigidity, the best in this segment (135,000 daNm/rad), and an equally outstanding value for flexural rigidity: 1310 daN/mm.
This is an excellent result, and it is essential for both safety and comfort; it was achieved thanks to numerous measures that ensure that the passenger compartment of the new model is a real survival cell. It is no coincidence that the Alfa 159 Sportwagon has passed the tests set by the strictest criteria of European and U.S. standards.
Airbags and new restraint systems
The Alfa 159 Sportwagon features innovative restraint systems (pretensioners on the clasp and decreasing load limiters on the seat-belts) and front seats with an ‘anti-whiplash’ device which brings the head-restraint nearer to the occupant’s neck in the event of rear impact. But the new model really stands out for its array of airbags: all versions of the Alfa 159 Sportwagon are available with up to eight airbags (seven are always standard equipment). First of all, two new devices designed to protect the driver’s knees (and those of the passenger on request), by preventing any contact with the facia, guaranteeing the highest safety levels.
Added to this are two dual stage front airbags, for the driver (with a capacity of 60 litres) and the passenger (120 litres). They are controlled by an electronic control unit on the tunnel, which assesses the intensity of the impact by sensors calibrated in the laboratory by a series of crash tests. The system incorporates a diagnostic system that verifies the components electronically, and these are tested by a computer that constantly monitors their operation. The airbags are not activated by low intensity accidents (such as a rear bump or one caused by a parking manoeuvre) or stress not caused by a collision (e.g. a pothole taken at speed). The front passenger bag can be deactivated manually by a switch at one end of the facia using the ignition key, to allow a child seat to be mounted facing backwards (the pretensioner remains active).
To protect the pelvis and chest of front seat passengers in a side-on collision, the Alfa 159 Sportwagon provides two sidebags built into the squab of the front seats, where they protect the occupants better, regardless of their stature, position or seat adjustment. The geometry also allows a 12-litre cushion to be used, smaller than would be necessary to guarantee the same level of protection if the airbag were mounted in the door. The sensors that activate these airbags are in the central pillars. In the event of an accident, they receive a signal of lateral acceleration and send it to the electronic control unit that controls the front airbags and seat-belt pretensioners. All the systems are managed together to ensure total, smooth protection of all occupants.
The Alfa 159 Sportwagon also fits curtain bags designed to inflate downwards along the windows, to protect occupants’ heads in a side-on collision. The curtain bags adopted on the new model are more protective than other systems because they inflate faster and are less invasive for passengers.
They open from the top down and their movement cannot cause secondary injury to the occupants’ arms. They also effectively protect the heads of both front and rear passengers because they cover the whole windows and guarantee protection even if the car overturns. The two bags (one for the left and one for the right) are positioned underneath the roof longitudinals, folded into a closed compartment. At the appropriate moment, the cover folds, allowing the bags to inflate and descend.
The new model also features a mechanism that releases the pedals in a frontal impact, to protect the legs.
Excellent visibility by day and at night and in tunnels is an important aspect of preventive safety. On request, the Alfa 159 can be equipped with Xenon full and dipped beam headlights, which emit a brighter, whiter light, with excellent efficiency in all atmospheric conditions. In a gas discharge lamp, the filament of the conventional bulb is replaced by two electrodes a few millimetres apart, which generate an electro-voltaic discharge in an environment saturated with low pressure Xenon. These lamps provide three times the luminous intensity and lifespan of normal halogen lamps.
The power-assisted hydraulic braking system is the most competitive in its class and upholds the Alfa Romeo tradition in this field. It comprises two cross-over independent circuits, and is particularly effective, guaranteeing prompt, smooth braking combined with minimal stopping distances: 36 m to decelerate from 100 Km/h to 0. The most powerful versions mount 330 mm ventilated discs, and aluminium callipers with four pistons on the front wheels, and 292 mm ventilated discs with floating callipers on the rear wheels.
The Alfa 159 Sportwagon’s excellent behaviour on the road is also a result of the tyres which achieve the best balance between handling and comfort. To guarantee controlled slip on corners, combined with an excellent capacity to absorb obstacles, the Alfa Romeo engineers and suppliers have developed special larger tyres, up to 235/45 R 18.
Powerful, elastic engines that respect the environment
At its launch, the Alfa 159 Sportwagon is equipped with three petrol and three turbodiesel engines, all combined with new mechanical six-speed gearboxes, with short strokes, precise engagement and low loads. A 1.8 litre engine delivering 140 bhp will be available after the launch, while automatic transmissions and a Selespeed robotised gearbox will also be proposed on some versions, all with six speeds.
The 3.2 JTS (260 bhp), 2.2 JTS (185 bhp) and 1.9 JTS (160 bhp) were developed to respect the brief from the Alfa Romeo engineers and represent the brand’s interpretation of the direct injection petrol engine, which translates into enjoyable driving and high performance for the customer. The three engines adopt the direct injection JTS (Jet Thrust Stoichiometric) combustion system, which produces brilliant engine performance. The 3 engines deliver the quality one expects from Alfa Romeo, having been fine-tuned on the Balocco test track, while final assembly takes place in the Alfa plant in Pomigliano. All the JTS engines obviously meet Euro 4 limits. The Alfa 159 Sportwagon is also available with three Multijet turbodiesel engines, the 1.9 8v JTDm (120 bhp), 1.9 16v JTDm (150 bhp) and the new 2.4 20v JTDm (200 bhp), which guarantee excellent power and torque deliveries in all driving conditions, combined with low fuel consumption. They are all combined with 6-speed gearboxes (including the automatic transmission that will be available on the 150 bhp 1.9 JTDm after the launch), true jewels of automotive engineering that confirm Fiat Auto’s leadership in this field. When it developed the Multijet system, the Fiat Group set its stamp on the diesel engine market. The three Multijet engines of the Alfa 159 Sportwagon obviously respect Euro 4 limits, and incorporate a DPF (particulate trap) that eliminates fine dust in line with the limits currently envisaged for future Euro 5 legislation. It is a ‘for life’ system that does not need to be regenerated with additives, and will be eligible for tax incentives.
The new 260 bhp 3.2 JTS V6
The Alfa Romeo ‘cuore sportive’ really beats in the new V6 3.2 litre petrol engine, which delivers 260 bhp. It represents a significant departure from Alfa Romeo’s previous V6 engine, as well as its natural evolution. The new JTS engine is capable of a power delivery of 260 bhp (20 bhp or 8% more than the previous 3.2 V6 Q4); peak torque of 322 Nm at 4,500 rpm (+33 Nm, an increase of more than 11%); a specific power of 60 kW/l and specific torque of 100 Nm/l; a significant increase in torque at low speeds to improve the smooth delivery (approximately 30 Nm more than the previous 3.2 V6 engine, starting from 1500 rpm); maximum revs of 7,200 rpm; minimal maintenance (hydraulic tappets and timing gear with chain drive); low weight (aluminium cylinder head and crankcase); and Euro4 exhaust emissions limits. With this equipment, the Alfa 159 Sportwagon can reach a top speed of 237 km/h and accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.2 seconds.
Main technical features
The new 6-cylinder engine of the Alfa 159 Sportwagon continues the strategy begun with the 4-cylinder engines, and adopts the JTS (Jet Thrust Stoichiometric) direct injection system. This is an original Alfa Romeo concept that injects the fuel directly into the combustion chamber with a stoichiometric mixture optimised to enhance performance, but also guarantees low consumption and respect for the Euro4 emissions limits.
Numerous important components have been designed from scratch and are exclusive to the Alfa Romeo V6 engine. To start with, the cylinder head is aluminium and has 4 valves per cylinder, 2 camshafts per bank with the ‘Twin Phaser’ continuous variable valve timing (intake and exhaust) already adopted on Alfa Romeo 4-cylinder engines and now applied on a 6-cylinder engine for the first time. Variable valve timing allows the phase angle on both cams to be varied by 50°, maximising performance on the one hand, because the best phase can be chosen at all engine speeds, and reducing consumption and emissions with partial loads on the other.
At the same time it is possible to optimise the volumetric efficiency of the engine over the whole operating range, exploiting the degrees of freedom offered by variable valve timing: this means a very favourable torque curve, with 90% of peak torque available from 1800 rpm (290 Nm) and maintained over a broad range (from 1800 rpm to 6250 rpm). The valves are controlled by a roller finger system, with low mechanical dissipation, and hydraulic uptake of tappet play.
Another peculiar feature is the camshaft drive system which uses a primary chain that transmits the drive to the heads via two secondary chains. Tension is provided by automatic hydraulic tensioners which need no maintenance at all during the life of the engine.
The high pressure fuel pump of the direct injection system is mounted on the cylinder head, driven by a camshaft, maintaining the pressure of the injected fuel at 120 bar by a built-in pressure regulator.
The inlet ports and combustion chamber assembly are designed to optimise the air-fuel mixture, to achieve the correct turbulence of the inlet air, forming a homogeneous mixture, for stable, complete combustion that produces fewer pollutants. The four valves per cylinder with diameters of 33.4 mm on the inlet and 28.4 mm on the exhaust guarantee suitable permeability to enhance engine performance.
The volumes and port geometry of the aluminium inlet casing have also been adapted to the high air delivery of the high revs to enhance performance. The electronic throttle assembly with a 72 mm throttle valve is mounted on this casing. And finally, the compression ratio of 11.25:1 guarantees excellent engine performance even with regular 95 octane fuel.
Briefly, the main technical features that distinguish the new 3.2 V6 engine from the previous V6 engine are:
- twin overhead camshaft with low friction drive;
- direct petrol injection;
- double continuous variable valve timing on the inlet and exhaust;
- cylinder head in light aluminium alloy;
- hydraulic tappets with automatic play uptake;
- crankcase in light aluminium alloy;
- maintenance-free timing gear drive chain;
- Poly V automatic tensioner belt to drive the engine accessories;
- throttle valve with electronic drive-by-wire activation;
- single ignition coils;
- low specific consumption and emissions;
- 4 lambda probes to control emissions;
- double knock sensor to improve knock sensitivity and to optimise peak performance;
- high performance exhaust manifold with built-in pre-catalysts;
- minimum maintenance;
- Euro 4 emissions.
The 3.2 V6 Q4 engine features an exhaust system that envisages a first group of catalysing elements relatively close to the cylinder heads to reduce the emissions level at the start of operation. Two catalysts under the floorpan and four lambda probes complete the system, so that the engine respects Euro 4 limits without adopting special systems such as secondary air or electric heating.
Another feature of the 3.2 V6 Q4 engine is the direct injection system (the fuel is supplied directly to the combustion chamber) whose main advantage is that it improves evaporation and this increases the engine’s volumetric efficiency. As a result, the supply of air and petrol is both denser and colder, which allows the compression ratio to be increased to 11.25, even if Euro Super petrol is used, with an octane index of 95 RON; a high compression ratio is useful because it makes it possible to increase both the performance and the energy efficiency of the engine.
And ignition is provided by a single sparkplug per cylinder. Direct injection combined with 4-valve-per-cylinder geometry creates a mix that tends to be more concentrated at the centre of the combustion chamber. The ignition system envisages a single ignition coil per cylinder.
The 185 bhp 2.2 JTS and the 160 bhp 1.9 JTS
The 4-cylinder engines of the Alfa 159 Sportwagon are extremely light because they have aluminium cylinder heads and crankcases (they are approximately 20 kg lighter than the engines they replace). The timing gear control is particularly evolved, featuring a system of rocker arms and rollers, which significantly reduces dispersion due to friction in the cylinder head, and the ‘Twin Phaser’ continuous variable valve timing system on the intake and exhaust valves, which optimises power output, torque and consumption.
The 2.2 JTS delivers 136 kW (185 bhp) and peak torque of 230 Nm (23.4 kgm) at 4,500 rpm, taking the car to a top speed of 220 km/h and accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.0 seconds. Torque is also excellent on the 1.9 JTS (190 Nm – 19.4 kgm at 4,500 rpm), and 88% is already available at 2,000 rpm. And with a power delivery of 118 kW (160 bhp), the brilliant 1.9 JTS has a top speed of 210 km/h.
Main technical features
To start with, the Twin Phaser system adopts new cam ‘lobes’ which allow the phase angle to be varied by 50° on both axes; this makes it possible to improve performance on one hand because the best phase can be chosen at all engine speeds, and to reduce consumption and emissions with partial loads, by the so-called Miller cycle. This combustion system, which is based on the postponed opening and closing of the inlet and exhaust valves – extends the expansive phase (converting more heat into energy), guarantees internal EGR (by preventing the release of the last exhaust gases, full of unburned particles) and postpones the closure of the inlet valve (reducing pumping losses).
Another peculiar feature of the 2.2 and 1.9 JTS engines that equip the Alfa 159 Sportwagon is the camshaft drive system which uses a chain; unlike a conventional belt drive, this system has the advantage of not needing to be replaced during the lifespan of the engine.
And to guarantee the performance one expects of an Alfa Romeo, the timing diaphragm has also been reviewed, adopting larger profiles which have made it possible to achieve a maximum power output of 6500 rpm (the system is fine-tuned to operate at over 7,000 rpm, the maximum rev speed allowed by the electronic speed limiter).
That is not all. To achieve the best volumetric efficiency, the maximum lift reaches 10.3 mm, while to enhance vibrational and acoustic comfort, the engine is equipped with two counter-rotating balancer shafts which virtually eliminate the second degree alternate forces that are typical of straight-4 engines. And the generous power delivery of the engine (80 bhp/l on the 2.2 JTS) made it necessary to adopt sodium-cooled exhaust valves.
The combustion chamber is shaped like a roof with four valves per cylinder: with a bore of 86 mm, the large inlet valves measure 35.3 mm and the exhaust valves 30.3 mm, guaranteeing excellent permeability to enhance engine performance. And, in spite of the stroke of 94.6 mm, in order to limit the overall height of the engine, the engineers have modified the piston height, achieving a compression value of just 28 mm, which is excellent in view of the high power delivery.
Where the exhaust, injection and ignition systems are concerned, the two 4-cylinder JTS engines both adopt the strategies and features illustrated for the new 3.2 V6 Q4 engine.
The 200 bhp 2.4 JTDm 20v
Derived from the familiar 2.4 JTD 20 valve ‘Common Rail’ engine, the new engine has 5 cylinders in line and is the most powerful engine in the JTD multivalve Multijet family, with a specific power of 84 bhp/litre.
The new engine offers numerous advantages. First of all, it is appreciably quieter during the heating stage, depending on the rev speed and ambient temperature. It is also extremely powerful (147 kW - 200 bhp at 4000 rpm), with a generous torque (400 Nm – 40.8 kgm at 2000 rpm).
There are four valves per cylinder, activated via hydraulic tappets and rocker arms by the twin overhead camshaft. Several changes were made to the new turbodiesel engine to boost performance and engine torque at low speeds, and to eliminate noise and vibration. For example, the ‘Common Rail’ system adopted on the 200 bhp 2.4 JTDm 20v envisages two new automatic control strategies for the setting and balance of the injected diesel fuel, to reduce noise and vibration.
The engine includes a number of new components, such as the cylinder head with small stem inlet valves to increase the quantity of inlet air, con rods of fractured steel and a new shape that increases mechanical resistance to the strong stress created by the increased power, an inlet manifold fitted with a throttle valve on one of the two inlet ports of the cylinders to control the turbulence of the air entering, a throttle valve to prevent shaking if the engine stalls, and an intercooler that is highly efficient thanks to its shape and position in the car, to guarantee the optimal temperature and density of the inlet air.
The electronic EGR exhaust gas cooling system has also been modified; the lubricating circuit has a new oil pump and an external air/oil heat exchanger to cool the oil, while the water pump on the cooling circuit is also new. In other words, a long list of improvements and changes that have produced a reliable, powerful engine which is sparing on fuel. Excellent results, achieved thanks to different engine control settings, an increase in the direct injection pressure to 1600 bar, and new turboblower settings.
The turboboost is provided by a turboblower with a variable geometry turbo that helps to improve the power delivery, but also generates very high torque even at low engine speeds. In fact, 90% of peak torque is available between 1750 and 3500 rpm. These figures translate into extremely enjoyable driving and brilliant performance: the Alfa 159 Sportwagon has a top speed of 226 km/h and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.6 seconds. Fuel consumption remains low (7 l/100 km in the mixed cycle).
A new 6-speed sequential automatic transmission will also be available soon with the new 200 bhp 2.4 JTDm 20v engine, a compact light device that incorporates the control unit in the gearbox, and was designed paying particular attention to consumption. On the one hand, the use of low friction oil boosts efficiency, while on the other, the sixth speed has been designed particularly for use on the motorway.
The 150 bhp and 120 bhp 1.9 JTDm
Both have 4 cylinders in line. The first is a 16-valve unit that delivers 150 bhp (110 kW) at 4,000 rpm and peak torque of 320 Nm (32.6 kgm) at 2,000 rpm; the second has 8 valves and delivers 120 bhp (88 kW) at 4,000 rpm and peak torque of 280 Nm (28.6 kgm) at 2,000 rpm. Changes were made to both engines to boost performance and engine torque at low speeds, and to reduce noise and vibration. For example, the Common Rail system includes two new strategies for automatically calibrating and balancing the diesel fuel injected, so as to lower noise and reduce vibration. That is not all. The special features of the Alfa Romeo engine include a variable geometry turboblower with a special rotor that increases torque at low speeds (for the 1.9 JTDm 16v), and an inlet manifold with a throttle valve on one of the two inlet ports of the cylinders to control inlet air turbulence (for the 1.9 JTDm 16v engine).
Equipped with the 150 bhp 1.9 JTDm engine, the Alfa 159 Sportwagon reaches a top speed of 208 km/h, and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.6 seconds (the values for the 120 bhp 1.9 JTDm are 190 km/h and 11.2 seconds respectively). In spite of this brilliant performance, fuel consumption is limited: 6.1 l/100 km on the mixed cycle (6 l/100 km for the 120 bhp 1.9 JTDm).
Both the 200 bhp 2.4 JTDm 20v and the 150 bhp 1.9 JTDm will soon be available with a 6-speed automatic gearbox and torque converter, fitted with a conventional control on the tunnel plus the option of sequential controls on the steering wheel.
Range options and equipment
The Alfa 159 Sportwagon range is proposed with 7 engines, 2 or 3 outfits (depending on the market), 12 body-colours and 5 interiors in 5 different shades (black, grey tone-on-tone, black and beige, beige tone-on-tone, black and grey) in a choice of flocked fabric, Alfatex, leather and fine-grain ‘pieno fiore’ leather by Frau. The range also offers all customers, even the most demanding, a choice between different features and devices, as well as a range of unique financial and rental formulae.
- Electric front and rear windows with automatic up-down function and simultaneous window opening device with anti-pinch function
- Height-adjustable rear centre head-restraint
- Front heel-high protective strip with stainless steel insert
- Front armrest with storage unit and insulated unit
- Padded armrest on rear seat with ski tunnel
- Electronic key with remote door and boot control
- Central locking
- Automatic climate system with dual-zone temperature and distribution control (with rear air vents, active carbon pollen filter and AQS)
- Automatic tri-zone climate system (with rear air vents, active carbon pollen filter and AQS)
- Steering wheel mounted radio/telephone controls
- Electric bonnet release from inside car
- 5 mm thick front side windows
- Cruise control
- Exclusion of engine logo on rear
- Luggage compartment lighting
- Diffused overhead lighting of front compartment
- Engine oil level gauge
- Inside centralised door opening/release switch
- Facia glove compartment light
- Front door puddle lights
- Softouch metalluro trims
- Aluminium trims
- Windscreen with reflecting infrared sheet, dark anti-glare strip and heated wiper area
- Front and rear ceiling lights with reading light
- Spectacles holder
- Luggage/ski rack attachment fitment
- Ignition button
- Heated front seats with 3 temperature levels
- Split, asymmetrically folding rear seat with storage unit in armrest (60/40)
- Front seats with manual adjustment (height, rake, lumber support for driver and passenger)
- Mechanical tilting of driver’s and passenger seat
- Seats with electrical adjustment and driver’s side memory, and heated electrical door mirrors with memory of driver’s side
- Leather seats
- Frau ‘Pieno Fiore’ leather seats
- Seats upholstered in Alfatex cloth
- Seats upholstered in flocked cloth
- Driver’s and passenger’s vanity mirror on sun visor with built-in lightin
- Onboard instruments with white light and multifunction display
- Onboard instruments with red light and multifunction display
- Interior carpeting in tufted velour
- Manual rear sun shade
- Trip Computer (two independent trip computers measuring range, consumption, average speed, distance covered)
- Home link
- Steering wheel with axial and height adjustment
- Leather steering wheel and knob
159 Sportwagon 1.9 JTS Turismo 5dr MRP: 40,985$
- 159 Sportwagon 2.2 JTS Lusso 5dr MRP: 45,640$
159 Sportwagon 2.2 JTS Turismo 5dr MRP: 42,920$
159 Sportwagon 3.2 V6 JTS Q4 Lusso 5dr MRP: 57,025$