159 Sportwagon 1750 TBi Elegante
the past, Alfa Romeos appealed
to those individuals who dared to be
different; and the eye-catching 159
Sportwagon, badged with an emotive
automotive Italian designer label
is no exception...
ALFA ROMEO HAS RESORTED TO 'SCAVENGING' to create its
latest 200bhp turbocharged petrol engine. Far from what it sounds like, 'scavenging'
is actually a high-tech solution that maximises torque at very low engine speeds.
The result, along with direct injection, turbocharging and dual variable valve
timing, is that the new lightweight '1750' (1,742cc) twin-overhead camshaft,
four-cylinder powerplant punches out 200bhp and a muscular 236lb ft of torque
from just 1,400rpm that's actually not much more than tickover speed.
With the 1750 TBi under its long bonnet, the 159 Sportwagon tested here is good
for 146mph, sprinting to the benchmark 62mph from standstill in 7.9 seconds.
CO2 emissions are 194g/km and routine servicing is now only required every 21,000
miles so you can spend more time enjoying the driving experience!
And enjoy it you certainly will. The new engine is refined and willing to work
as hard as you ask and, in true Italian fashion, it's eager to flirt with the
red line. Thanks to the 236lb ft of torque arriving so early in the rev-range,
in-gear acceleration is impressive in all of the gearbox's six ratios. At motorway
speeds the Sportwagon lopes along at a mechanically unfussed 3,000rpm. Officially
the 159 Sportwagon will return as much as 45.6mpg on the extra-urban cycle along
with 23.5 urban and 34mpg combined. Our week's test saw an overall average of
But you don't even have to press the electronic engine Start/Stop ignition button
to take pleasure in the Sportwagon. From behind the three-spoke, multi-function
leather-rimmed wheel, the cabin looks and feels sporting even at rest. The wraparound
dash is stylish, with deep cowls housing the big, bold speedometer and rev-counter
separated by a multi-function display. Three secondary gauges turbo boost,
engine coolant temperature and fuel are sunk into the darkened aluminium
centre stack significantly angled towards the pilot.
test car was fitted with the optional power front seats with three-stage heating
and leather upholstery (the Elegante normally has manually-adjusted seats with
height and tilt adjustment and luxury 'Alfatex' fabric upholstery). Combined
with the generous height and reach steering wheel adjustment and effective seat
bolstering, a spot-on driving position is a given and the shapely and supportive
seats proved to be as comfortable on long journeys as they were on short trips.
turbo boost, engine
coolant temperature and
fuel are sunk into the
centre stack significantly
angled towards the
equipment on the mid-range Elegante trim model includes dual-zone automatic
climate control, electric power-assisted steering, 'Follow-Me-Home' headlights,
Blue&Me (Bluetooth hands-free system with voice recognition and media player
with USB port in the glovebox), electronic Start/Stop button, one-touch electric
front and rear windows, 8-speaker radio/CD+MP3 player, on-board computer, Sports
leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio/'phone controls, Sports dials, front
fog lights, auto wipers and lights, cruise control, front armrest with temperature
controlled storage compartment, Alfatex upholstery, height/tilt-adjustable front
seats with lumbar support, auto-dimming rear view mirror (with deactivation
button), rear parking sensors, Alfa branded, red-painted aluminium brake callipers
and a set of smart multi-spoke design 17-inch alloy wheels.
Safety-wise the list is equally comprehensive with seven airbags (driver, passenger,
front-side, window and driver's knee), a fully-integrated Fire Prevention System
and Vehicle Dynamic Control (ABS + ASR + EBD + Brake Assistant) with Hill Holder.
Push the starter button to fire up the engine, snick the lever into first and
you'll soon discover that the 159 Sportwagon is dynamically capable of holding
its own in its class. While its body says 'estate', the 159 Sportwagon drives
as well as its rakish looks promise. It's a well-settled, easy to place car,
with nicely-weighted, accurate steering and the kind of responses that keen
drivers will appreciate.
However you treat her, the Sportwagon feels planted and stable with plenty of
grip both from the chassis and from the Pirelli P Zero Nero 235/40 19-inch tyres.
Pressed hard, the front end stays sharp and you need not hold back because the
chassis embraces the challenge of a testing road. Brakes vented discs
all round with substantial 4-piston callipers at the front are spot on.
ride is quite firm; enough to favour the handling. But even with the large 19-inch
alloy wheels fitted to out test car, the Sportwagon rode over the ever-worsening
British blacktop happily enough and potholes were taken without any crashing.
Refinement is notably good with road and wind noise well subdued, and the turbocharged
engine not at all intrusive even when used in anger.
ride is quite firm;
enough to favour
But even with the large
19-inch alloy wheels
fitted to out test car,
the Sportwagon rode
over the ever-worsening
won't want for space in the 159. Front seat passengers get plenty of leg and
head room along with well-placed inner and outer armrests. There's decent legroom
in the back, too, and four just-under six-footers can travel very agreeably.
Within the passenger compartment itself there are various storage areas including
a large glovebox and a temperature-controlled storage box within the front centre
However, if you're thinking about transporting large kitchen appliances then
buy yourself a Volvo estate. This Alfa doesn't do DIY her body's built
for sin, not to put things in. The elegantly styled Sportwagon's boot is better
suited to holding lifestyle luggage en route to Paris or Rome. That said, 445
litres of boot space isn't at all bad and it's accessed through a full-width,
high-opening, top-hinged tailgate. There's also a very sturdy, no-nonsense and
smoothly-working retractable luggage cover.
The split/folding rear seat is divided 60:40 and incorporates a small load-through
hatch. Fold down the rear seatbacks (the seat cushions are fixed) and you'll
be looking at a practical although not fully flat 1,235-litre
load bay. In addition there's a number of thoughtful and handy storage bins
in the boot area including two built-in lidded cubbies, a pair of hidden pockets
in the side panelling, a couple of small stretchy nets, two boot lights and
a 12v socket.
Alfa Romeos have always appealed to individuals and the 159 Sportwagon, badged
with an emotive automotive Italian designer label Giugiaro is
as eye-catching as any of them. Fronted by the instantly-recognisable Alfa shield,
the Sportwagon looks good from pretty much every angle and always attracts
a second glance. Perfect, in fact, for Alfa males and females. MotorBar
Alfa Romeo159 Sportwagon 1750 TBi Elegante | £24,590
Maximum speed: 146mph | 0-62mph: 7.9 seconds | Overall test MPG: 30.3mpg
Power: 200bhp | Torque: 236lb ft | CO2 194g/km