02.07.2005 As the Alfa 159 gears up for production, we look forward towards the final launch plan and the packages available on the new mainstream Alfa Romeo model

As the Alfa 159 gears up for production, we look forward towards the final launch plan and the packages available on the new mainstream Alfa Romeo model. The Alfa 159 will be launched on the 3rd September in France, Italy, Germany and Spain. Other countries in Continental Europe (including The Netherlands and Belgium) will continue on the 7th October. December will see the car’s launch in the UK and Ireland.

By the end of this year Alfa Romeo plan to have produced 30,000 examples of the Alfa 159, and are gearing up for annual production of over 110,000 units. Alfa Romeo’s new CEO, Karl-Heinz Kalbfell is persistent in giving the Alfa Romeo brand a more solid financial stature. Having arrived at the beginning of this year, Kalbfell has briefly been in charge at Alfa Romeo, but it has already been forecast by analyst Phillipe Houchois of J.P. Morgan in London that Alfa will lessen their operating loss to 100 million euros this year against 180 million euros in 2004.

Kalbfell recently reconfirmed his determination during the Alfa 159 press launch in Munich last month that Alfa Romeo’s goal was to produce 300,000 units annually before the decade’s end. Alfa Romeo’s new marketing strategy includes reliability as an addition to good taste and optimal driving characteristics. It will be the first time ever that Alfa will offer a three year warranty plus a three year free maintenance package. This strategy aims to draw customers away from the three dominating German brands in the lower premium segment, notably Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Each one of these German rivals currently offer a two year warranty package only, and do not include free maintenance. The Alfa 159’s main competitors are the recently launched BMW 3-Series and the facelifted Audi A4, despite both of these rivals being smaller in size.

Alfa’s reliability assurance is a particularly interesting proposal, as Alfa Romeo estimate three years of maintenance as being worth 1,400 euros to the customer. Alfa’s warranty and maintenance incentive is similarly aimed at fleet buyers, which represent 40% of lower premium sales. Despite this, the lower premium market in Europe represents the most competitive of markets for new car sales. In order to keep interest in the Alfa 159 bouyant, Alfa Romeo plan to continue launching significant updates throughout its lifecycle. This strategy is intended to keep the production volume of the Alfa 159 stable at 110,000 units per annum.

The first move towards keeping interest in the Alfa 159 high will be the introduction of the 6-speed Ainsin automatic gearbox sourced from Japan. This gearbox option will be firstly made available on the 2.4 JTDM model in March 2006. It will follow on the 1.9 JTDM 16V, 1.9 JTS, 2.2 JTS and 3.2 JTS V6 in June.  An optional gear control on the steering wheel will be available.

Another addition in March 2006 will be an entry level model with a 130 bhp 1.8 MPI petrol engine. Undercutting German rivals in price whilst remaining on top in terms of style and reliability will remain a fundamental element in the Alfa 159’s sales success. This will certainly be a key role in the bolstering of Alfa Romeo’s image in emerging markets such as the Czech Republic. Alfa recently demonstrated their interest in this market by their presence at the Brno Motor Show earlier this year with the presentation of the 159 and Brera models.

Selespeed transmission will also be introduced early next year on the 2.2 JTS, and will be present on the GTA version of the 159 as standard. At present not much is known about the GTA, with the high performance model being clearly intended for a much later introduction date. The GTA will most likely be fitted with a twin turbo 3.2 V6 producing 405 bhp, coupled to integral transmission. A probable launch date for this model will be in October 2007.

Alongside reliability and a constant refreshment of the range, the Alfa 159 has been engineered with the most stringent of safety tests in mind. Its impressive body structure with a torsional rigidity of over 180.000 daNm/rad, places the Alfa 159 at the top of its class in this area. Furthermore, the availability of permanent four-wheel drive on the 2.4 JTDM and 3.2 JTS V6 versions will result in worthy competitors for Audi’s Quattro system, and BMW’s rear-wheel drive handling. A third 4x4 model will be introduced at a later date in the form of the 3.0 JTDM 6-cylinder diesel with 250 bhp. This particular model is scheduled with a 6-speed automatic transmission only.

Alfa 159 Sportwagon

Certain press claim that the new Sportwagon will arrive at dealerships before the year’s end. In any case, the car is scheduled for a launch at the Frankfurt IAA in September and undisguised prototypes have already been spotted. It is most likely that the car will arrive in European showrooms in January 2006.

click here for Alfa Romeo 159 3.2 V6 photo gallery
click here for Alfa Romeo 159 3.2 V6 photo gallery

click here for Alfa Romeo 159 3.2 V6 photo gallery
click here for Alfa Romeo 159 3.2 V6 photo gallery

The Alfa 159 Sportwagon aims to build on the concept of the previous 156 model by providing more practicality, room and power whilst also remaining elegant and sporty. As well as the obvious increase in interior space, the car’s carrying capacity will be substantially increased (around 10%). Unlike on the sedan, the Sportwagon will come standard with a folding 60/40 rear seat with skiholder and rear armrest. The Sportwagon will also be offered with a large sunroof, the option of black or polished aluminium roof racks and a handy Utility SW package.

Packages and trim levels

Three main trim levels will be available, which are the Basis, Medium and High. The Basis represents the entry-level specification for the two-wheel drive 1.8 MPI, 1.9 JTS and 1.9 JTD models. Despite being an entry level trim it includes manual mono-zone air-conditioning over the standard features which are available on all Alfa 159 models (see our Future Models section).

The Medium trim level is available on all versions, and from the 2.2 JTS upwards represents the standard entry level. The Medium level includes manual mono-zone air-conditioning, front fog lights, leather steering wheel and gear knob, radio CD and wider 215/55 tyres (despite still having steel wheels as standard).

The High trim level includes electric rear windows, front fog lights, bi-zone air-conditioning, audio and GSM controls in the steering wheel, leather steering wheel and gear knob, cruise control, radio CD, Alfatex upholstery, Visibility Pack 1 & 2 (rain sensor, electro chromatic interior mirror, defrosting sensor, odour sensor) and 16” alloy wheels with 215/55 tyres.

Alongside these trim levels, customers are also able to choose a variety of options depending on their availability within the trim level. Options include a rear entertainment kit, privacy glass, sun blinds, a cold country kit (with special oil in the power steering and higher power battery), passenger knee airbag, electric driver’s seat with memory, 60/40 folding rear seats with armrest and skiholder (standard on the Sportwagon), tri-zone air-conditioning, diverse paints (metallic, pastel and pearlescent), diverse leather seats, factory alarm, xenon headlights, automatic gear control on the steering wheel, foldable external mirrors (optional memory), tyre pressure sensor, roof racks in black or aluminium for the Sportwagon, VDC (only on 4-cylinder cars), big sunroof for the Sportwagon, normal sunroof, a range of alloy wheels from 16” with 215/55 tyres to 18” with 235/45 tyres, front heated seats, height adjustable passenger seat, front and rear parking sensors (rear parking sensors also as a separate option), rear central headrest, diverse audio options (including MP3, Bose speakers, a CD changer and even the elimination of the standard CD player), diverse spare tyre options (space-saving, normal steel wheel, alloy wheel - a tyre kit is standard), prewiring for phone kits, elimination of engine badges, Connect Nav, Home Link, tilting driver and passenger seats, reflective infrared windscreen with antidazzle band and heated zones, diesel engine PTC pre-heater and various Bluetooth, voice control and SAT/NAV options.

For the sporting Alfa Romeo driver, there are three sport packs to choose from. All of these are not available with the Basis trim level.

The most comprehensive sport offering is the “Pack TI”, which can be specified in one go, or the customer can choose elements from it. The equipment includes: general sport tuning, body skirts, aluminium sill plates, light instrument graphics with white backlighting, two leather seat options, radio controls on the steering wheel, brushed aluminium inserts on the dashboard, doorpanels and glovebox, TI badging and 18” TI sport alloy wheels.

The second sport package is the “External Pack Sport”, which includes general sport tuning, body skirts and 17” sport alloy wheels. The third and final sport package is for the interior only, and includes the interior options found in the TI pack, bar the specific TI badging.

A luxury package is also available, and includes a leather dashboard in three colours. This particular option is not available on the Basis trim level, but leather seats are. A simple aluminium pack gives the option of radio controls on the steering wheel and brushed aluminium inserts from the TI pack. Visibility packs, as described in the High trim levels, follow.

Utility packages (separate packs for the sedan and SW) are also available, and include a boot carpet cover, various nets for keeping luggage stable and a handy net on the transmission tunnel next the passenger seat.

Alfa Romeo’s future has never seemed brighter

In short, the Alfa 159 promises to be a successful car for Alfa Romeo, and will play a key factor in Fiat’s revival in the following years. The international press has already been won over by the Alfa 159, stating that it is “the best Alfa ever” and “finally a reason not to buy a German brand.” The public reaction has also been particularly strong, and with immense interest building up for the European dealer launch in autumn Alfa Romeo’s future has never seemed brighter.


Related articles

Alfa Romeo presented their brand-new Alfa 159 sports luxury sedan to the motoring press, at a ‘ride and drive’ event this week at Schloss Nymphenburg in Munich, Germany

© 2005 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed