In Brief Distinctive Styling & Roomy Interior Enhanced on-board wellbeing
Roadholding Equipment, Options & Colours Powerful, Flexible Engines
Unrivalled Passive Safety Personal Purchasing Formulae Group Contribution
High Resolution Images Technical Specifications  


An elegant car with a strong personality, yet one on the cutting edge in terms of equipment, power units and mechanicals. This was the brief given to the Alfa Romeo engineers and technicians.

To achieve it, the company deployed its best resources and ensured that maximum quality and reliability standards were applied throughout the product development and construction process. It also forged profitable co-operative relationships with its outside suppliers and some Fiat Companies including Magneti Marelli, Centro Ricerche Fiat and Elasis. This collaboration was responsible for many of the innovative solutions that make the Alfa 159 the new benchmark in its category.

Magneti Marelli

Magneti 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.

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 car manufacturing plants are involved in the industrial panelling, mechanical engineering and assembly operations.

Centro Ricerche Fiat

- Methodologies

  • The Quality Indices (IQ), which make it possible to link the vehicle's technical specifications to the customer's perception of them, and therefore to design a car around the motorist that is consistent with the brand values. In the case of the Alfa 159, for example, this means defining the qualities that determine "uncompromisingly entertaining driving".

  • Setting, deploying and achieving targets, which means starting from assigned "customer targets" and translating them into "technical design objectives" for the various systems on the vehicle (suspension, brakes, steering, engine, gearbox, etc.).

  • Optimisation of the multidiscipline structure, to achieve efficient structures for the project by maximising performance and minimising weight. Where the Alfa 159's Premium floorpan project is concerned, this resulted in the targeted, effective use of multiply sheet metal, high performance steel and laser welding.

  • Crash and biomechanical methodologies, which ensure that the passenger cells effectively protect the occupants and that the front of the car is compatible with vulnerable subjects (pedestrians, cyclists, etc.), respecting the demands of current and future legislation.

  • Computational fluid dynamics, which optimise external aerodynamics in order to lower consumption and aerodynamic noise, while respecting the car's distinctive styling, but also define interior comfort and well-being in terms of climate and air quality.

  • NVH (Noise-Vibration-Harshness) methods, to minimise noise and vibration creating a passenger compartment that is comfortable and quiet in all travelling conditions, reducing stress and enhancing well-being and alertness.

  • Vehicle handling methodologies, that guarantee an enjoyable, predictable drive in all speed, manoeuvring and grip conditions, through painstaking design of the suspension and controls (steering, brakes, etc.). The Alfa 159 achieves excellence in terms of roadholding and of the steering response.Physical and cognitive ergonomics, supported by Virtual Reality to correctly design the interior space and systems (seat, facia, etc.), the primary and secondary controls, the mobile parts and the communication interfaces, which focus on the interaction between the driver and the vehicle, at the design stage.Bench validation methodology of the Instrument Panel Node. This methodology generates test patterns that comprehensively verify the correct functioning of an instrumental panel node.

  • Analysis of the virtual key: electrical/electronic architecture (definition of the system and components) for the electrical steering lock and "smart key".

  • Alfa Romeo 159
    Alfa Romeo 159
    Alfa Romeo 159
    Alfa Romeo 159

    - Diesel engines

    The basic concept of the Multijet engines and their subsequent distinctive high performance (the 2.4 litre JTDM delivers 200 bhp, which corresponds to more than 80 bhp/litre) relies on innovative technologies and calculation methodologies that have made it possible to develop and to apply thermofluid dynamic simulation methods to the combustion process on the JTD Multijet engines; to introduce structural analysis of critical engine components to boost the specific power, improve reliability and optimise acoustic and vibrational comfort; to optimise the use of multiple injection (Multijet) to improve performance, emissions, consumption and acoustic comfort; and to apply engine control strategies both to optimise performance, and to manage the particulate abatement system by incorporating a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) designed to last "for life".

    - JTS engines

    The stoichiometric direct injection combustion systems developed for the new JTS engines for the Alfa 159, were developed by CRF. The features developed and optimised were the definition of the inlet manifolds and the type of injector jet that would optimise the air-petrol mix in the combustion chamber and guarantee outstanding performance; the definition of the piston surface geometry necessary for the double injection that results in a 70% reduction in HC emissions during warm-up and, if possible, allow it to function with stratified charge idling; definition of the compression ratio to maximise performance and reduce fuel consumption; and definition of the mechanics and functioning of the continuous double variable valve timing system adopted on the inlet and the exhaust, and optimisation of their management to enhance performance and fuel consumption. These experiments adopted CFD fluid dynamic analysis to design the inlet manifolds, and thermofluid dynamics to manage the variable valve timing. In view of the considerable increase in performance this produces, the most crucial engine components were verified and optimised using FEM thermo-structural and reliability analysis.


    - Control systems
    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. 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.

    Engine-gearbox-differential, Methodologies and Technologies
    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".

    Text & Photos: Alfa Romeo