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Alfa Romeo 159 1750 TBi Elegante road test report

1750 TBi Elegante

Alfa’s sleek and sassy 159 first went on sale in 2006 with a range of five different engines, but there’s now a new 2.0JTDM turbodiesel as well as this new 1750 TBi turbopetrol. Boasting improved power and efficiency over the outgoing 2.2JTS, the TBi is a real charmer.

Road Test Reports Says4 star rating
A front-facing image of the Alfa Romeo 159

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Performance Performance - 5 stars

Decent performance is a traditional Alfa strong point, and the 200bhp TBi competently maintains that reputation. For a 1,742cc 4-cyl, 6-speed manual saloon the claimed figures are impressive enough – 0-62mph in 7.7secs, 147mph max, but it’s the TBi motor’s 236lb/ft of torque and throttle response which are perhaps most impressive. Get on the gas at 80mph in 6th gear and there’s instant, strong acceleration up to 120mph and beyond. This sub 2-litre four goes like a 3-litre six, and it has the brakes to match, but my test car lacked puff and was prone to stalling while pulling away slowly from a standstill.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 5 stars

Hard-driving purists would argue that front wheel drive can never be a match for rear drive, but in the real world on public roads this front-drive 159 would please even the most hardcore enthusiast. Its steering is unusually quick and direct, especially for a 4-door saloon, while its grip is terrifically tenacious. And this isn’t just down to grippy tyres; it’s due to a torsionally rigid and well-balanced chassis coupled with finely tuned suspension that limits body roll while also providing a supple ride over all but the very worst of road surfaces.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 3 stars

Alfas aren’t perfect and never have been, but enthusiasts of the brand say that just adds to their charm. I know what they mean, but there’s little that’s charming about a twittering squeak from somewhere inside the front passenger door – a problem that surfaced, (and only on bumpy roads), toward the end of my near 1,500 mile roadtest. A trip to the dealers would doubtless have cured it, but it’s a blot on the 159’s otherwise spotless copybook. Alfa Romeo hasn’t featured in recent UK JD Power surveys, but encouragingly the brand tied with Mercedes for second spot in the German ’09 JD Power survey.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 5 stars

With the full five EuroNCAP stars for occupant protection (along with 4 stars for child occupant protection) the 159 acquits itself well. It’s equipped as standard with ABS combined with Electronic Brake Distribution and Hydraulic Brake Assistance while Vehicle Dynamic Control unit enhances cornering stability. VDC is augmented by ASR which limits wheelspin during acceleration, and MSR to modulate braking torque when changing down through the gears. There’s also a Hill Holder function to facilitate smooth hill starts as well as eight airbags, ISOFIX child seat mountings, a fire protection system and central locking with alarm and immobiliser.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 3 stars

Larger adults seated in the rear may feel a little cramped in terms of legroom, but there’s no such problem in the front with ample space in every direction along with comfortable, supportive seats and ample seat and wheel adjustment. (I drove 662 miles in one day, and 1,500 miles over four days and remained completely comfortable throughout.) Boot capacity is a respectable 405 litres and, although satnav and leather seats are optional on the Elegante model, comfort is enhanced by the standard Blue&Me Bluetooth phone system, a USB port for mp3 players (or other USB devices), climate control aircon, cruise control and more.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

It has to be said that £22,750 doesn’t seem extravagant for a near-150mph executive sports saloon. The TBi’s official combined mpg figure is 34.9, although on my high speed continental journey the trip computer recorded an average of 26.7mpg over 1,483 fast miles. Not record-breaking, but there’s always the 52.3mpg JTDM model… CO2 emissions are 189g/km, which equates to tax band J or £215 annual road tax while TBi service intervals are up from 18,000 to 21,000 miles along with Alfa’s 3-year, unlimited mileage warranty. But as Alfa owners generally let their hearts rule their heads these figures may not be that important, especially for a car this good to drive and this good looking.

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