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Alfa Sportwagon joins 159 sedan

Alfa delivers its redesigned Sportwagon Down Under just a month after the 159 sedan

1 Aug 2006

ALFA Romeo has launched its all-new 159 Sportwagon just one month after its donor car, the redesigned 159 medium sedan, was released in Australia - priced from $3000 more.

Unlike its 156 Sportwagon predecessor, the load-lugging 159 is available with the same engines as its sedan counterpart, with two new direct-injection VVT petrol engines - a 136kW/230Nm 2.2-litre four-cylinder and a 191kW/322Nm 3.2-litre V6 - and a 147kW/400Nm 2.4-litre 20-valve five-cylinder JTD turbo-diesel all available from launch.

Critically, however, all three engines will be available only with a six-speed manual transmission until early 2007, when the JTS 2.2 will become available with Alfa's Selespeed automated manual transmission and both the JTD 2.4 and JTS 3.2 will be offered with Alfa's new Q-Tronic auto.

Despite the lack of an auto option, Alfa claims the 2.4-litre JTD diesel variant returns an official combined average fuel consumption figure of just 7.0L/100km (and a CO2 output of 179g/km) - the same as light hatches like Hyundai's Getz, the Kia Rio sedan, Mazda2 and Suzuki Swift.

The same engine also propels the 1630kg 159 cargo-hauler to 100km/h in a claimed 8.6 seconds and on to a claimed top speed of 226km/h. Meantime, the 1680kg AWD 3.2 JTS manual returns an average consumption figure of 11.6L/100km and CO2 emissions of 275g/km, but blasts to 100km/h in 7.2 seconds and to a top speed of 237km/h.

The base 1490kg 2.2 JTS offers claimed 0-100km/h acceleration in nine seconds, a top sped of 220km/h, average fuel consumption 9.5L/100km and CO2 emissions of 224g/km.

Pricing opens at around the same mark the 156 Sportwagon was launched at, with the 2.2 JTS manual opening the range at $52,990, the mid-spec 2.4 JTD manual costing $58,990 and the flagship (for now) 3.2 JTS Q4 all-wheel drive manual priced at $77,990.

All variants get full leather trim as standard, with metallic paint ($1600), a powered sunroof ($2250) and a pack containing powered front seats, a heated driver's seat with memory and heated/power folding mirrors ($2750 on 2.2 and 2.4 variants) the only options.

26 center imageRiding on a 105mm-longer wheelbase than the 156 Sportwagon (as well as being 225mm longer and 85mm wider), 159 Sportwagon is claimed to bring significant front and rear legroom increases - as well as interior headroom and ingress/egress gains - over its somewhat cramped but undeniably stylish forebear.

Biggest change from its sedan sibling is 445 litres of load space below a retractable rear luggage cover, accessed via a 60/40-split folding rear seat with integral armrest and ski-port. Flat-folding rear seats are claimed to provide 850 litres of storage space below the window line, and a total of 1235 litres. The 159 wagon's tailgate hinges from the within the roof, further increasing the cargo area's practicality.

Standard equipment levels for the front-drive 2.2 and 2.4 variants echo that of the sedan and include seven airbags, automatic dual-zone climate-control, cruise control, rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a multi-function display and trip computer, foglights, 17-inch alloy wheels and an RDS eight-speaker sound system with 10-CD stacker and steering wheel controls.

In addition, the AWD V6 adds 18-inch alloy wheels, Xenon headlights with washers, powered front seats with driver's memory, a Bose sound system and hands-free Bluetooth telephone connection with USB i-Pod compatibility.

Specific Sportwagon features comprise aluminium-finish roof rails, a cargo net, side compartments and an additional 12-volt power outlet.

Alfa claims 159 Sportwagon - which was also designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro in collaboration with Alfa Romeo Centro Stile in Milan - sets new class benchmarks for torsional rigidity. Based on an all-new platform shared with the 159 sedan and Brera coupe, the new Sportwagon has also achieved a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating.

As with the 159 sedan, the 3.2 JTS Sportwagon comes standard with Alfa Romeo's Q4 permanent four-wheel drive system, which employs front and rear differentials and a self-locking Torsen C centre unit that directs 57 per cent of torque to the rear wheels in normal conditions.

All variants feature the 159 sedan's upgraded double wishbone front and redesigned multi-link rear suspension units, while the 2.2 JTS features 305mm ventilated front and 278mm solid rear brake discs. Diesel and V6 versions offer 330mm ventilated discs with Brembo four-piston monobloc aluminium callipers at the front, and 292mm ventilated rear discs.

Steering is via a speed-sensitive power-assisted rack-and-pinion system that requires just 2.3 turns lock-to-lock, which Alfa claims makes it the most direct in its class. The turning circle is a widish 11.1 metres.

Apart from seven airbags, standard safety features include seatbelt pretensioners, an integrated Fire Prevention System, ABS anti-lock brakes, EBD electronic brake-force distribution, ASR traction control and VDC stability control. A Motor Speed Regulator (MSR) modulates braking torque during down-changes, while a Hill Holder function aids hill starts.

2006 Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon pricing:
2.2 JTS - $52,990
2.4 JTD - $58,990
3.2 JTS - $77,990
Metallic paint: $1600
Power/heated seats (2.2 and 2.4): $2750
Sunroof: $2250

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