Alfa's Billion Euro Baby; FIRST DRIVE Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon an Estate of the Art from Italian Giant
Byline: By Robin Roberts
JUST like its Italian stable-mate. Fiat, the House of Alfa Romeo is currently on something of a roll.
Already this year the Turin car maker has introduced the 159 saloon as replacement for the 156 and taken the wraps off the exciting looks of the Brera Coupe plus, with the eagerly awaited soft-top Spider waiting in the wings for a July debut, Alfa has now just added the 159 Sportwagon to its portfolio with a billion euro investment.
Following swiftly in the tyre tracks of the new 159 saloon, the Sportwagon derivative is yet another fine, eye-catching example of the Italian car designer's art, which generally puts Alfa Romeo products in a class of their own.
Mediocrity has always been something of a sin in the eyes of Alfa and, without resorting to overkill helpings of ostentation, it has scored once again.
Longer and wider than the outgoing 156 estate, the 159 Sportwagon is hugely stylish without being pretentiously showy, featuring a neatly sculpted, svelte appearance which makes this handsome addition to the compact executive estate car line-up a welcome sight.
Like its saloon stablemate, the 159 Sportwagon has addressed the room limitations of the outgoing 156, providing a greater sense of space in both front and rear of the cabin while also including some 14 stowage areas which include a glove compartment, front and rear armrest storage and secret hidy holes beneath the luggage bay.
However, while the regular shaped cargo area offers 445 litres of load space beneath the retractable boot cover - and the 60:40-split rear seat folds to provide a further 850 litres of flat stowage space below the window line - the high set loading lip and not over generous boot opening does perhaps make the Sportwagon more of a lifestyle estate than truly serious heavy load-lugger.
In true Alfa spirit, the 159 Sportwagon offers five power options - three petrol, 1.9-litre 160bhp, 2.2-litre 185bhp and a 3.2-litre V6 260bhp with two diesels, a 1.9-litre developing 150bhp and a 2.4-litre 200bhp turbo charged.
Paired with a six-speed smooth manual transmission all five engines provide plenty of push with the 1.9-litre petrol capable of doing the 0-62mph dash in under ten seconds but returning only 32mpg on average.
And, while the 2.2-litre takes only nine seconds to whisk you from 0-62mph while returning just under 30mpg, the powerhouse flagship 3. …