Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Alfa Romeo 159 : Finale

So, now that we've decided that it looks simply stunning, the car goes like stick, how does it feel to drive and how does it feel in the handling department?

The car weighs 1550 kg dry and has a 2.2 L powerplant putting out maximum of 185 bhp. Its a little low for the size of the beast at only 119 bhp/tonne and thats all the way at the 6500 rpm range. Not unusual for a natural aspirated car but japanese rivals particularly the "H" brand have achieved far greater numbers, in particular a certain Type-R.

Torque figures however are far more competitive. At only 4500 rpm, the car produces its peak torque at 230 Nm. Making it easier to drive compared to the track-purpose Type-R. I found that in Automatic mode the car simply wants to relax and not bother what goes on around it. The steering is responsive and will happily take bends with ease.
Tap/hold the gearlever to the left for 2 seconds and the car shifts into Manual selespeed mode. This is where it gets fun. The 159 is a front drive format (for those that dont know, this means that the front 2 wheels are being powered by the engine) and as a result handles impecably well around bends and quick turns of the wheel.

You dont feel like your sitting on a spongy cotton candy cloud nor do you feel like you are sitting on concrete with a bare backside. The car simply sits lower to the ground at higher speeds, maintaining comfort as you ride, but with a bonus of feeling much more planted.

Overtaking is a breeze as you dont feel that you strain the engine like in a much smaller 1300 cc car nor does it punch you in the guts and pull your head back like in a turbocharged Golf Gti or WRX.

However I do find there is a slight niggle when it comes to changing gears at low speeds. You try to expect the response to be like in a regular manual but it doesnt come. Instead changing gears downwards or upwards is kind of like playing chess with a computer. You know its fast and accurate but it still decides to think first. Forgivable really but frustrating if your right foot isnt used to the timing.

The trick with the Selespeed is to NOT lift up your right foot as you change gears with the shifter. Maintain position of the rightfoot so you dont confuse the computer.
Fantastic little Italian bella really.

Coming to a halt I check the usual essentials of a car, glove compartment, boot etc etc and find that everything is what you'd want from a sedan but with added excitement of a sports car.

Press the start button to turn the engine off, pull out the key card and you walk way smiling as you turn around to look at it over and over.

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