The Alfa Romeo 159 comes in two variations: as a Sportswagon or a Saloon. The 156 model could be counted as its predecessor, with the 159 released three years after. Compared to its older origin, the Sportswagon is much stiffer, making it a better bet on the road. Load carrying ability is another remarkable improvement in this variation. Its appearance is also more than attractive; but compared with its class leader rivals such as the Audi A4 Avant, the Saab 9-3 Sportswagon and the BMW 3 Series Touring, the 159 may falter in terms of ability.
The 159 originally had three petrol engines: the 1.9-litre engine offered during its launch, which was eventually replaced by the 1.8-litre MPI at 140bhp. But even that unit was dropped and upgraded to the 2.2-litre JTS at a whooping 185bhp. The engine at the top of this range is the 3.2-litre V6 at 260bhp. Other current alternatives include the 2.4-litre and 1.9-litre JTDM, which are both equally impressive performers on the road. There’s also the ECO model from 2009, a 1.9 JTDM at a decent 120bhp and with a fuel economy from 49mpg to 53mpg. Another petrol option would be the turbocharged 1750 TBi at 200bhp—this powerhouse is incredibly strong and smooth on the road, and makes tasks such as overtaking effortless.
The 159’s stiffer body enables remarkable ride and handling. Steering is not as quick as the other Alfa models, but is still direct enough in terms of feedback. The interior continues this fairly smooth ride with enhanced interior feature such as electric windows and automatic climate control. Luggage space is generous in the Sportswagon compared to the Saloon at an adequate 460 litres. The square shape of the boot space makes fitting large bags and several grocery bags a breeze.
Comfort isn’t the 159’s strongest feature. The interior isn’t very roomy—although the 159 comes at a price tag cheaper than its high end rivals, the insides aren’t any larger than affordable alternatives like the Volkswagen Passat estate or the Honda Accord Tourer.
Storage space is adequate, but the interior could use more cubbies and small pockets for placing gadgets and documents within reach. Unfortunately the vehicle’s handling fails in terms of absorbing the shock off unsmooth surfaces like bumpy roads or rougher pathways. Expect the front-wheel drive models to have problems with grip along the more difficult road surfaces. The 159’s front tyres are unable to balance steer and power simultaneously. Nonetheless drivers and passengers won’t mind the fun yet safe delivery of a ride along any road conditions.
Although the boot space is adequate, rear seats can’t be completely folded flat to make more room. Some would have problems with the high sill, but it’s not much of a compromise if you’re after a more stylish look to your estate.
The interior design is nothing special, and the finish could use significant improvement to better its overall look. In terms of practicality, however, drivers won’t have any issues with adjusting the wheel according to their preferred reach and height. All other seats offer the same range in terms of adjustment.
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