Alfa Romeo 159: Now in Australia
NEWS ON RADIO
Alfa Romeo 159
12th June, 2006
The all-new Alfa Romeo 159 is now on sale in Australia. It heralds the arrival of a range of new cars from the Italian car maker that will arrive here over the next six months.
“If the Alfa Romeo 156 was the car that redefined Alfa Romeo, then the Alfa Romeo 159 is the car that takes Alfa Romeo to the next level,” indicated David Stone, General Manager of Alfa Romeo in Australia. “Indeed, it would be fair to say that the 159 is even more important than the 156 as it will provide not just an expanded range of sports sedans, it is also the basis for three more new models due this year, the 159 Sportwagon, Brera and Spider, as well as models as yet unannounced.”
Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro in collaboration with Alfa Romeo Centro Stile at Arese, Milan, the new 159 combines engineering with outstanding performance and handling characteristics appropriate to the pedigree of one of the world’s most famous sporting marques.
The Alfa 159 is built on a brand new platform, making it one of the toughest cars around, with torsional rigidity of over 180,000 daNm/rad. In terms of safety, like many other prestige marques, it has recently been awarded a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP.
One of the Italian car manufacturer’s aims with the 159 project was to take the lead in the field of automotive passive safety. An Alfa Romeo engineered floorpan, which incorporates high performance materials, multi-ply sheet metal, and laser welding, was the starting point.
The construction of the bodyshell also benefits from numerous measures, such as the use of boxed elements that are connected rigidly both transversely and vertically; three ‘load lines’ in the front, longitudinal beams that run the entire length of the car, built-in deformable structures, and a large number of spot welds around structural nodes.
The result is impressive torsional rigidity of the bodyshell. The 159 also boasts seven airbags, including a bag to protect the driver’s knees, and sidebags that extend all along the complete window area. In addition, there are innovative restraint systems with pre-tensioners and load limiters on the seatbelts, and front seats with an anti-whiplash system that automatically brings the head restraint closer to the occupant’s neck in the event of a rear impact.
The torsional rigidity of this new chassis also assures optimum roadholding, and superb strength and safety even in the event of a high-speed collision. This is achieved by using cutting edge technology, innovative materials, and the use of high-strength steels (58% of the total), and dual-phase steels (7%).
The centre (B) pillar has three reinforcement levels to protect passengers from side-on collisions, whilst the high-strength steel floor has been designed with three load lines to prevent it from folding even in high speed head-on collisions.
Three versions of the new 159, priced from $49,990 to $74,990, are on sale now with a choice of three powerplants. Two new direct injection petrol engines - 2.2 litre 136 kW 4-cylinder unit and a 3.2 litre 191 kW V6 - combine the JTS (Jet Thrust Stoichiometric) direct injection technology of Alfa Romeo with continuously variable valve timing, (both inlet and exhaust), for the first time.
With specific power outputs of between 60 and 62 kW/litre, and almost 90% of maximum torque available at just 2,000 rpm, both JTS units boast outstanding performance, yet offer significant fuel savings and comply with Euro 4 exhaust emission regulations.
From launch the 159 will be available with the 2.4 litre 20 valve 147 kW 5-cylinder JTD turbo diesel engine powerplant, featuring the company’s JTD MultiJet common rail direct injection systems and provides the company an opportunity to play catch-up in the highly competative marketing field of diesel cars. This is a market in which Audi and Peugeot are highly successful. It is also a market which Volkswagen, with their new Jetta and Passat, is bound to achieve success.
The JTD unit also features variable geometry turbocharging, and incorporate a ‘for life’, maintenance-free particulate trap (DPF) in anticipation of Euro 5 emissions regulations.
All three launch engines are mated to 6-speed manual gearboxes. Additionally, six-speed automatic transmissions will become available on 2.4 JTDM and 3.2 V6 JTS versions of the new 159 in early 2007.
The 3.2 JTS engined versions of the new Alfa 159 are equipped, as standard, with Alfa Romeo’s state-of-the-art Q4 permanent four-wheel drive system. Q4 employs three differentials, with a self-locking Torsen C unit at the centre of the system which divides drive torque by a ratio of 57% to the rear wheels and 43% to the front in normal driving conditions. Torque is split between front and rear axles and constantly modulated by the central Torsen differential on the basis of available grip, with a bias towards the rear axle promoting handling characteristics appropriate to an Alfa Romeo sports saloon.
The suspension of the new Alfa 159 combines revisions to the proven high double wishbone set-up of the outgoing 156 with a new, sophisticated multilink rear configuration. The new system is designed to promote smooth, accurate steering responses, exceptional stability and controllability - even when close to adhesion limits - and first class body control allied to remarkable comfort over all road surface conditions.
The powerful braking system of the 159 comprises 305mm ventilated front discs, and 278mm solid discs at the rear. Versions powered by the 3.2 JTS petrol and 2.4 JTDM turbodiesel engines feature larger, 330mm ventilated discs and Brembo four piston monobloc aluminium callipers at the front, with 292mm ventilated discs at the rear, for even greater, fade-free stopping power.
The 159 offers power assisted steering, requiring 2.3 turns lock-to-lock.
Both passive and active safety features are comprehensively represented in the new 159. In addition to seven airbags, seatbelt pretensioners, and a fully integrated Fire Prevention System, the new car comes with a comprehensive range of state-of-the-art electronic braking, traction control and stability systems fitted as standard. ABS anti-lock braking is combined with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution over all four wheels, and a sophisticated Vehicle Dynamic Control unit enhances cornering stability. VDC is further augmented by Anti-Schlupf Regelung (ASR) to limit wheelspin during acceleration.
The Motor Speed Regulator (MSR) modulates braking torque when changing down through the gears, and a unique Hill Holder function facilitates smooth hill starts.
The sporting lines and compact dimensions of the new 159 belie a surprisingly spacious, flexible interior. The new car has a wheelbase 105mm longer than its predecessor, significantly improving both front and rear passenger legroom. Moreover, despite being less tall than the 156, the new Alfa Romeo offers improved front and rear door access and an increase in interior headroom, particularly in the rear.
As with all Alfa Romeo models, driver orientated ergonomics, superior passenger comfort and lavish standard equipment levels are fundamental to the interior design of the new Italian saloon. The 159 boasts generous standard equipment specification offering, even on entry level vehicles, including seven airbags, automatic Dual Zone climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors, auto dimming rear view mirror, a multi-function display and trip computer, fog lights, 17 inch spoked alloy wheels (18 inch on the V6), and an RDS 8-speaker stereo radio with ten CD stacker and steering wheel mounted controls.
Optional equipment includes a sunroof, metallic paint and 18" alloy wheels.
THE ALFA ROMEO 159 ~ DESIGN
The all-new 159 is 225 mm longer and 85 mm wider than the outgoing 156 it replaces. Designed around an all-new high strength platform, it maintains a long-standing Alfa Romeo tradition of engineering excellence, outstanding performance and a thoroughly engaging sporting prowess within a highly distinctive, compact saloon car package. As with all Alfa Romeo models, driver orientated ergonomics, passenger comfort and standard equipment levels are fundamental to the interior design of the new saloon.
The top of the shield generates powerful bonnet coachwork lines which flow seamlessly into steeply raked ‘A’ pillars. Once again, the number plate is offset to the left; a style signature echoing past classics and unique to Alfa Romeo.
In profile, the new Alfa’s rising waistline flows from the pronounced flare of the front wheel arches to give the 159 an assertive, purposeful stance. The passenger compartment ‘rests’ on a powerful ‘shoulder’, demarcating door handle and side indicator positions, which reaches its broadest point above the rear wheel arch to reinforce the new wide track of the 159.
Further back, the strongly raked rear window finishes well behind the wheel arch above a visually compact rear end featuring slim, horizontal light clusters which bisect the boot shut line. Full width colour coded bumpers, and a boot lid spoiler reinforce the new broad stance of the 159.
The new 159 will be available in a choice of nine colours at launch, including both solid and metallic black, three shades of grey - Stromboli, Vesuvio and Titanio - Alfa Silver, Alfa Red, Oltremare Blue and Rubino Red.
As with all Alfa Romeo cars, the interior is focused on the driver’s immediate surroundings, which have been designed with an emphasis on ergonomic functionality. A height adjustable driver’s seat allied to a rake and reach adjustable, leather clad steering wheel guarantee a perfect driving position for the widest possible cross-section of customers.
The driver’s instrument binnacle houses large, deeply hooded speedometer and rev counter dials, backlit in white to optimise the driver’s night vision. A multi-lingual, multi-function display gives access to a wide range of functions as well as the trip computer. Subsidiary gauges comprise fuel and engine temperature, turbo boost (diesel) and oil temperature (petrol).
The 159’s driver orientated centre console places a new, electronic key-activated engine start button, a sophisticated Dual Zone climate control and a stereo radio/CD player within easy operational reach of the driver. Specifically built and optimised for the 159, the stereo features a power output of 4x30 watts and eight speakers, offering outstanding sound quality.
The standard 60:40 split/folding rear seat with integral armrest allows for the rapid expansion of the 405 litre luggage compartment into a robust, practical load platform offering impressive stowage space. There are up to 14 storage areas of various sizes within the cabin, including a large glove compartment, an insulated bin in the front centre armrest and a storage compartment in the pull-out central rear armrest.
As befitting a sports saloon, exceptional build quality, elegant surroundings and superior comfort levels are assured aboard the new 159. A highly rigid bodyshell allied to a high quality fascia moulding, extensive carpet soundproofing and thick, 5mm front side window glazing, have been designed to reduce cabin noise and vibration to a minimum.
Turismo trim level models are upholstered in Alfatex, a soft, durable, easy to clean fabric patented by Alfa Romeo, available in black, grey or beige with a range of complementary dashboard colours. All 159 models will come with a choice of black, tan or red leather upholstery fitted as standard.
THE ALFA ROMEO 159 ~ EQUIPMENT
The new 159 boasts a generous standard specification.
The two specification levels include the following:
Alfa Romeo 159 1.9, 2.2 and 2.4 JTD:
Alfa Romeo 159 3.2 V6:
ENHANCED COMFORT AND TELEMATICS
The 159 interior offers the very latest systems made possible by today’s technology and a range of options carefully considered to simplify and enhance life on board. Key options include sunroof, metallic paint, electrically adjustable front seats, a Bose sound system, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity and 18" alloy wheels.
Dual climate control
The system has solar sensors that monitor solar gain within the two zones and adjust the temperature accordingly. The systems also feature a highly efficient active carbon pollen filter, and an Air Quality Sensor which automatically activates the climate control recirculation function to prevent the intake of air in areas of high pollution.
The Bluetooth hands-free system is fully integrated into the new Alfa. It is accessed via a control panel display allied to control keys located on the steering wheel as well as the latest voice activation technology, which has no need to learn a user’s voice in advance. It will store details of and manage up to five mobile phones, enabling more than one passenger to make use of the hands-free facility.
The system automatically lowers the volume of the radio, and allows the driver and passengers to hear the caller through the stereo loudspeakers. An integral, echo-cancellation device maintains sound quality without any deterioration in timbre, thus preventing unpleasant, metallic tones.
Bose sound system
The 570 watt system comprises a radio/CD player with MP3 compatibility and 10 loudspeakers, including a subwoofer built into the luggage compartment with its own 6-channel, 200 watt, digital amplifier for the reproduction of the lowest frequencies.
Due to their brighter, far reaching illumination, the new optional xenon headlamps are combined with an automatic ride corrector which compensates not only for static changes due to axle load variation, but also dynamic changes caused by acceleration and braking.
Follow me home headlights
The rear system consists of four ultrasound sensors installed in the rear bumper and linked to an electronic control unit and a buzzer. The four detectors cover the rear corners of the new 159 from a distance of less than 60cm, and the area immediately behind the car from a distance of less than 150cm. Proximity information is transmitted to the driver in the form of beeps at intervals. The beeps are emitted with increasing frequency, becoming a continuous signal when the car reaches a distance of 30cm from any obstacle.
THE ALFA ROMEO 159 ~ ENGINES AND TRANSMISSIONS
The 159 offers a choice of four powerplants. Two new direct injection petrol engines - 2.2 litre 136 kW 4-cylinder units and a 3.2 litre 191 kW V6 - combine the JTS (Jet Thrust Stoichiometric) direct injection technology of Alfa Romeo with continuously variable valve timing, (both inlet and exhaust), for the first time.
With specific power outputs of between 60 and 62 kW/litre, and almost 90% of maximum torque available at just 2,000 rpm, all three new JTS units boast outstanding performance, yet offer significant fuel savings and readily comply with stringent Euro 4 exhaust emission regulations.
The two diesel engine options which complete the launch range exemplify the company’s on-going pre-eminence in the field of diesel technology: a 1.9 litre 16 valve 110 kW 4-cylinder unit, and a 2.4 litre 20 valve 147 kW 5-cylinder powerplant, both of which feature the company’s JTD MultiJet common rail direct injection systems.
Both units also feature variable geometry turbocharging, and incorporate a ‘for life’, maintenance-free particulate trap (DPF) in anticipation of Euro 5 emissions regulations. Available in 2007, Alfa Romeo’s widely acclaimed twin overhead camshaft 1.9 JTDM 16v unit now combines a power delivery of 110 kW with a remarkable 305 Nm of torque - a figure comparable to that generated by the company’s four overhead camshaft, 24 valve, all-aluminium 3.2 litre JTS V6.
All four engines are mated to 6-speed manual gearboxes. Six-speed automatic transmissions will become available on 1.9 and 2.4 JTDM and 3.2 V6 JTS versions of the new Alfa 159 in early 2007.
The 2.2 JTS and 1.9 JTDM versions of the new 159 are mated to the M32.6 6-speed manual gearbox, whilst 3.2 JTS and 2.4 JTDM models are equipped with the F40 6-speed manual transmission. The ratios of both transmissions have been chosen to emphasise performance, and gear change smoothness and accuracy have been enhanced by the use of multiple cone synchronisers.
3.2 JTS V6
§ Fuel consumption:
Making its debut in the new 159, the new quadruple overhead camshaft all-aluminium V6 powerplant features both the company’s JTS direct petrol injection system and twin phase continuously variable valve timing. Developed by Fiat Powertrain Technologies, a new industrial enterprise designed to integrate all the Fiat Group’s innovation capabilities and expertise in engines and transmissions, the new all-alloy engines feature cylinder heads, pistons, induction and exhaust systems designed and built by Alfa Romeo. Final assembly of this engine is carried out in Italy, at the Pomigliano D’Arco Alfa Romeo plant.
This outstanding unit takes its name - Jet Thrust Stoichiometric - from its specific combustion system, an original Alfa Romeo concept that involves the high pressure injection of fuel, at 120 bar, directly into the combustion chamber with a stoichiometric mixture optimised to increase engine power and torque first and foremost - thus adapting this technology to the requirements of a sporting car - whilst adopting the stratified charge method to reduce fuel consumption in a limited speed band close to idling.
Hence the 3.2 JTS engine in the new 159 operates with a lean burn system up to about 1,500 rpm, making significant fuel savings. Above this engine speed, however, it burns a stoichiometric air-fuel mixture - i.e. with a conventional 14.7:1 ratio between the two components - thus guaranteeing performance superior to that achievable by a conventional, indirect injection unit.
Primarily, this is because fuel injected directly into the combustion chamber - instead of the intake ports - cools intake air, thus increasing the engine’s volumetric efficiency. As the temperature drops, so the gases increase in density and the volume therefore decreases, allowing more air into the combustion chamber. Cooling the chamber also reduces the risk of engine knock, allowing for an increase in compression ratio - in this case to 11.25:1 - and a commensurate improvement in engine efficiency.
Allied to JTS technology, the light aluminium alloy cylinder heads of the new 3.2 litre V6 also features ‘Twin Phaser’ continuously variable valve timing - for both intake and exhaust - already adopted on 4-cylinder JTS Alfa Romeo engines. Via two camshafts per cylinder bank, variable valve timing allows the phase angle of both inlet and exhaust cams to be varied by up to 50 degrees, optimising the volumetric efficiency of the engine at all engine speeds whilst reducing fuel consumption and emissions under lighter throttle settings.
The new camshaft drive system features maintenance-free chain drive with automatic hydraulic tensioners, whilst the valves themselves are controlled by a low friction roller finger system with hydraulic uptake of tappet play.
This refined new V6 combines power and torque peaks of 191 kW at 6,200 rpm and 322 Nm at 4,500 rpm respectively with smooth, linear power delivery from low speeds. Some 90% of peak torque is available from just 1,800 rpm and maintained up to 6,250 rpm. Hence, the 3.2 litre V6 24v unit delivers sensational performance, but is also very docile, and the 159 can cruise effortlessly in sixth gear at less than 2,000 rpm, yet accelerate rapidly and smoothly away without the need for changing gear.
Mated to an F40 6-speed manual transmission and the Q4 four-wheel drive system, the 3.2 litre JTS V6 engine will accelerate the 159 from 0-100 km/h in 7.0 seconds and on to a top speed of 240 km/h, yet it easily meets the stringent Euro Stage 4 exhaust emission limits.
§ Fuel consumption:
The new 2.2 version of the 4-cylinder Alfa Romeo JTS powerplant features aluminium cylinder heads, blocks and crankcases, effecting a weight reduction of some 20% over the units they replace.
The engines also adopts the ‘Twin Phaser’ continuously variable valve timing described above. In addition, they feature a low friction, maintenance-free chain drive to the camshafts and water pump and are further equipped with a dual detonation sensor to improve sensitivity to engine knock, enhancing maximum performance.
Matched to an M32.6 6-speed manual transmission, the Euro 4 compliant 2.2 litre unit develops 136 KW at 6,500 rpm, and 230 Nm of torque at 4,500 rpm. These high power outputs require the use of sodium cooled exhaust valves. The 159 2.2 JTS will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 8.8 seconds, and still returns 7.3 l/100 km on the open road.
2.4 JTDM 20v
o in town: 9.2 l/100 km
o out of town: 5.4 l/100 km
o combined: 6.8 l/100 km
o CO2: 179g/km
However, a MultiJet engine differs from its Unijet counterpart in two essential areas; the injectors and the electronic control unit.
To facilitate multi-injection, the new injectors can both reduce the time lag between injections from 1,500 to just 150 microseconds, and reduce the minimum quantity of fuel injected from 2 to less than 1 cu mm. In tandem, the new control unit modulates injection strategy continually to adjust to changes within three parameters; engine rpm, torque required at any given time by the driver and coolant temperature.
Thus, when coolant temperature is less than 60 degrees and torque requirement low, two small and one large injections are performed. As torque demand increases, the number of injections drops to two; one small and one large. Under conditions of high rpm and high torque demand, only one injection is required whilst, with coolant temperature at over 60 degrees, emissions are minimised with one small, one large, then one small injection in the sequence.
Hence, start-up times and exhaust smoke are reduced, noise levels and vibration are lowered to ensure a quieter drive and improved passenger comfort, fuel consumption is reduced by a further 10% and emission control reduction amounts to 50%; enough to bring the unit within Euro 4 emissions limits.
Derived from the familiar, 2.4 JTD five cylinder 10 valve common rail powerplant, several changes have been made to the latest version of this 20 valve turbodiesel to boost performance and engine torque at low speeds whilst returning impressive fuel consumption figures. The common rail system includes two new control strategies for automatically calibrating and balancing the diesel injection, to both lower noise and reduce vibration, whilst the direct injection pressure has been increased from 1400 to 1600 bar.
The engine also includes a number of new components; a cylinder head with small stem valves to boost inlet air quantity, fractured steel con rods of a new, stress resistant design, a new inlet manifold fitted with a throttle valve at one of the two inlet ports to control air turbulence, a new high efficiency intercooler, and a throttle valve to prevent shaking if the engine is stalled.
The electronic EGR exhaust gas cooling system has also been modified; the lubricating circuit has a new oil pump and an external air/oil heat exchanger to cool the oil, whilst the water pump on the cooling circuit is also new.
Turboboost is provided by a KKK 2080 turbocharger with a variable geometry turbine that improves power delivery and also generates very high torque at low engine speeds; 90% of the impressive 400 Nm peak torque is available from between just 1,750 and 3,500 rpm. Mated to an F40 6-speed manual gearbox, this allows the Alfa 2.4 JTD MultiJet to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 8.4 seconds, whilst returning a remarkable fuel consumption of just 6.8 l/100 km in the combined cycle.
ALFA ROMEO 159 ~ RIDE AND HANDLING
Allied to an all-new chassis, the suspension design of the new 159 is the outcome of an extensive and thorough development process aimed at achieving the highest possible levels of driveability and handling appropriate to a sporting marque, combined with optimum travelling comfort. It combines revisions to the proven high double wishbone set-up of the outgoing 156 with a sophisticated new multilink rear configuration. The whole system is designed to promote smooth, accurate steering response, exceptional stability and controllability - even when close to adhesion limits - and first class body control allied to remarkable comfort over all road surface conditions.
The 3.2 JTS version of the 159 also benefit from the Q4 four-wheel drive system; a mechanical system enhanced by cutting edge electronic technology to guarantee the smoothest possible power delivery and optimum traction under all driving conditions.
Engineering improvements to the aluminium upper and lower arm set-up include an increase in the size of the coaxial damper spring to improve its capacity to absorb poor road surfaces, the use of a pair of dry friction sliding bushes in the aluminium upper arm for strength, reliability and a more progressive action, and a relocation of the steering axis closer to the centre of the wheel for improved cornering response.
Additionally, the suspension is now connected to the chassis via a subframe which is stiffer than the previously employed crossbeam.
From a dynamic viewpoint, the high double wishbone layout combines long wheel travel with outstanding control. This configuration offers the 159 maximum tyre grip, improved traction under extreme conditions, a self-alignment effect proportional to the lateral acceleration applied in a corner, superior steering precision and sensitivity, graduated steering wheel effort up to adhesion limits, and the minimisation of pitching under extreme acceleration or braking.
Key features of the new multilink configuration include a higher anchorage point of the longitudinal link to facilitate a longer, more flexible suspension stroke, an enlarged bi-tube spring damper unit for improved ride comfort, and an aluminium upright with a high rigidity hub supporting the connection bushes for both camber and longitudinal links. In addition, the new set-up features a rear hydraulic bush to optimise filtering of poor road surfaces and a high yield steel crossbeam isolated from the bodyshell by four elastic bushes to dampen high frequency vibration.
The telescopic steering column is divided into two sections for comfort and safety. The lower section is collapsible to ensure that steering wheel position is maintained relative to the driver during an impact. The upper section offers both reach and rake adjustment to the driver. A steel bracket and a highly rigid magnesium mount prevent vibration.
Careful matching of the steering geometry to the wheel arch volume has facilitated high steering angles even with the largest tyres fitted, affording the new Alfa a turning circle of just 11.2 metres between kerbs.
Q4 four-wheel drive
Torque split between front and rear axles is constantly modulated by the central Torsen differential on the basis of available grip, with a bias towards the rear axle promoting sporting handling appropriate to the marque. Modulation is mechanical and continuous to guarantee the smoothest possible power delivery, and the system is further enhanced by the full range of electronic stability controls to guarantee optimum traction and performance under all driving conditions.
THE ALFA ROMEO 159 ~ SAFETY
With a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating to its name, and four stars for child occupant protection, the 159 is amongst the top of its category in terms of passive safety. It also meets preventive safety needs with an adjustable cockpit that adapts perfectly to drivers of any size. The combination of a height adjustable driver’s seat, and reach and rake adjustable steering, allied to an extensive glazed area, allows the best possible view of the road ahead. User-friendly ergonomics allow drivers to operate all instruments and controls without taking their eyes off the road.
The front passenger airbag may be deactivated manually via an ignition key switch on the fascia. A dashboard warning light indicates this condition. Though the seatbelt pretensioner remains active, a rear facing baby seat can therefore be safely fitted.
Fire Prevention System
The new Alfa 159 is equipped, as standard, with a comprehensive range of state-of-the-art electronic braking, traction control and stability systems: ABS is combined with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution over all four wheels and Hydraulic Brake Assistance, whilst a sophisticated Vehicle Dynamic Control unit enhances cornering stability. VDC is further augmented by traction control to limit wheelspin during acceleration, Motor Speed Regulator to modulate braking torque when changing down through the gears, and a unique Hill Holder function to facilitate smooth hill starts.
ABS with EBD and HBA
The active sensors are less sensitive to interference from electromagnetic fields and road surface heating and, because they can detect very low speeds, augment the efficiency of the satellite navigation system by allowing more accurate updating of data on the route covered by the car.
EBD distributes braking action over all four wheels to prevent them locking, and ensures full control of the car in all situations. To reduce brake pad overheating, the system also adapts its operation to both grip availability and brake pad efficiency.
Though primarily designed to automatically increase brake force when insufficient brake pedal loading has been applied during an emergency stopping procedure, Hydraulic Brake Assistance can even help experienced drivers who have applied the correct amount of pedal pressure, by reducing braking attenuation time in all cases (the time between initial pedal loading and maximum brake circuit pressure).
The VDC continuously monitors tyre grip in both longitudinal and lateral directions. If the car starts to slide, VDC cuts in to restore directional stability. It uses sensors to detect rotation of the car body about its vertical axis (yaw), lateral acceleration, and steering input. Comparing this data with computer generated parameters, the system establishes whether the car is cornering within its adhesion limits or if the front or rear wheels are about to lose grip.
To restore the required trajectory, VDC generates a yawing movement to counter that responsible for the vehicle’s instability by braking the appropriate wheel individually and reducing engine power via the throttle. Exceptionally smooth brake modulation and engine power reduction are key attributes of a system designed by Alfa engineers to maintain outstanding performance and driving satisfaction throughout its operation.
ASR not only optimises vehicle safety in conditions of minimal or constantly varying degrees of grip, but also greatly reduces mechanical stress to the differential and gearbox through effective control of low speed take-off and traction.
The system is activated automatically whenever the engine is started, but may be deactivated via a switch on the centre console. A flashing warning light indicates ASR operation, whilst a second light illuminates to indicate system faults or irregularities. ASR deactivation is required when snow chains are fitted to allow for their effective use.
With the 159, Alfa Romeo is now more suitably equipped to go to market in a very competitive segment against such cars as the Audi A4, BMW 3, Mercedes-Benz C, Peugeot 407, Saab 9-3 and, to a lesser extent, Volkswagen's new Passat V6 AWD wondercar.
The Audi A4 remains the editor's pick in the sporty compact 4-door saloon market. Although the Peugeot 407 HDi is recognised as brilliant when it comes to diesel power in this particular segment (lower prestige).
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