NEW ALFA 166
After enjoying its world premiere at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, the New Alfa 166 will go on sale from October.
The flagship, created at the Alfa Romeo Style Centre, expresses harmony of form and content while combining the elegance of a great saloon with the sports traits of a coupé. The New 166 complements these successful features with interior and exterior aesthetic motifs of great visual impact. The interior trim and exterior colour matches are also very sophisticated.
The car's imposing front end has been fully redesigned. The tall shield, for example, now forms the traditional Alfa three-part motif in conjunction with the two side air intakes. This motif marks a family resemblance to more recent models while allowing the Alfa Romeo Style Centre to reclaim and reinterpret distinctive traits from the company's illustrious past.
As on the previous model, two converging ribs delimit and emphasise a central bulge that hints at the presence of the powerful, beefy engine beneath. The side view of the New Alfa 166 features some of the chrome trim that was present on the previous model: i.e. on the door handles, roof outline and door sills. Not to mention the fact the outline immediately conveys an impression of a car that is strong, compact and firmly anchored to the ground. At the same time, the extensive metal area prevails over the glass and makes the vehicle look like a coupé from the side.
Viewed from the rear, the Alfa 166 is immediately recognisable for its broad shoulders that make it look like an animal waiting to pounce - and for its short, fleeting tail. The slightly drooping tail evokes the sensation of a very agile car despite its large saloon dimensions. The relatively unchanged bumpers are still flush with the metal surface and blend into the vehicle body. The light clusters on the New Alfa 166 are among its most distinctive features and designer objects in their own right.
And so from the exterior to the interior. The same good looks are apparent inside, where lashings of space are backed by outstanding comfort, sophisticated trim and padding and careful attention to detail. The real attraction of the new model lies in a passenger compartment that has been made lighter through careful choice of colours and materials that are a pleasure to touch and look at. An extensive choice of materials (cloth and leather) and colours combine to create three different environments: sports, elegant or classic. Customers can also choose from four different types of facia according to version and trim level. Not to mention the fact that the option list includes exclusive upholstery of huge appeal, a superlative example of Italian craft tradition.
This model is set to trump the opposition with a winning blend of breeding and temperament. And more. Beneath its attractive exterior, the new vehicle boasts a temperament unique for its category that is complemented by an ability to dominate the road typical of an Alfa Romeo. This characteristic is particularly appreciated by those who expect driving satisfaction even from a big prestige saloon. The power unit comes in various engine-gearbox combinations that are among the most powerful and efficient currently on the market. The suspension layout is able to assure absolute command of the car in any situation. A host of electronic devices is also present to enable you to enjoy the great performance levels of which all Alfa 166 versions are capable in absolute safety: from an ABS with electronic load proportioning valve to antislip systems for automatic traction control.
In detail, the model offers six power units that present different characteristics and all together make up a comprehensive range able to meet the expectations of any customer, however well-informed and demanding. The four petrol units are the 150 bhp 2.0 TS, the 188 bhp 2.5 V6 24v, the 220 bhp 3.0 V6 and the 240 bhp 3.2 V6 24v. The two turbodiesels are the 150 bhp 2.4 JTD 10v and the 175 bhp 2.4 Multijet 20v. These units are all combined with a 6 speed manual gearbox, with the exception of the 220 bhp 3.0 V6 that is only available with an automatic transmission. The lively 175 bhp 2.4 Multijet 20v may also be paired with a sophisticated new generation 5-speed automatic transmission.
But power is not all. The Alfa Romeo flagship has also been designed with a view to pleasing its passengers. The new model immediately reveals itself as a car that is extremely satisfying to inhabit: as driver or passenger, over short trips or long motorway journeys. The interior environment is comfortable because it is so ergonomic. It is pleasing due to the gratifying sensations aroused by an advanced climate control system, outstanding sound-proofing and a very comfortable suspension. It is sophisticated because the in-car technology has been designed to make life easier: with an efficient electronic interface, Cruise Control that is useful on motorway routes, a smart radio that dynamically adjusts volume to the surrounding noise and a satellite navigation system to suggest the best way to a chosen destination. The new central console display delivers a stylish metallic effect.
The New Alfa 166 range is made up of three comprehensive specifications that offer great value for money: the new Impression, Progression and Distinctive packages. A New Alfa 166 TI option pack is also available with low ride for a more entertaining drive with better handling. On the outside, this particular version offers a special badge and 18" alloy wheels. Inside, the TI environment is identifiable by seats trimmed with black leather with an embroidered TI logo in red. The same sporty look extends to the TI logo on the aluminium sill plate and red button and instrument panel lighting.
All versions are extremely well-equipped, as you would expect from a top-class flagship. The host of options will satisfy even the most demanding of customers in this market band. Not forgetting the accessory range created to meet even the most specific customisation requirements.
Here are just a few of the numerous systems and devices available on the new model: active sensor ABS with electronic brakeforce distributor; VDC; front airbags, sidebags and windowbags; automatic climate control; Cruise Control; bi-Xenon headlights; rain and parking sensor; follow-me-home lights; radio controls on the steering wheel; satellite navigation system with maps and voice guide, GSM phone with handsfree set and Hi-Fi system with 10 speakers and CD changer. Lastly, five types of alloy wheels are available according to the version: two 16", two 17" and one 18".
And finally, the long-term (starting from 24 months) hire option is confirmed with the launch of the New Alfa 166. This allows the private customer to own his very own flagship by simply paying a monthly rate, obviously without having to make any down-payment. And the price includes insurance, maintenance and warranty. So this new service brings the utmost peace of mind and the possibility of immediately and clearly planning all the expenditure connected with operating a car. Moreover, in the case of the professional, this formula makes it possible to enjoy all current tax advantages.
REJUVENATED EXTERIOR STYLING
The new flagship inherits from its predecessor a clean, cutting shape that makes it look agile and ready to leap into action: the New Alfa 166 takes Alfa's dual mission of 'sportiness and elegance' and turns it into an understated beauty that is quintessentially Italian. Classic brand styling cues are not brazenly flaunted but subtly hinted at. The car's volumes and chrome trim are carefully modulated.
The Style Centre has yet again succeeded in finding the right stylistic balance to bring the Alfa 166 right up to date. In its shape, for example, rounded surfaces and corners work out their natural tensions to achieve an ideal balance point. Understated, updated retro Alfa traits are apparent. More recent style motifs that the public now recognises and appreciates as distinguishing Alfa Romeo features are also present in adapted form.
Firstly, the front end has been fully redesigned. The grille is now more upright and forms, together with the two side air intakes, the traditional three-part Alfa motif that suggests a link to famous cars of the past. This motif marks a family resemblance to more recent models while allowing the Alfa Style Centre to reclaim and reinterpret distinctive traits from Alfa's illustrious past.
The imposing front is dominated by a big shield whose upper edge follows the bonnet round and then plunges down to break the bumper line. The badge, again at the top in the centre, is also surrounded by a hint of chrome that underscores the strength and communicative value of the signature. The badge hangs from the slight convexity in the metal that emphasises the join between the bonnet and the upper tip of the shield known as the 'comet'.
One of the most distinctive features on the New Alfa 166 is the light cluster arrangement. These high-tech design creations are compact and made out of clear, non-faceted glass that allows a clear view of the underlying mathematically-modelled reflectors.
As on the previous model, two converging ribs delimit and emphasise a central bulge that hints at the presence of the powerful, beefy engine beneath. The relatively unchanged bumpers are still flush with the metal surface and blend into the vehicle body. The lower part of the extended, rounded bumpers houses turn signals masked by darkened glass that delineates the three-part graphic motif.
The side view of the New Alfa 166 features some of the chrome trim that was present on the previous model: i.e. on the door handles, roof outline and door sills. The extensive area of metal prevails over the glass and makes the vehicle look like a coupé from the side. The body is smooth and rounded, completely free of sharp edges or drip channels. The side handles and flashers are flush with the body.
The bulges over the wheelarches and the wheels flush with the body create an image of a strong, compact car that is firmly glued to the ground. This impression is emphasised by a taut, horizontal muscle from which the entire side is apparently suspended. This feature tapers off smoothly, high up on the rear pillar. Overall, the curved shape of the outline suggests roominess, strength and protection: exactly what you want from a flagship.
When viewed from behind, the New Alfa 166 is immediately recognisable for its broad shoulders that make it look like an animal waiting to pounce - and for its short, fleeting tail. The rear window is joined to a very slender pillar that drops from the passenger compartment and rests strongly on the two wheelarches to give the car an impression of power. The slightly drooping tail evokes the sensation of a very agile car despite its large saloon dimensions. The Alfa Romeo badge sits in the upper part of the luggage compartment. Underneath, the tail-lights mitigate the taut, muscular sides. These are separate, small and embedded in the body.
The Style Centre has prepared a palette of eleven body shades that emphasise the car's shapes and volumes. These include non-metallic, metallic and iridescent shades. The first group includes: Alfa Red and Kyalami Black. A choice of eight metallic shades is available (the first four are brand new): Cernobbio Green, Siena Red, Spoleto Grey, Dolceacqua Grey, Lampedusa Blue, Rialto Grey, Marostica Grey, Pergusa Black. The colour range is concluded by the iridescent Nuvola Blue.
BRIGHTER, MORE ELEGANT INTERIORS
The New 166 brings us the stylistic good looks that are part of Alfa Romeo's great tradition, reinterpreted in the light of today's sensibilities and aesthetic tastes. The same good looks are apparent inside, where lashings of space are backed by outstanding comfort, sophisticated trim and padding and attention to detail.
The lines that run inside the New Alfa 166 passenger compartment are continuations of the exterior shape. The design is flowing and well proportioned, the curves sweeping seamlessly between the front and rear, between the central console and the seats and between the facia and the quilted door panels.
The real attraction of the new model lies in a passenger compartment that has been made lighter through careful choice of colours and materials that are a pleasure to touch and look at. The trim is opulent in terms of aesthetic appearance and also its substance. The environment has been carefully thought out in every detail: from mats that match the ceiling to sealing strip in the same colour as the body. An extensive choice of materials (cloth and leather) and colours are combined to create three different environments: sports, elegant or classic. Customers can also choose from four different types of facia according to version and trim level: a black 'sports' facia, an 'elegant' facia in shades of beige and a 'classic' facia in shades of grey. The facia on the Impression specification comes in black.
A specific exclusive top quality trim is also available as an option. This takes the form of full-grained leather available in three different shades (black, grey and beige) combined with a facia that is also in beige and in the same three shades but with darker overtones. The product is finished in top-stitching that contrasts with the trim shade and represents the very best of traditional Italian craftsmanship.
As on all Alfa Romeo models, the central focus is the driver's cockpit and this has been designed with the maximum care. The driving position is sporty yet comfortable and allows full control of the car under all circumstances. The dashboard, which curves to mirror the shape of the steering wheel, contains the four main instrument dials. These are strictly analogue as Alfa tradition dictates and overlap slightly (like Olympic rings) because they are arranged over different reading planes so that they can easily be identified at a glance. All the other hi-tech items (controls of the climate control system, radio and Trip computer) are clustered on a console in the middle of the car where they can be reached with ease and do not distract the driver's attention. The new central console display delivers a stylish metallic effect.
When designing the facia, the need to deliver optimum climate control was considered. The user-friendly, intuitive controls allow fast, very accurate adjustment. The central diffuser and five front outlets are round and very stylish with chrome outlines and ensure a high air output with even distribution throughout the passenger compartment.
The two drawers and numerous compartments in the side panels, console and central armrest complete an array of creature comforts designed specifically for a prestige car with a sporting heart. Last but not least, the seats are big, comfortable and enveloping and offer plenty of space, even at the back, while still leaving plenty of room for a capacious boot.
LIVELY, GENEROUS ENGINES
The throbbing engine beneath the bonnet of every Alfa Romeo has always determined the model's character more than any other part of the car. The six power units available with the New Alfa 166 all offer different characteristics: they include petrol, turbodiesel and a choice of four, five or six cylinders. Altogether they make up a comprehensive range able to meet the expectations of any customer. However perceptive and demanding.
Each of these different gems of automotive engineering is outstanding within its own category for technology, performance, reliability and environmental compatibility. First up, the brand new 129 kW (175 bhp) 2.4 JTD 5 cylinder Multijet 20v belongs to the latest generation of Common Rail power units, i.e. multivalve JTD engines with Multijet technology.
Next comes the 110 kW (150 bhp) 2.4 JTD 10v, also an expression of the most sophisticated turbodiesel technology. Due to its revolutionary Unijet injection system, the power unit is silent and offers outstanding performance combined with good fuel economy. Suffice it to say that a New Alfa 166 equipped with this engine can reach a top speed of 210 km/h without any increase in fuel consumption: over a combined cycle, for example, it uses just 7.2 l/100 km.
The 2.4 JTD 10v unit offers a cylinder capacity of 2387 cc and a 5 cylinder structure with two parallel, vertical valves per cylinder that are operated directly by a single overhead camshaft. It is equipped with a variable geometry turbocharger that succeeds perfectly in adjusting the turbine rotation speed - and hence turbo pressure - by altering the vane angle to speed up or slow down the gas flow rate. The result: the turbocharger is able to ensure maximum adaptability to different engine service conditions by exploiting exhaust gas energy to the full. Together with the intercooler, the turbocharger assures this power unit a high peak power (150 bhp - 110 kW at 4000 rpm), outstanding torque at low speeds (305 Nm at 1800 rpm) and great driving flexibility. As far as the driver is concerned, all this means great driving flexibility.
So much for the turbodiesels. Alfa Romeo is also in the vanguard when it comes to its petrol engines: all offer outstanding levels of power and torque despite miserly fuel consumption. The new model now also offers a powerful 176.5 kW (240 bhp) 3.2 V6 24 valve unit.
Tried and tested units from the previous model include the 150 bhp 2.0 TS, the 188 bhp 2.5 V6 24v and the 220 bhp 3.0 V6.
The 2.0 TS 16 valve engine is a showcase for Alfa Romeo's experience with Twin Spark technology. It comes with a variable geometry intake system that fills the cylinders with air optimally to ensure an outstanding response around town and on the motorway. The result is a powerful, flexible engine, as borne out by the high torque (181 Nm at 3800 rpm), 90 percent of which is available even before the engine reaches 2000 rpm. Maximum power is 110 kW (150 bhp) at 6300 rpm. When equipped with this engine, the new Alfa 166 reaches a top speed of 211 km/h and accelerates from 0 to 100 in 9.8 seconds.
The 2.5 and 3.0 V6 24 valve units, the outcome of cutting edge automotive engineering, offer an outstanding balance of top performance and flexible running. The 2.5 unit offers a cylinder capacity of 2492 cc with maximum power of 138 kW (188 bhp) and 221 Nm of torque. It is a capable of a top speed of 225 km/h and consumes 11.9 l/100 km, again over a combined cycle. The acceleration figures for this engine are also at the top of its category: it can speed from 0 to 100 km/h in just 8.4 seconds.
The New Alfa 166 complements this power unit with a 3.0 unit with a cylinder capacity of 2959 cc. A rating of 162 kW (220 bhp) makes this one of the most powerful in its category. It delivers a peak torque of 265 Nm at 5000 rpm and takes 8.6 seconds to speed from 0 to 100 km. Its speed is also one of the best in its category: 236 km/h.
Both power units feature a six cylinder 60 'V' configuration. The four valve per cylinder head contains a roofed combustion chamber and a central spark plug. The angle between valves is 37 degrees. Throttle opening is controlled by an electronic control unit without any mechanical connection between accelerator pedal and throttle body. Electronic engine management is assured by a Bosch Motronic ME 2.1 system.
The electronic throttle also assures fast catalytic converter activation when the engine is cold (the throttle opening is wider than requested by the accelerator) for improved emission control. Other engineering features adopted on the 2.5 and 3.0 V6 24 valve unit include:
- a no-return fuel feed system;
- a lubrication system that directs oil jets on the piston crown;
- an air-oil heat exchanger that heats up the oil and engine more rapidly after cold starts;
- static ignition with one coil per cylinder with dual knock control. The 3.0 V6 24 valve power unit is available only with automatic transmission. This takes the form of a 27 kgm torque Sportronic unit that adapts automatically to the driver's driving style and the type of route. It chooses the most effective gearshift strategies itself on the basis of these two parameters.
Now we will take a detailed look at the two new engines available on the Alfa Romeo flagship - and the brand new Aisin automatic transmission.
The 129 kW (175 bhp) 2.4 JTD Multijet 20v
We now welcome the powerful 5-cylinder 129 kW (175 bhp) 2.4 JTD Multijet 20v, the second engine in the JTD multivalve family with Multijet technology.
This brand-new unit offers various benefits. The engine is quieter as it warms up. The improvement can be quantified as a reduction of 3 to 6 decibels depending on engine speed and environmental temperature. Then, great power (175 bhp - 129 kW at 4000 rpm + 25 bhp compared to the 2.4 JTD 10 valve) and generous torque (385 Nm - 39.3 kgm at 2000 rpm against the 305 Nm at 1800 rpm of the 2.4 JTD 10v). The new unit also reduces emissions even though it is not fitted with sophisticated exhaust gas treatment devices.
The new engine is derived from the tried and tested 2.4 JTD 10 valve Common Rail unit and takes the form of a five cylinder in line unit with bore of 82 millimetres and stroke of 90.4 millimetres. The four valves per cylinder are driven directly by a twin overhead camshaft via hydraulic tappets and rocker arms. The new turbodiesel has undergone several engineering changes to increase performance and engine torque at low speeds and to reduce noise levels and vibration.
For example, the Common Rail system used on the 20 valve 2.4 JTD Multijet unit includes two new strategies for automatically calibrating and balancing the diesel injected to lower noise and reduce vibration. Certain engine components are brand new: a cylinder head with hydraulic tappets, steel connecting rods and crankshaft, a piston with an internal channel to carry cooling oil to the main and connecting rod bearings that are made out of different material to the previous unit. The exhaust and intake manifolds are also new: the former is made out of a special high-strength material while the latter is made out of pressure cast aluminium.
The electronically-controlled EGR system is cooled by exhaust gas. The lubrication circuit has a new oil pump and an external heat exhanger (air/oil) for cooling the oil. The cooling system is fitted with a different water pump. This long series of improvements and changes has created a reliable, powerful engine with low fuel consumption.
These results have been achieved by adopting a new engine setting, increasing the direct injection pressure from 1350 to 1400 bars and introducing a new turbocharger setting.
The power units are turbocharged via a Garrett turbocharger with variable geometry turbine that helps improve power delivery by allowing very high torque delivery even at low rpms. Suffice it to say that 90% of peak torque is available between 1750 and 3500 rpm. These data translate into great driving satisfaction and truly inspiring performance. The new Alfa 166 reaches 222 km/h and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.9 seconds. All this comes with very frugal fuel consumption: 7.5 l/100 km over a combined cycle, 9.9 over an urban cycle and 6.1 over an extraurban cycle. These outstanding results are achieved by pairing the 2.4 JTD Multijet 20v with a new 6-speed manual gearbox. The 3-axle device is more compact than the present one and presents synchronised reverse and a clutch with automatic wear take-up.
When fitted with an Aisin automatic transmission, the car returns a top speed of 218 km/h and acceleration of 8.9 seconds. Fuel consumption figures are 12.1 l/100 km over an urban cycle, 6.9 over an extraurban cycle and 8.9 over a combined cycle.
The Multijet system, secret of second generation JTD engines
The underlying principles of second generation turbodiesel engines remain the same, i.e. high injection pressure and electronic injector control. With one extra feature: during each engine cycle, the number of injections increases over and above the current number of two. In this way, the same amount of diesel is burnt inside the cylinder but in several portions to achieve smoother combustion.
The advantages include quieter running, a reduction in emissions and an increase of about 6-7% in performance, accompanied by a drive efficiency that improves driveability even further. These results are not to be underestimated, remembering that they are obtained with an engine that represents an incredible leap forward from prechamber diesels and even improves on first generation JTD engines.
The secret of the Multijet engine lies in the control unit that governs the electric injector opening and closing system (and also in the injectors themselves). The crucial element is indeed this very electronic control unit that can perform a set of injections that may be very closely spaced.
Fiat Auto's researchers developed the part (together with the injectors) especially for this application. It is designed to deliver the multiple injections that assure the designer more accurate control of pressures and temperatures developed inside the combustion chamber and also more efficient use of air taken into the cylinders.
This enables further goals to be achieved: quieter combustion reduced emissions and increased performance.
The Multijet system is underpinned by long years of research. Our engineers began by resolving the problem of limits imposed by the control units. Then they went on to map the benefits they could achieve by plotting different multiple injection sequences (two secondary injections very close to the main injection; one secondary injection not too close to the main injection plus two closely-spaced secondary injections; one secondary injection and then two main injections close together after a certain period etc.) against different engine service conditions: in the idling region; with low loads and low rpm; with high rpm and moderate load; with low rpm and high load etc.
The study revealed the potential of the system and showed that great benefits are achievable in all cases, though these tend to focus on one field or another according to the type of sequence chosen and the engine service area targeted. In some cases, for example, the priority is to reduce start-up times and fume levels, in other cases it is to increase torque and reduce noise while in others it is to reduce emissions and ensure a quieter drive.
And now this research strand has led to the creation of Multijet engines: another first for the Fiat Group in the diesel engine field. All this was possible because we have been building up know-how in this field since 1986, the date that marked the arrival of the Croma TDI, the first direct injection diesel vehicle in the world.
At that time, this represented a true engineering breakthrough that was later adopted by other manufacturers. Direct diesel injection engines offered better performance and lower fuel consumption but failed to resolve the problem of excessive engine noise at low rpms and while speeding up or slowing down. So work began on a more advanced direct injection system and a few years later this led to the development of the Common Rail principle and the Unijet system.
The idea first came from the Zurich University research laboratories where scientists were working on an injection system that had never before been applied to a vehicle, i.e. the Common Rail system. The idea is simple yet revolutionary. If you continue to push diesel into a tank, the pressure inside will rise and the tank itself will become a hydraulic accumulator (or rail), i.e. a reserve of pressurised fuel ready for use.
Three years later, in 1990, the Unijet system developed by Magneti Marelli, Fiat Research Centre and Elasis on the Common Rail principle entered the pre-production stage. This stage was complete in 1994, when Fiat Auto started to look for a partner with superlative knowledge of diesel engine injection systems. The final stage of the project, i.e. completion of development and industrial production, was eventually entrusted to Robert Bosch.
Now our story has reached 1997 and the launch date of the Alfa 156 JTD with its revolutionary turbodiesel engine. Compared to conventional diesel power units, the JTD guarantees an average improvement in performance of 12% together with a 15% reduction in fuel consumption. These results meant that cars fitted with the engine were an immediate hit.
Now the time is ripe for the second generation of JTD engines, the Multijet and multivalve units: in 2002 with the 1.9 JTD Multijet 16v (the forerunner of this new multiple injection family), today with the 129 kW (175 bhp) 2.4 JTD Multijet 20v.
3.2 V6 24 valve
The New Alfa 166 now offers a scorching 3.2 V6 24v. The 3.2 litre unit, derived from the 3.0 V6 24v that is fitted to the current flagship version, adapts perfectly to the new model to create a great luxury saloon with a uniform standard of roominess, comfort and performance.
This power unit is vigorous and, above all, turns as roundly as a six cylinder engine should. It is remarkable for its power output and flexibility. This unit unleashes a power output of 240 bhp (176.5 kW) at 6200 rpm with a maximum torque of no less than 289 Nm at 4800 rpm. All you need to achieve remarkable performance on demand, with a torque curve that reaches high levels at low speed.
The thing that makes the most difference is the painstaking work that our engineers put in to ensure that this power unit delivers the type of performance you expect from an Alfa Romeo. This refinement has been achieved through a myriad of tiny changes to obtain extremely smooth, gradual power delivery without jerkiness during application or release. All this makes for a much smoother drive.
Several parts have been revised to achieve this result: from the accelerator control to the injection and ignition times. One reason is to ensure that the increase in performance is never to the detriment of fuel consumption, because this is bound to respect ever more stringent rules.
Altogether, the New Alfa 166 3.2 V6 offers an outstandingly satisfying drive. Its top speed is 245 km/h; it takes 7.4 seconds to speed from 0 to 100 km/h. Over an urban cycle, it consumes 18.3 l/100 km, 9.1 over an extraurban cycle and 12.5 over a combined cycle.
When equipped with this power unit, the Alfa Romeo is the ideal car for customers who seek great performance but delivered with absolute smoothness. For people who do not like to be second to anyone, even on the road. For people capable of falling in love with a car for its good looks and luxury and for the unmistakable throb of its engine.
In detail, the 3.2 V6 24v features 6 cylinders in a 60° V with aluminium crankcase and cylinder head. The combustion chambers are roofed with a central spark plug while the valves are positioned at a tight angle (37°).
The engineers changed the crankshaft and pistons to increase the cylinder capacity to 3179 cc and lengthened the stroke to 78 millimetres. This change speaks volumes about the type of performance required because the power could simply have been increased by adjusting the timing, fuel system and electronics. The fact that cylinder capacity has been increased by lengthening the stroke means that the aim was not simply to obtain out-and-out performance coupled with high power and torque peaks but also an even, gradual power delivery from the lowest speeds. As befits a car capable of thrilling performance that is suited for driving on ordinary roads as well as on the track.
The increase in cylinder capacity is naturally accompanied by a whole set of changes. The intake ducts have been tuned, with a new valve gear timing setting. The injection system is also new. It takes the form of a Multipoint system with sequential injection, Bosch Motronic ME7 electronic management and no-return system with selective knock control.
The accelerator is drive by wire, i.e. with no mechanical links between the accelerator pedal and throttle. The throttle is electrically controlled by the engine management control unit. This solution brings benefits in terms of fuel consumption and emissions and also when it comes to driving satisfaction.
During cold starts, for example, the system reduces the warm-up period by activating the catalytic converter more quickly but does not impair torque and thus car handling during the first few minutes. Acceleration stages are also more effectively managed because the control unit can obtain information on the driver's requirements before imparting the command to the throttle. Speed can also be governed electronically by means of the Cruise Control system.
The 3.2 V6 24v is also fitted with a water-oil heat exchanger instead of an air-oil exchanger to heat the engine oil more quickly after cold starts.
Other attributes of this power unit include its low maintenance requirements. Suffice it to say that, apart from oil changes, the first service does not fall due for 100,000 km. This is due to certain engineering features such as spark plugs with twin platinum electrodes, hydraulic tappets and automatic tensioners for the timing belt and poly-v belt.
The 3.2 V6 24v engine is a lively performer and also clean. It comes with two trivalent preconverters built into the stainless steel exhaust pipe and a double converter beneath the floorplan complemented by four heated lambda sensors. The fuel system is no-return, i.e. the fuel does not return to the tank and it comes with a pressure regulation valve built into the fuel pump. This therefore helps to reduce evaporated fuel emissions.
Other important engineering features include: the piston crown oil jet lubrication system; static ignition with one coil per cylinder with dual knock control and a sensor for each engine block in the crankcase - and an effective oil pump driven by the crankshaft.
SOPHISTICATED, SILENT GEARBOXES
All the gearboxes fitted to the new model transmit engine power effectively to ensure uniform, precise road behaviour. They are also so easy and satisfying to use that any driver can handle a great saloon like the New Alfa 166 with ease and panache.
The 27 kgm Sportronic C.A.E. (Cambio Automatico Elettronico - electronic automatic transmission) is again fitted to the 3.0 V6 24 valve version. This innovative four-speed automatic transmission (electronically controlled) offers a choice between fully power-assisted self-adaptive management and manual mode. In the first case, the system analyses the way that the driver uses certain controls for a short period. Then it decides on the best gearshift sequence on the basis of this information (and also on car condition and route type). The transmission achieves this by comparing results obtained with certain algorithms present in its memory. When in manual mode, the Sportronic allows the driver to decide which gear to engage to ensure typical Alfa Romeo driving satisfaction.
The sophisticated new generation Aisin automatic transmission (5 speed) fitted to the 175 bhp 2.4 Multijet 20v engine deserves a section to itself.
The Aisin automatic transmission
Many aspects of the Aisin automatic transmission (fitted to New Alfa 166 cars with the powerful 2.4 JTD 20v engine) were tested under extreme conditions and using the device beyond the limits of normal service. The result is a gearbox capable of great comfort and also all the features that make it one of the most innovative in its segment.
First and foremost, the Alfa 166 automatic transmission offers 5 dual-purpose speeds. You can use the normal P, R, N and D positions when the lever is moved up in the gate. When in D position, however, all you have to do is move the lever to the left, into the areas marked 'plus' and 'minus' and the automatic device converts to a sequential manual gearbox with all the freedom that can offer, including the ability to set off in second or third when the car is driven over slippery ground.
The newest features offered by the device are to be found in the automatic part of the transmission. This sophisticated system:
- is integral with all the electronic car control systems and thus interacts with the VDC, ABS and the entire braking system as well as with the engine;
- is easy to manoeuvre because you do not have to press any buttons to move from one position to another;
- is safe because the fretted gate in which the lever moves prevents accidental gear engagement;
- is self-adaptive because it identifies the motorist's driving style in a few seconds and adapts its response to the habits of the person behind the wheel. The electronic control unit achieves this by using different gearshift software maps that offer a choice between an economical drive, a normal drive or a performance drive.
These basic attributes are joined by many other interesting functions. For example:
- at traffic lights the driver only has to touch the brake pedal lightly (and not depress it completely as he would on most other cars), because the automatic transmission on the New Alfa 166 incorporates 'Neutral control', which eliminates the typical creep when the car is stationary, thus enhancing driving comfort, and reducing vibration and consumption;
- if the driver brakes sharply, the control unit understands that he wishes to stop the car in the shortest possible distance, and it changes down to exploit the engine brake, just as he would do with a manual gearbox ('Braking' function);
- on 'difficult' corners (indicated by the different speeds of the inside and offside wheels) the system maintains the same ratio even if the driver asks for more power; this has the dual advantage of greater safety on the steered wheels and a faster exit from the bend, thanks to the generous torque reserve which lets the car change up straight away ('Cornering' function);
- on mountain roads the New Alfa 166 driver can relax and enjoy the absence of noise because, both up and downhill, the control unit of the automatic transmission adopts strategies (Up1 - Up2 - Down) that reduce the number of gear changes to guarantee greater comfort while enhancing downhill safety through the intervention of the engine brake;
- the flagship responds perfectly in all situations; on mixed routes, for example, when the accelerator is released fast, the system strategy ('Fast off') responds by maintaining the gear engaged instead of changing up, because it understands that it will soon be followed by pressure on the brake. When starting on snow-covered roads, or any road where grip is poor, the gearbox decides automatically to set off in second or third to exploit all available grip. It then continues to make gearshifts computed to guarantee maximum stability ('Low µ' function). When it stops, it may set off again in a higher ratio to avoid wheel slip;
- when the Alfa Romeo flagship is parked, it cannot be started or moved by an accidental manoeuvre (a curious child, an involuntary nudge with an elbow): the shift lock function ensures that the brake pedal must be pressed before the lever can be moved from position P to any other position;
- the system protects against any oversight: for example, it will prevent you taking the key out of the panel (key lock) if you forget to move the lever to P before leaving the car. And a set of acoustic signals indicates situations of possible danger: such as the case described above, or if reverse is engaged when the driver's door is opened with the engine running.
Driving satisfaction, travelling satisfaction. The former has always been one of Alfa Romeo's strengths and the latter is compulsory in a car with the character of an Alfa and the class of a great saloon. Simply climb aboard to see for yourself.
The New Alfa 166 is an upper-crust car and its personality shines through during any road test. The reasons? Because it is as comfortable and quiet as you would expect from a flagship - and its roadholding and stability are all you would expect from an Alfa Romeo. Other typical Alfa Romeo features include limited roll, sure-footed rear suspension support on corners and prompt, gradual steering.
The New Alfa 166 is also easy to drive because corrections made by the driver are accurately executed. A very direct steering wheel ratio ensures clean steering and makes the car a treat to drive. You never have to wrestle with your car. Quite the contrary: you can take every bend with style without taking your hands off the wheel.
The secret of this performance lies in sophisticated mechanical systems. In the case of the suspension, for example, a high double wishbone configuration at the front is combined with a multilink system at the rear. From a technical viewpoint, this means that the front tyres always work in an ideal manner in relation to the ground with uniform specific pressures over the entire contact area. The rear tyres are led along trajectories that allow them to turn without ever sliding to ensure maximum roadholding in all situations.
This kind of behaviour is naturally very important when it comes to active safety. When the New Alfa 166 needs to avoid a sudden obstacle, it makes the most of its attributes at the most crucial stages of the manoeuvre: the beginning and end. In the former case, by responding quickly (due above all to the front suspension) and offering maximum lateral grip. In the latter case, by realigning smoothly and intuitively. This action is aided by the small steering actions imposed by the rear suspension. The car's performance is aided by a braking system that is closer in structure, size and materials to that of a sports car than the braking systems of other models in the same segment.
It is easy to imagine the driving satisfaction afforded to aficionados by a car able to exploit the response of a truly outstanding suspension. The front suspension renders the car neutral and almost lacking in understeer so it can be directed exactly where the driver wishes. The rear configuration imposes a slight steering action on the rear wheel to address any bend smoothly and progressively.
The Alfa Romeo flagship combines the great driving comfort assured by the suspension with ultra-low noise levels and outstanding climate control because safety begins here: i.e. the ability to control the car with full mental and physical wellbeing. The New Alfa 166 is also fitted as standard with a fully automatic climate control system able to assure the best possible comfort and safety conditions. Passenger compartment temperature, humidity and ventilation can all affect the driver's level of awareness and wellbeing. And of course the heating and ventilation system is also responsible for demisting the windscreen and side windows. And there is more. The Alfa 166 system is also fitted with a temperature estimator that records internal and external temperature by means of certain sensors and assesses the sensation of thermal well-being experienced by passengers, i.e. the energy exchange between human body and passenger compartment that is affected by humidity, temperature and treated air flow.
Another sensor located in the middle of the windscreen base detects solar radiation striking the car. In other words, the sensor allows the system to prevent an excessive increase in temperature inside the car caused by the sun and thus to inform the climate control system in time.
All these parameters are monitored continuously and used to update the distribution, ventilation and mixing automatically. Outlet air temperature and fan speed can be adjusted to maintain the sensation of thermal wellbeing preset by the user in the passenger compartment. The result is a very constant interior temperature, even with significant changes in external conditions.
Each of these parameters may also be adjusted manually. Manual settings take precedence over the automatic system and are stored until the user cancels the command.
Particular attention has also been directed to the quality of the air that reaches the car interior through a two-layer filter. The first traps particles that measure more than 0.5 microns in diameter and pollen (that can cause allergic reactions). The second active carbon filter reduces polluting substances and absorbs unpleasant smells.
The recirculation function is activated automatically when the passenger compartment temperature has to be reduced quickly. It may also be activated manually to prevent unclean air entering when the car is in queues or driving through a tunnel.
The 2.4 JTD version may even be equipped with an additional 5 kW heater to increase comfort in winter. The device begins to operate when the car is started up when exterior temperature and engine coolant temperature drop below a certain level. The device speeds up passenger compartment heating and allows the engine to reach the correct heat more quickly.
A BROAD AND DIVERSE RANGE
The New Alfa 166 range is made up of three comprehensive specifications that offer great value for money: the new Impression, Progression and Distinctive packages. The product retains all the exuberant performance and sophisticated engineering one expects from a motorsport brand such as Alfa Romeo even though the on-board comfort and elegant specifications are those of a large top-class saloon. A New Alfa 166 TI option pack is also available with low ride set-up for a more entertaining drive with better handling.
First and foremost, all versions are fitted as standard with major devices such as: active sensor ABS with electronic brakeforce distributor; driver and passenger airbag; electronic seat-belt pretensioners; adjustable head-restraint; fire prevention system and an ALFA CODE II antitheft system.
Other equipment designed to ease life on board that is common to all the New Alfa 166s includes: an automatic climate control system, sound system with built-in radio and a trip computer to record the main trip parameters (fuel consumption, distance from destination, range etc.) that are governed by an ICS system with 5" colour screen. Other features include airbags (front, side and windowbags), electric windows on all four doors, electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors, remote central locking, foglight and armrest between the adjustable front seats, complete with storage compartment.
Of course, all versions may be customised with a host of options from a range specially designed to increase the safety and comfort of the New Alfa 166 and to make its style even more distinctive. These include VDC and bi-Xenon headlights. As far as comfort is concerned, the New Alfa 166 may be fitted with the following options: electric heated tilting front seats, photochromatic interior mirror and electrically-operated fold-down door mirrors, electric sunroof and windscreen heated in the wiper area. The integrated ICS system that controls the climate system, radio and trip computer (all standard) may be complemented by a satellite navigation system with maps and voice guide, GSM phone with handsfree kit and Hi-Fi system with 10 speakers, DSP digital amplifier and CD-changer. The 2.4 JTD also comes with a supplementary heater.
New Alfa 166 customers can also choose between three different interior environments: classic, elegant or sport. The former features shades of grey while the latter is based on bright shades of beige. Customers who wish to emphasise the sporty temperament of their New Alfa 166 can choose a configuration that combines black (seats, facia and doors panels) and grey (mats and console panel). Three alternatives of great personality that convey sensations pleasing to the touch and sight through a clever choice of colours and materials. In particular, the Impression and Progression versions offer cloth trim while it is leather on the Distinctive. Customers can also choose from four different types of facia according to version and trim level: a black 'sports' facia, an 'elegant' facia in shades of beige and a 'classic' facia in shades of grey. The facia on the Impression specification comes in black.
A specific exclusive top quality trim is also available as an option. This takes the form of full-grained leather available in three different shades (black, grey and beige) combined with a facia that is also in beige and in the same three shades but with darker overtones. The product is finished in top-stitching that contrasts with the trim shade and represents the very best of traditional Italian craftsmanship.
There follows a description of the new features adopted on the New Alfa 166. These extras will complement the numerous systems and devices already present on the previous model.
Excellent visibility at all times, including in the dark, is an important preventive safety factor. The New Alfa 166 is therefore fitted as standard with innovative dual 'bi-Xenon' headlights that, as the name suggests, generate high and low beams from a single xenon bulb. These devices are produced in conjunction with Valeo, a leading European company, and offer the best possible light quality and excellent efficiency under all atmospheric conditions.
In a gas discharge bulb, the usual internal filament is replaced by two electrodes spaced a few millimetres apart. These generate a voltaic discharge in an environment saturated with low-pressure xenon gas. These headlights are so technically complex that they require an electronic control unit on each headlight for general function control and to control supply voltage.
The light produced is projected onto the road through a glass lens with a spherical area measuring 70 mm in diameter. A mobile panel then distributes the light and differentiates between high and low beams: in the first case, the panel rises to create the light-dark effect typical of dipped beams. When the main beams are turned on, the panel lowers in fractions of a second to unleash the headlight's full lighting power. The benefits over normal halogen headlights are easy to enumerate: light intensity doubles (from 1500 to 3000 lumens); efficiency increases from 25 to 85 lumen per Watt and hours of duration also increase (from 1500 to 3000). Bi-Xenon headlights also consume 35 per cent energy less than halogen headlights and distribute the light beam more effectively. Because they emit a shade that is closer to white light, they also ensure improved visibility even though the level of illumination remains the same.
Due to the improved performance offered by the system (brighter light and greater depth), bi-Xenon headlights are combined with an automatic ride corrector that performs two functions. It avoids dazzling the drivers of oncoming cars while maintaining a constant lit area to ensure greater driving comfort. The device cuts in automatically to compensate for static car changes (due to changing load on the axles) and also dynamic changes (caused by acceleration and braking). This result is guaranteed by sensors on the front and rear suspension that continually read body movements to detect acceleration or braking movements. This allows yawing to be predicted so that ride control can cut in.
The headlights are also equipped with headlight washers with telescopic nozzles built into the bumpers.
These airbags are fitted as standard on all versions and drop down along the windows to safeguard the passengers' heads in the front seats in the case of side impact. Compared to other solutions, the window-bags adopted on the New Alfa 166 are more protective (because they always take up the correct position), faster to inflate and less invasive for passengers. They open from top to bottom and do not involve a risk of secondary damage to occupants' arms.
Two bags (one on the right and the other on the left) are located under the roof rails where they are folded into a closed compartment. At the appropriate moment, the covering bends open to allow the bags to expand and drop downward.
Electric central locking
All versions of the New Alfa 166 are equipped with a central locking device that locks all the doors. When the customer activates this option, the system automatically locks the doors and boot when the car exceeds 20 km/h. Passengers inside can always get out by operating the handles but when the car is stationary at traffic lights, anyone who is up to no good is shut out and cannot open the boot. To let your friends in, all you have to do is press a central lock-release key located on the armest.
Follow me home
Getting in and out of the New Alfa 166 is easy even by night in poorly lit areas. To simplify this operation, the new model is equipped with a delayed headlight deactivation function (follow-me-home function). The aim is to make the motorist's life easier. The device keeps the dipped beams and side lights on for a while even with the engine off and ignition key out. These few minutes are all you need to see the garage door or garden gate in the dark. After this period, the headlights go off - automatically of course.
The follow me home device is turned on by operating the light flasher stalk within 2 minutes of turning off the engine. Each time the stalk is operated, light activation is extended for 30 seconds up to a maximum of three and a half minutes.
Sound system and radio controls on the steering wheel
The radio - standard throughout the range - can store up to 24 stations. It comes with a device that adjusts volume and bass/treble mix according to car speed and also a RDS (Radio Data System). This device offers traffic news throughout the trip and also cuts out interference by means of imperceptible frequency changes. By means of automatic screening (auto best), the receiver continually searches the available frequencies to find the best ones for the set programme and begins a new selection when reception quality worsens. The aerial is built into the back window, the tape player offers autoreverse and the package can also include an optional CD-changer for six CDs.
The basic radio may be replaced by a Hi-Fi system with separate digital amplifier and 10 speakers (two are subwoofers) that offer a warmer sound and better sound quality. Apart from the CD-changer, the Hi-Fi is equipped with a device that automatically corrects equalisation according to vehicle speed. The motorist can also choose special effects or adjust and save personal sound settings. Another option takes the form of electric radio controls on the three-spoke steering wheel.
TI stands for Turismo Internazionale, the acronym that Alfa Romeo used to assign only to its out-and-out sports models. Such cars were derived from standard production models that underwent styling changes and mechanical changes to create thoroughbred sports cars that could still be driven on ordinary roads. Today those two simple yet glorious letters are making a comeback on the New Alfa Romeo 166. The code stands for a sports kit available on the Alfa Romeo range that guarantees quality and is evidence that changes have been made in the factory.
The New 166 TI is targeted at motorsport aficionados and features a low ride that offers greater driving satisfaction and more handling. In other words, the dynamic behaviour of a car that spices your everyday driving experience with racetrack sensation.
All in all, a car for those who demand the very best when it comes to sportiness. And want it to be known without ostentation. Hence the styling decision not to change the exterior shape of the standard production cars too radically but limit the changes to a few features. This is why, from the outside, the cars are still recognisable but simply look meaner with a more vice-like grip on the road. Apart from the exterior logo, this version is also identifiable for its exclusive alloy wheels (235/40-18"). Inside, the TI environment is identifiable by seats upholstered in black leather with an embroidered Alfa Romeo logo. The TI logo on the aluminium sill plate and the red button and instrument panel lighting present the same sporty imprint.
The Alfa Romeo range leader thus joins the 156, Sportwagon and 147 models to form part of the TI family. Cars that thrill and give authentic driving gratification in everyday use. Cars that represent the purest distillate of brand values and are the ambassadors of that particular form of elegant sportiness that has made them famous the world over. The new TI kit is the right choice for customers who want to enter the sporting world of Alfa Romeo where the topmost rung is occupied by the GTA family: Italian-style on-road vehicles, powerful and safe with cutting-edge technology to assure maximum satisfaction and peak driving control at all times.
Story by Alfa Romeo Edited by Maximum-Cars.com