10 March 2005

The Alfa Romeo stand at Geneva was constantly busy on press day, with the crucial new replacements for the 156 and GTV attracting plenty of attention. The Italians have been cautious with the look of the 159, the replacement for the successful 156 saloon, employing evolutionary styling to create an attractive rival for the BMW 3-series.

The engine range will be topped by a new GM-sourced 240bhp 3.2-litre V6 developed by Australian car maker Holden. The rest of the engine line-up comprises 160bhp 1.9- and 185bhp 2.2-litre petrol units, and 1.9-litre diesels in 8v 120bhp and 16v 150bhp form, as well as a 2.4-litre 200bhp oil-burner.

Maserati chief exec Karl-Heinz Kalbfell told Autocar that the 159’s body is ‘solid, like a rock’ and that it’s stiff enough to take it straight to the top of the class. That stiffness eases suspension tuning, and Kalbfell claims the 159 has particularly precise steering and good brakes.

The 159’s wheelbase is 105mm longer than its predecessor, and the car is 219mm longer, 85mm wider but 13mm lower than the 156 at 4441mm, 1743mm and 1430mm respectively.

The 2+2 Brera Coupé was first previewed as a concept car at the 2003 Geneva show, and uses the 159’s top-end engines, which means the 2.2 and 3.2 petrol, and the 2.4 JTD diesel. Wider, lower and slightly shorter than the 159, the Brera was, like its sibling, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. Like the 159, the Brera has four-wheel-drive capability, which is likely to be offered on the biggest engines. Both cars are due in the UK late this year.

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