Alfa Romeo 156

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Alfa Romeo 156
Alfa 156 grey.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer Alfa Romeo
Production 1997-2007
Assembly Pomigliano d'Arco, Italy[1]
Rayong, Thailand[2]
Designer Walter de'Silva at Centro Stile Alfa Romeo
Giorgetto Giugiaro (2003)
Body and chassis
Class Compact executive car
Body style 4-door saloon
5-door estate
Layout Front-engine, front-wheel-drive / four-wheel-drive (estate)
Related Alfa Romeo GT
Alfa Romeo 147
Powertrain
Engine 1.6 L I4 16V (TS) petrol
1.8 L I4 16V (TS) petrol
2.0 L I4 16V (TS) petrol
2.0 L I4 16V (JTS) petrol
2.5 L V6 24V petrol
3.2 L V6 24V petrol
1.9 L I4 t/c diesel (JTD)
2.4 L I5 t/c diesel (JTD)
Transmission 5-speed manual
6-speed manual
5-speed semi-auto (Selespeed)
6-speed semi-auto (Selespeed)
4-speed automatic (Q-System)[3]
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,595 mm (102.2 in)
Length 4,430 mm (174.4 in)
4,441 mm (174.8 in) (Sportwagon Q4)
4,441 mm (174.8 in) (Crosswagon Q4)
Width 1,745 mm (68.7 in)
1,765 mm (69.5 in) (Crosswagon Q4)
Height 1,415 mm (55.7 in)
1,430 mm (56.3 in) (Sportwagon)
1,458 mm (57.4 in) (Sportwagon Q4)
1,497 mm (58.9 in) (Crosswagon Q4)
Curb weight 1,230–1,530 kg (2,712–3,373 lb)
Chronology
Predecessor Alfa Romeo 155
Successor Alfa Romeo 159

The Alfa Romeo 156 (Type 932) is a compact executive car produced by the Italian automaker Alfa Romeo from 1997 to 2007 (Q4 Crosswagon was produced to the end of 2007, the 156 saloon was discontinued late in 2005 in Europe). It was introduced at the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show[4] as the replacement for the Alfa Romeo 155. Cars were assembled at Fiat Group factory in Pomigliano d'Arco, Italy and General Motors facility in Rayong, Thailand (production in Thailand started March 2002 and lasted couple of years, cars were targeted for Asia Pacific markets[5]). Between 1997 and 2005, 680,000 156s were produced,[6] a huge success for the brand.

The 156 was available in both saloon and estate 'Sportwagon' bodystyles with seven engine configurations and it went through two facelifts, first in 2002 and second in 2003. The Sportwagon advertising campaign was made with actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.[7]

The 156 saloon was discontinued late in 2005 in Europe, the four-wheel drive Q4 Crosswagon was produced to the end of 2007.[8][9] The 156 was replaced with 159, which also spawned the Brera, the two door coupe that replaces the Alfa Romeo GTV along with its convertible sister the new Spider. The 156 won the 1998 European Car of the Year award[10]

Development[edit]

At the beginning the engine range encompassed four cylinder Twin Spark (1.6 L 120 PS (88 kW), 1.8 L 144 PS (106 kW) and 2.0 L 155 PS (114 kW)) 16 valve engines with variable valve timing, along with the straight-4 1.9 litre 8-valve 105 PS (77 kW) and straight-5 2.4 litre 10-valve 136 PS (100 kW) JTD common rail turbodiesel engines. Until January 2002, the range-topping engine was the venerable double overhead camshaft 2.5 litre 24-valve Alfa Romeo V6 engine rated at 190 PS (140 kW).

Initially the 156 range was available with different options (packs) like a sport pack that could include either Blitz clothing, Momo leather interior or Recaro seats, it also included 16-inch (410 mm) wheels, lowered suspension and leather steering wheel and gear knob. There was also available Lusso pack with Momo's mahogany steering wheel and gear knob and for Nordic countries special winter pack consisting of fog lights, headlight washers and heated seats.[1]

156 Sportwagon

Starting from 1999 five-speed Selespeed sequential transmission came as an option to 2.0 litre Twin Spark version and four-speed automatic Q-System to 2.5 litre V6 version,[11] the Q-system can be used as normal automatic or shift manually with H-pattern,[3] it has three automatic modes: city, sport and ice.

A significant addition to the 156 range was the Sportwagon estate in 2000, a first attempt at an estate car of this size for the company. Sportwagon was also available with Boge-Nivomat self-levelling hydropneumatic rear suspension.[12] The Sportwagon was marketed as lifestyle estate without large carrying capacity.[13] The Sportwagon bodystyle filled a gap in the market that Alfa Romeo had distanced themselves from since the 33 SportWagon of the 1980s.

In 2001 engines were upgraded, engines complied with Euro3 norm and outputed 120 PS (88 kW) (1.6 L), 140 PS (100 kW) (1.8 L), 150 PS (110 kW) (2.0 L) and 192 PS (141 kW) (2.5 L).

Exterior styling[edit]

The 156 was designed by Alfa Centro Stile under control of head designer Walter de'Silva.[14] Its distinctive style included high curved flanks, retro styled front door handles, hidden rear door handles, and a dramatic deep grille, which necessitated a highly unusual off-centre licence plate holder. The car was one of the first saloons to feature hidden rear door handles and prominent front door handles to give it a coupé look. The design was influenced by three historical Alfa Romeo models: the 1900, the Giulietta and the Giulia.[15] The 156 achieved a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.31.[1]

Interior styling[edit]

Interior of the first series facelift (2002)
Interior of the first series facelift (2002)
Interior of the first series facelift (2002)

The 1998 original interior builds on a benchmark set by Alfa Romeo in their previously released Alfa Romeo 166, with a deeply scalloped upper dashboard and simple centre console. All of the main controls and displays are angled towards the driver in typical Italian sports car style, although this can sometimes be awkward for passengers who will struggle to see the interior clock. Despite being a family car, the interior design lacks cup holders, which normally come standard in saloons. Typically, for a smaller executive car, there is ample room up front for the driver and passenger to sit comfortably, with very comfortable seats. However, rear seat passengers may find the design restrictive in overall room. The 156 is a car for four people, rather than five, although later models did add a full centre seatbelt in place of the lap belt in earlier models.

2002 saw an update to both the interior and exterior of the 156.

Platform and suspension[edit]

The 156 uses a platform derived from the Alfa Romeo 155, which in turn was derived from the Fiat Group's "Tipo" platform. However it is sufficiently different from the original "Tipo" one to be seen as a new platform.[16][17] The 156 is a highly developed front-wheel drive car; (the Cross/Sportwagon Q4 offered four-wheel drive in left-hand drive markets) with a double high wishbone front suspension and MacPherson strut system rear suspension,[1] which consists of a telescopic vertical strut with coaxial spring and two transverse links of different lengths and a longitudinal strut. This structure means that the rear wheels have a tiny passive steering ability.[12] Weight saving material (aluminium) has been used in several parts both front and rear suspension. The weight saving materials were also used in many other parts like magnesium framed front seats.[18]

Facelifts[edit]

2002 facelift (first series)[edit]

External images
First series dashboard
2002 facelift dashboard
2003 facelift dashboard

2002 also saw the arrival of a facelifted interior with different matte-finish surfacing and chrome highlights. New version used the 147's dual-zone digital climate control, the interior climate could also be controlled via air quality sensor.[19] A different choice of colours were available for the interior, with the option of a two-tone interior very much like that BMW were introducing at the time. A wider range of options including xenon lighting, tele-informatics (CONNECT and CONNECT NAV) and a Bose stereo system were available, the stereo system could now also be operated via buttons on the steering wheel. Also the Selespeed gearbox control system was updated, buttons at steering wheel were replaced by paddle shifters, like seen earlier on the Alfa Romeo 147. In the center console was added multifunctional display with trip computer, fault and service monitor. Also electronic stability control VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) with an emergency brake assist device and slip control ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) came as standard. Also a MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung) was added to the car, this device prevents wheel skidding by restoring torque to the engine for example when the gear is shifted down abruptly under conditions of low grip. Passive safety was also made better, all versions got window airbags as standard. The 2.0 L JTS 165 PS (121 kW) gasoline direct injection engine replaced the 2.0 litre Twin Spark engine, offering more low end torque and more power than the Twin Spark, diesel engines were also uprated. Only notable difference exterior-wise was body coloured mirrors and bumper strips which were earlier black.

2003 facelift (second series)[edit]

Late 2003 saw the launch of a facelifted 156, with new front and rear fascias designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro.[20] To the top of range was added new TI trim level (Turismo Internazionale) designating a sporty kit, this version was equipped with modified suspension, bigger wheels (215/45 17") and leather-trimmed interior. This mid-life facelift divided opinion with some preferring the prettier pre-facelift look with others singing the praises of the newer more aggressive demeanour of the latter models. The GTA models never received the exterior update. Diesel engines underwent a major re-working, new four valve per cylinder heads were added, second stage common rail injection with 1400 bar maximum injection pressure with up to five injections per cycle for lower noise, consumption and higher performance. They were rated at 140/150 PS (103/110 kW) for straight-4 1.9 litre 16-valve and 175 PS (129 kW) for straight-5 2.4 litre 20-valve.

Original version (black mirrors and bumper strips)
Original version (black mirrors and bumper strips)
2002 facelift version (body colored mirrors and bumper strips)
2002 facelift version (body colored mirrors and bumper strips)
New front in second series (2003) Sportwagon
New front in second series (2003) Sportwagon
Rear end in 2002 facelift version
Rear end in 2002 facelift version
New rear end in second series (2003)
New rear end in second series (2003)

2004 Q4 variants[edit]

156 Crosswagon Q4
External images
Sportwagon Q4

In 2004, Q4 (short for Quadrifoglio 4) four-wheel drive versions arrived to some markets, which were known as the Crosswagon Q4 and Sportwagon Q4 (both using the 1.9 L 150 PS (110 kW) JTD diesel engine).

These cars were equipped with a Torsen C four-wheel drive system and raised ride heights (Crosswagon height: 1,497 mm (58.9 in), Sportwagon 1,458 mm (57.4 in)).[21] The Crosswagon version was made to look more like all-terrain vehicle; door sill aluminium protection, front and rear bumpers were equipped with aluminium inserts. The Sportwagon Q4 was a normal looking version with just slightly higher ground clearance than the front wheel drive Sportwagon.

The Sportwagon Q4 was only available in LHD markets, with no RHD models being built or sold.

GTA version[edit]

In September 2001, the 156 GTA and Sportwagon GTA were launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The GTA was named after the Alfa Romeo GTA from the 1960s, the letters GTA meaning Gran Turismo Alleggerita (English: lightened Grand Tourer). Even though the name suggests a light car, the GTA isn't any lighter than base 156. It was actually 91 kilograms (201 lb) heavier than 2.5 litre V6 engined version.[22] 2,973 berlinas and 1,678 SWs were built.

With its 3.2 litre engine its easy to get very varying fuel consumption figures, the EC urban fuel consumption is 15.6 miles per imperial gallon (18.1 L/100 km; 13.0 mpg-US) and combined 23.3 mpg-imp (12.1 L/100 km; 19.4 mpg-US), extra-urban consumption is 32.8 mpg-imp (8.6 L/100 km; 27.3 mpg-US).[23]

156 GTA

The very first GTA was sold on-line auction from September 13 to 23, the duration of the Frankfurt Motor Show. Winning bid was 48,691.26 euros, which was donated to "Telethon" charity fund.[24] Equipped with a 3.2 litre V6 with six-speed manual transmission or six-speed Selespeed (paddles in steering wheel, hydraulically operated clutchless manual gearbox), the GTA variants were aimed at the performance market. The GTA variants boasted 250 PS (180 kW), had a lowered and stiffened suspension, a distinctive body kit and leather interior. The suspension was specifically made for the GTA by Fiat Research Centre and Fiat Auto Design and Development Department.[19] Steering was also made faster, only 1.7 turns from lock to lock compared to 2.1 in normal models. The GTA had also much bigger brakes (Brembo), at front 305 millimetres (12 in) discs and rear 276 millimetres (10.8 in). The front discs were later updated to 330 millimetres (13 in). The GTA subsequently stopped production in October 2005 citing the upcoming replacement to the 156, the Alfa Romeo 159.

Model timeline[edit]

Engines[edit]

The 156 offered various engines and power levels during its lifespan, four and six cylinder petrol engines and four and five cylinder diesel engines, all produced at Pratola Serra except the V6 engine, which was produced at Alfa Romeo's Arese plant.[1][25][26][27][28] The 1.9 JTD diesel was world's first common rail diesel engine in a passenger car.[29]

1.6 L Twin Spark (TS) engine
1.6 L Twin Spark (TS) engine
2.0 L JTS engine
2.0 L JTS engine
2.5 L V6 engine
2.5 L V6 engine

Specifications[edit]

Model Layout Displacement Valves Max. power output Peak torque 0–100 km/h
0–62 mph
Top speed Years Note
Petrol engines
1.6 TS I4 TS 1,598 cc (97.5 cu in) 16 DOHC VVT 120 PS (88 kW; 118 hp) at 6,300 rpm 144 N·m (106 lb·ft) at 4,500 rpm 10.5 s 200 km/h (124 mph) 1997–2006
1.8 TS I4 TS 1,747 cc (106.6 cu in) 16 DOHC VVT VLIM 144 PS (106 kW; 142 hp) at 6,500 rpm 169 N·m (125 lb·ft) at 3,500 rpm 9.3 s 210 km/h (130 mph) 1997–2000 Euro2
1.8 TS I4 TS 1,747 cc (106.6 cu in) 16 DOHC VVT VLIM 140 PS (103 kW; 138 hp) at 6,500 rpm 163 N·m (120 lb·ft) at 3,900 rpm 9.4 s 208 km/h (129 mph) 2001–2006 Euro3
2.0 TS I4 2BS TS 1,970 cc (120 cu in) 16 DOHC VVT VLIM 155 PS (114 kW; 153 hp) at 6,400 rpm 187 N·m (138 lb·ft) at 3,500 rpm 8.6 s 216 km/h (134 mph) 1997–2000 Euro2
2.0 TS I4 2BS TS 1,970 cc (120 cu in) 16 DOHC VVT VLIM 150 PS (110 kW; 148 hp) at 6,300 rpm 181 N·m (133 lb·ft) at 3,800 rpm 8.8 s 214 km/h (133 mph) 2001–2002 Euro3
2.0 JTS I4 2BS DI 1,970 cc (120 cu in) 16 DOHC VVT VLIM 165 PS (121 kW; 163 hp) at 6,400 rpm 206 N·m (152 lb·ft) at 3,250 rpm 8.2 s 220 km/h (137 mph) 2002–2006 Facelift
2.5 Q-System V6 2,492 cc (152.1 cu in) 24 DOHC 190 PS (140 kW; 187 hp) at 6,300 rpm 222 N·m (164 lb·ft) at 5,000 rpm 8.5 s 227 km/h (141 mph) 1997–2000 Euro2
2.5 Q-System V6 2,492 cc (152.1 cu in) 24 DOHC 192 PS (141 kW; 189 hp) at 6,300 rpm 218 N·m (161 lb·ft) at 5,000 rpm 8.5 s 227 km/h (141 mph) 2001–2006 Euro3
2.5 V6 V6 2,492 cc (152.1 cu in) 24 DOHC 190 PS (140 kW; 187 hp) at 6,300 rpm 222 N·m (164 lb·ft) at 5,000 rpm 7.3 s 230 km/h (143 mph) 1997–2000 Euro2
2.5 V6 V6 2,492 cc (152.1 cu in) 24 DOHC 192 PS (141 kW; 189 hp) at 6,300 rpm 218 N·m (161 lb·ft) at 5,000 rpm 7.3 s 230 km/h (143 mph) 2001–2006 Euro3
3.2 GTA V6 3,179 cc (194.0 cu in) 24 DOHC 250 PS (184 kW; 247 hp) at 6,200 rpm 300 N·m (221 lb·ft) at 4,800 rpm 6.3 s 250 km/h (155 mph) 2002–2005 Euro3
Note: 2.0 TS, 2.0 JTS and GTA Selespeed versions have same performance statistics as manual transmission.
Diesel engines
1.9 JTD I4 1,910 cc (117 cu in) 8 SOHC 105 PS (77 kW; 104 hp) at 4,000 rpm 255 N·m (188 lb·ft) at 2,000 rpm 10.4 s 188 km/h (117 mph) 1997–2000
1.9 JTD I4 1,910 cc (117 cu in) 8 SOHC 110 PS (81 kW; 108 hp) at 4,000 rpm 275 N·m (203 lb·ft) at 2,000 rpm 10.3 s 191 km/h (119 mph) 2001
1.9 JTD I4 1,910 cc (117 cu in) 8 SOHC 115 PS (85 kW; 113 hp) at 4,000 rpm 275 N·m (203 lb·ft) at 2,000 rpm 10.3 s 191 km/h (119 mph) 2002 Facelift
1.9 M-Jet I4 1,910 cc (117 cu in) 16 DOHC 140 PS (103 kW; 138 hp) at 4,000 rpm 305 N·m (225 lb·ft) at 2,000 rpm 9.3 s 209 km/h (130 mph) 2003
1.9 M-Jet I4 1,910 cc (117 cu in) 16 DOHC 150 PS (110 kW; 148 hp) at 4,000 rpm 305 N·m (225 lb·ft) at 2,000 rpm 9.1 s 212 km/h (132 mph) 2003 (*)
2.4 JTD I5 2,387 cc (145.7 cu in) 10 SOHC 136 PS (100 kW; 134 hp) at 4,200 rpm 310 N·m (229 lb·ft) at 2,000 rpm 9.5 s 203 km/h (126 mph) 1997–2000
2.4 JTD I5 2,387 cc (145.7 cu in) 10 SOHC 140 PS (103 kW; 138 hp) at 4,000 rpm 304 N·m (224 lb·ft) at 1,800 rpm 9.4 s 205 km/h (127 mph) Oct - 2000
2.4 JTD I5 2,387 cc (145.7 cu in) 10 SOHC 150 PS (110 kW; 148 hp) at 4,000 rpm 305 N·m (225 lb·ft) at 1,800 rpm 9.4 s 212 km/h (132 mph) 2002–2007 Facelift
2.4 M-Jet I5 2,387 cc (145.7 cu in) 20 DOHC 175 PS (129 kW; 173 hp) at 4,000 rpm 385 N·m (284 lb·ft) at 2,000 rpm 8.3 s 225 km/h (140 mph) 2003–2006 Second facelift
Note (*): Crosswagon Q4 topspeed is 192 km/h (119 mph) and acceleration 0–100 km/h (62,5 mph) is 10.5 seconds, for Sportwagon Q4 numbers are 200 km/h (124 mph) and 10.2 seconds.

Special versions[edit]

External images
156 GTAm
156 Sportwagon GTA 3.5 Autodelta

Alfa Romeo 156 GTAm[edit]

The Alfa Romeo 156 GTAm was shown at Bologna Motor Show in December 2002. The car was built by Fiat Group's partner N.Technology. The GTA 3,179 cc (3.2 L; 194.0 cu in) engine was bored to 3,548 cc (3.5 L; 216.5 cu in) and power pushed to 300 PS (220 kW).[30] The car had widened wheel arches, 19 inch tyres and was equipped with N.Technology limited slip differential. This car never reached production phase.

Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon GTA 3.5 Autodelta[edit]

At the 2004 Geneva Motor Show was unveiled Autodelta (Italian company) built 156 Sportwagon prototype equipped with a 3,548 cc (3.5 L; 216.5 cu in) V6 engine that develops 300 brake horsepower (220 kW) at 6800 rpm.[31] The car was fitted with Bilstein adjustable shock absorbers and Eibach springs. The Brembo made front brakes had a diameter of 330 millimetres (13 in). The car was made lighter by using composite material to the bonnet.[32]

Autodelta 156 GTA 3.7 V6[edit]

Supercharged Autodelta 156 GTA.

London (United Kingdom) based aftermarket tuning company Autodelta made also two high performance versions based on 156 GTA, in GTA AM version Alfa Romeo V6 engine was bored to 3,750 cc (3.8 L; 228.8 cu in), which was capable to push 328 PS (241 kW) at 7300 rpm. With this power car can reach top speed of 280 kilometres per hour (175 mph). The other one GTA AM Super was "upgrade" to the first version, now fitted with Rotrex supercharger and pushing out 400 PS (290 kW).[33]

Awards[edit]

In 1998, an international jury of 56 journalists (40 of whom voted for the 156) representing 21 countries awarded the Alfa 156 the European Car of the Year award;[10] it was described as having a "very refined suspension layout so to offer an impeccable roadholding".[34] The 2.5 V6 engine was awarded with the International Engine of the Year award in 2000.[35] The 156 has won more than 35 awards,[36] including:

  • Technical Innovation Award - Common Rail 1998 - (Autocar - Great Britain)
  • Best Compact Executive 1998 - (What Car? - Great Britain)
  • Best Compact Executive Car 1998 - (Auto Express - Great Britain)
  • Die Besten Autos 1998, Paul Pietsch Preis - Innovation prize for Common Rail, (Auto, Motor und Sport - Germany)
  • Auto 1 Europa 1998 - (Panel of engineers, drivers and journalists from the 11 European magazines headed by Auto Bild)
  • Auto Trophy 1998 - (Auto Zeitung - Germany)
  • Trophee Du Design 1998 - (Automobile Magazine - France)
  • European Award for Automotive Design in Belgium 1998
  • Car of the Year in Denmark, Spain, Holland, Luxembourg, Germany, Portugal, France and Croatia 1998
  • Car of the Year in South Africa 1999 (South African Guild of Motoring Journalists)[37]
  • Prix de l’Innovation Technique pour le Common Rail 1997 (France)
  • L’automobile più bella del mondo ("The most beautiful car in the world") in Italy 1997

Motorsport[edit]

Alfa Romeo 156, driven by N.Technology driver James Thompson, during the 2007 WTCC round at Curitiba.
David Pinkney driving an Alfa Romeo 156 at the Snetterton round of the 2007 British Touring Car Championship.
Mattias Andersson driving an Alfa Romeo 156 at the Mantorp round of the 2009 Swedish Touring Car Championship.

The Alfa Romeo 156 was as well vested in motorsport as its predecessor, the 155. It ran in the British Touring Car Championship as well as various European championships, most notably the WTCC and formerly the ETCC where it was especially successful. The 156 sports car program was run by Fiat Group's partner N.Technology S.p.A., originally founded as Nordauto Squadra Corse to compete in Italian Touring Car Championship. In 1994 name was changed to Nordauto Engineering and 2001 to N.Technology.[38] In 1998 Alfa Romeo also offered for sale the 156 Group N version for the track.[11] The 156 Group N had no carpets, seats or upholstery, but included additional track safety devices. The 156 has won the following titles:

The Alfa Romeo straight-4 Twin Spark racing engine used in 156 in European Touring Car Championship.

Specifications for touring car versions:

Model Displacement Max. power output
Alfa Romeo 156 D2 1,997 cc (121.9 cu in) 310 PS (228 kW; 306 hp) at 8200 rpm
Alfa Romeo 156 GTA Super 2000 1,998 cc (121.9 cu in) 260 PS (191 kW; 256 hp) at 8450 rpm
Alfa Romeo 156 Super 2000 1,998 cc (121.9 cu in) 275 PS (202 kW; 271 hp) at 8450 rpm

Coloni S1 Alfa Romeo 156[edit]

Alfa Romeo 156 Coloni

Italian race car constructor Coloni made a one-off racing car prototype for FIA Group-E Formula Libre called the Coloni S1 Alfa Romeo 156, or 156 Maxiturismo.[39] The car is a carbon fibre silhouette racing car on a tubular frame,[40] powered by a 3.0 litre Alfa Romeo V6 engine producing between 380 bhp (280 kW) and 500 bhp (370 kW). The car has a 6-speed Hewland-Coloni sequential gearbox and weighs around 900 kilograms (2,000 lb). It is capable of achieving over 310 kilometres per hour (190 mph).[40]

References[edit]

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