Alfa Romeo 159 1750i

200bhp Turbo

SINCE the mid-1990s the advent of ever more people carriers sowed seeds of doubt about the eventual lifespan of the family saloon.

However, since those days the saloon car still stands proud as a big hitter in its own right and with around 30 family sedans currently in the field, the genre does remain the premier people carrier.

The forecast of its early demise were decidedly premature.

Included in the saloon car line-up are a number of models which qualify for 'compact executive' status and alongside the likes of the Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3 Series is one of my all time favourites, the Alfa Romeo 159.

Recently I took to the tarmac in the Alfa Romeo 159 1750 TBi. Endowed with a long heritage of motoring excellence and taking its name from its successful saloon ancestor, the Alfa 1750 Berlina, Alfa Romeo's lightweight, direct injection turbocharged engine brought some impressive 200bhp along to help power the way ahead.

This new 16-valver, twin overhead camshaft 1,742cc turbo petrol unit has some keen fuel efficiency along with low CO2 emissions of 189g/km.

From a standing start the Alfa 1750 TBi 159 saloon can achieve 0-62mph in a highly creditable sub eight seconds. While the car tops out at 147mph some fine in-gear acceleration translates to a more sporting driver experience consistent with a flat torque curve and a constant delivery of power - perfect conditions for confident overtaking and comfortable long distance cruising.

Despite a lowered firmly sprung chassis set-up in the TI trim model, performance is impressive with some fine agility and composure to hand.

Although the power steering could perhaps have been a little more responsive it is accurate and direct plus, with a chassis that delivers stacks of grip, conditions are right for the discerning driver to enjoy some very neat handling.

In a cabin where fixtures and fittings are of the higher order there's a reasonable sense of space on board the Alfa 159.

Four average sized adults should be perfectly comfortable and, while perhaps not class leading in the rear, head and legroom up front is pretty generous. However, while 405 litres of luggage space is not too bad, it is perhaps more weekend away in the family style than some of the competition in the saloon sector.

Facing a neatly set out dashboard and a steering wheel carrying driver aids such as sound system controls the driving position is good.

FAST FACTS

Alfa Romeo 159 1750i 200bhp Turbo

Price:£26,645

Mechanical: 200bhp, 1,742cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 147mph

0-62mph: 7.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 34.9

Insurance Group: 26

C02 emissions:  189g/km

Bik rating: 27%

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