Alfa Romeo 159 2.0

JTDm Lusso saloon

Alfa 159 2.0 JTDm

A NEW heart beats beneath the bonnet of the Alfa Romeo 159 combining both economy and pulling power.

As well as sprucing up the interior trim and adding new equipment, the Italians have introduced the 2.0 JTDm diesel engine to the mix for 2011.

This efficient oil burner is equipped with a turbocharger which delivers impressive levels of torque and a lively performance as well as relatively low fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

I found it a decent individual that was as happy pootling around town as it was cruising up and down the motorway.

It is a worthy addition to a range of engines that feature a 200bhp turbo petrol power unit and a 170bhp diesel.

Alfa have also given the cabin the once over and it now offers new sports cloth upholstery as well as elegant aluminium inserts on the dashboard and on the mouldings on the central console.

The dashboard seems intent on meeting your every whim with stylish-looking sports dials angled towards the driver who gets things started via a key-slot and push-button ignition system.

There's also steering wheel and door trim inserts that give the 159 a sleek feel, while stainless steel kick plates and 17-inch multi-spoke design alloy wheels add the final touches to a beautiful package.

The comfortable Lusso version I tested is part of a revised range featuring three trim specifications - the entry-level Turismo and the sporty TI being the other two models on sale.

They all come with lots of kit which you notice as soon as you sit at the black leather steering wheel festooned with buttons that control things like the CD/radio sound system which comes with eight speakers giving new life to the tiredest of CD collections.

Be careful though - with the electric windows down the Alfa is way too cool for some of the naff bands and singers that sadly make up the majority of most people's music libraries - and take it from me younger pedestrians tend to let you know it.

So it's probably best to leave the windows up and instead rely on the dual zone automatic climate control to regulate the environment. It has the added benefit of offering no opinion on your choice of tracks.

There's a  Bluetooth system allowing hands-free operation of your mobile phone so feel free to drive along telling your friends about the wonderful leather upholstery, the easy-to-use cruise control and the beautiful front foglights that are part of the magical front-end of a car that cannot fail to leave you smitten.

The TI versions are distinguished on the outside by 19-inch spoked alloys, side skirts, lowered sports suspension and red-painted brake callipers, while the interior features wraparound seats trimmed in leather and Alcantara, aluminium sports pedals plus kick plates sporting the TI logo.

The high level of specification extends to safety equipment with the 159 offering stability control including an anti-slip function, hill start and emergency braking assistance plus front, side and window airbags.

The 159 is good to drive and deals well with all but the most inhospitable of surfaces. The levels of grip are impressive and the the steering is sharp and accurate.

FAST FACTS

Alfa Romeo 159 2.0 JTDm Lusso saloon

Price: £24,150

Mechanical: 136bhp, 1,956cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 126mph

0-62mph: 9.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 55.4

Insurance Group: 22

C02 emissions: 134g/km

Bik rating: 19%

Warranty: 3yrs/ unlimited miles

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