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Driven: Alfa Romeo 147 1.9-litre JTD Multijet - on sale now

Alfa Romeo

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Review

What does 10bhp feel like? That’s the increase in power Alfa Romeo has given its 1.9-litre diesel JTD engine, dropped recently into the 147.

The 16-valve Multijet engine is a development of Alfa’s second-generation common rail technology, already found in the GT, and now delivers 150bhp. The extra horses are barely noticeable in a straight sprint – the 0-62mph time is trimmed by 0.3sec to 8.8sec – but the mid-range performance does get a modest lift.

Pick up is rapid at low revs, keeping gear changes to a minimum when overtaking, and is sustained to the 4,500rev red line. That’s largely thanks to the 226lb ft torque, the same as the previous unit, 90% of which is on tap between 1,750-3,250rpm.

Allied to a re-phased six-speed transmission (sixth gear and final drive ratios have been revised), motorway cruising is also smoother and quieter, while combined fuel consumption remains a frugal 47.9mpg.

The 147 has been a shinning light in a difficult year for Alfa Romeo. The revised range went on sale in March featuring new bonnet, front wings and front bumper to give sharper, more dynamic lines, an upgraded interior and improved chassis dynamics.

It’s the best-looking car in its class and an entertaining drive, with instant handling response to slight flicks of the steering wheel. Firm seats provide comfort and back support in equal measure.

So what of the extra 10bhp? In truth, it’s not a revolution, the JTD is already the most powerful diesel in its class. But as a paper figure, and costing £150 less than the 140bhp version, it sounds even more impressive in a sales pitch, and should help Alfa dealers find homes for 4,000 models this year.

Strength: Looks, 150bhp, handling
Weakness: Entertaining drive, but outclassed by some rivals
Opportunity: Halo for Alfa diesel range
Threat: Competitive market – Golf, A3 and 1-series
The USP: Ten more horses for the same money
Price: £18,890 (Lusso)
Engine: 1.9-litre 150bhp JTD Multijet
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Performance: 0-62mph: 8.8sec; top speed: 129mph
Efficiency: 47.9mpg comb; 157g/km CO2
CAP RV: £6,350 (35%)
Rivals: VW Golf, Audi A3, Mercedes A-class

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