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FIRST LOOK: Alfa Romeo 159 - due March 2006

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Alfa Romeo dealers can look forward to two new products in 2006: the 159 saloon next March and Brera coupe at the end of summer.

Larger and roomier than its 156 predecessor, the Giugaro-designed 159 has a strong, sleek presence. Alfa says it will provide excellent comfort, stability and roadholding thanks to a suspension combination of high double wishbones at the front and multi-link at the rear.

Engine comprise three direct injection petrol units (260bhp 3.2 V6, 185bhp 2.2, 160bhp 1.9) and three Multijet turbodiesels (200bhp 2.4, 150bhp 1.9 16v and 120bhp 1.9 8v) with particulate filters. Six-speed transmissions are offered with manual, automatic and Selespeed.

Core market for the 159 is contract hire and retail customers. In 2004, sales of the 156 were 3,257 units.

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The Germans. It’s a phrase that appears in consumer roadtests on the 159 regularly, with the BMW named most often.

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