Driving an Alfa Romeo 156 Ti has always made me feel special. This is mostly because even after the 159 was released to replace the 156, there was never a replacement for the Ti…never that is, until now. It was with mixed feelings then that I drove to meet this new Ti after having been invited to view the 159Ti’s before any of the South African press had been given the privelege of seeing them.
As I stepped out of my car I was met face to face with a Red 159 Ti, looking menacing even when stationary. To anyone who didn’t know any better they might think that this is just a regular 159 with different colour rims, however that is very far from the truth. Staying true to their ways, Alfa have left the body of the 159 Ti unmodified, with no outrageous body kits or flared wheel arches. There are more subtle changes that, when combined, mean the 159 Ti is easily identifiable from the standard models. The easiest of these changes to see is the matte black 18 inch rims wrapped in low profile rubber. The car also has lowered stiffened suspension and sporty side skirts giving it a more aggressive demeanor. This is accentuated by the split twin chrome exhaust pipes. The brake calipers on present car were red and added nice contrast from behind the black rims.There are Ti badges on the left lower corner of the boot lid, as well as under the side indicators on both sides.
As for the changes made to the interior of the car, these are more substantial. As you open the door there are new 159 Ti aluminium kick plates and before you get in you also notice the sporty aluminium race like pedals. The sports seats are black leather with Alcantara inserts and red stiching and lining, finished with the Alfa emblem on the headrests. Sitting in them is a dream! The seats are sporty and race like, offering a lot of support, practically engulfing you in the car, but at the same time they are soft and comfortable to sit in, a very good combination. Furthermore the front seats are electrically adjustible and also heated for those cold winter mornings. The black sports multi function steering wheel is finished with red stitching.
From behind it peer the black dials, also rimmed in red and in the classic Alfa Romeo configuration. Other changes on the interior include a new black fascia (as opposed to the aluminium finish in the standard cars) that, when combined with the red rimmed black dials, make for a dramatic feel to the interior of the car. The finishing is immaculate and it all feels very well put together, this is a place that an Alfanatic would no doubt feel happy to be in for hours on end.
As these cars were not due to been seen on the roads yet, I was unfortunately not able to drive one to test the performance enhancements that have been made to this model. I will however go over them in brief. The 159 Ti forms part of the “Alfa Romeo 159 Series 3” group. These are the latest of the 159’s that will be hitting South African shores, with a few noticible changes. As with the passed Ti models there are two engine derivatives. Where the 156 Ti’s were available with the option of either the 2.0L T-Spark, or 2.5L V6 engines, the 159 Ti’s are to be offered with either the 1750 TBi (147kW), which has never been featured in the 159 before, or the 3.2 V6 (191kW ) power plants. Hearing the 3.2L monster roar to life (unfortunately only to reposition it for a few photographs) made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, a few quick bursts on the throttle with the clutch in and you hear the unmistakable hearty growl of the Alfa V6. I must admit I felt a lot like a kid on Christmas Eve, hearing the beautiful noise it produces, but not being able to take it out for a drive. This will however be possible in due time and personally, I cannot wait.
In terms of pricing the ranges are estimated at R365 000 – R375 000 for the 159 1750TBi Ti and R420 000 – R450 000 for the159 3.2 V6 Ti. The cars will be offered with Alfa’s 5 year/150 000 km warrantee that was launched with the Giulietta, while the sevice intervals will be only every 35 000 km. Both models will also be backed by a 6 year/105 000 km service plan.
In my (very biased) mind the 159 Ti had a lot to live up to if it was to be a real replacement for the 156 Ti. I am a firm believer that first impressions are very important. My first impressions of the 159 Ti are very, very good. Alfa Romeo has stayed true to form with this Ti version and has given a “truly exclusive and appealing look to an already stylish vehicle”, as the dealer description of the new model put it. The car looks amazing with the minor exterior changes working together to give a lot more of an effect than one would expect. The interior changes are superb, the quality of the finish and attention to detail are able to rival any of its German competitors in my opinion. Is the 159 Ti a worthy replacement for the 156 Ti then? Well it has passed its first test in terms of its aesthetics and looks with flying colours, the second half of this test is to be experienced when I have the chance to take the car out and put it through its paces, so for now we will call it to be continued…
A big word of thanks must be given to Arnold Chatz Motors in Hyde Park for allowing us the opportunity to have a sneak peak at the new 159 Ti, and for allowing us at Alfanatics to be the first in South Africa to release a review on the car.