Diesel and Automatic: the perfect Alfa 159 partnership

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Diesel has long shrugged off its smokey, cacophonous past – and in the case of the new Alfa Romeo 159 2.4 JTDm (aka Multijet Turbo Diesel), has embraced the era of the performance diesel.

Excellent power and torque deliveries under all driving conditions, combined with low fuel consumption confirm the Italian automaker’s supremacy in the diesel field. The newcomer obviously respects Euro 4 limits, and incorporates a DPF (particulate trap) that eliminates fine dust in line with the limits currently envisaged for future Euro 5 legislation. (It is a “for life” system that doesn’t need to be regenerated with additives, and will be eligible for tax incentives.)

Of equal significance is the fact that the 159 2.4 JTDm debuts with Alfa’s new Q-Tronic six-speed automatic transmission. This is a real milestone for the Milanese automaker as it is Alfa’s first ‘genuine’ automatic transmission.

The 2.4 JTDm 20v powerplant

Derived from the familiar 2.4 JTDm 20-valve “Common Rail” engine, the new engine has 5-cylinders in line and is the most powerful engine in the JTDM multivalve Multijet family.

The new engine offers numerous advantages over its predecessor. First of all, it is appreciably quieter during the heating stage, depending on the rev speed and ambient temperature. It is also extremely powerful (147 kW at 4000 rpm), with a generous torque (400 Nm at 2000 rpm).

There are four valves per cylinder, activated via hydraulic tappets and rocker arms by the twin overhead camshaft. Several changes were made to the new turbo diesel engine to boost performance and engine torque at low speeds, and to eliminate noise and vibration. For example, the “Common Rail” system adopted on the 2.4 JTD Multijet 20v employs two new automatic control strategies for the setting and balance of the injected diesel fuel, to reduce noise and vibration.

The engine includes a number of new components, such as the cylinder head with small stem inlet valves to increase the quantity of inlet air, con rods of fractured steel and a new shape that increases mechanical resistance to the strong stress created by the increased power, an inlet manifold fitted with a throttle valve on one of the two inlet ports of the cylinders to control the turbulence of the air entering; a throttle valve to prevent shaking if the engine stalls, and an intercooler that is highly efficient thanks to its shape and position in the car, to guarantee the optimal temperature and density of the inlet air.

The electronic EGR exhaust gas cooling system has also been modified; the lubricating circuit has a new oil pump and an external air/oil heat exchanger to cool the oil, while the water pump on the cooling circuit is also new. In other words, a long list of improvements and changes that have produced a reliable, powerful engine which is sparing on fuel. Excellent results, achieved thanks to different engine control settings, an increase in the direct injection pressure to 1600 bar, and new turbo blower settings.

The turbo boost is provided by a turbo blower with a variable geometry turbo that helps to improve the power delivery, but also generates very high torque even at low engine speeds. In fact, 90% of peak torque is available between 1750 and 3500 rpm. These figures translate into extremely enjoyable driving and brilliant performance: the Alfa 159 has a top speed of 228 km/h and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.4 seconds. Fuel consumption remains low (6.8 l/100 km in the mixed cycle).

Q-Tronic six-speed auto transmission

The ‘Q-Tronic’ automatic six-speed transmission available on the new 159 diesel allows the car to be driven in automatic mode with all the functions typical of an automatic transmission (parking, reverse, neutral and drive) or in sequential mode by simply moving the selector.

The ‘Q-Tronic’ name continues the Alfa Romeo tradition of using the letter ‘Q‘ to indicate the most sophisticated technology developed by the Company: from the famous Quadrifoglio to the ‘Q4’ of the permanent four wheel drive to the very recent ‘Q2’ for the front wheel drive. The term Tronic, on the other hand, tells us that the system is controlled by a smart electronic control unit that governs optimum gearshifts.

This is how it works… Automatic transmission in itself ensures more effective use of engine performance and greater comfort, particularly around town. The Q-Tronic backs these advantages with very comfortable gearshifts, i.e. a reduction in the number of pulses felt by the driver.

The innovative system also allows those who do not wish to renounce the pleasure of a sporty drive to use the system in sequential manner in the same way as a gearbox with fixed ratios controlled in sequence: when the gearbox is pushed up (‘+’ sign), the gearbox shifts to the next gear up while when it is pushed down (‘-’ sign), the gearbox shifts down a gear. In this mode too, the system ensures the driver is able to maintain a sporty drive because, unlike sequential gearboxes offered by rival cars, the Q-Tronic does not force gear shifts at high speeds and the change may be made when the driver wishes.

As an exclusive feature on the 2.4 JTDm, the Q-Tronic also offers a Sport–Winter function that allows the driver to choose between two operating modes (Sport and Winter) in addition to the default setting. In detail, the Comfort mode, which is active when the car is started with the lever in position D, facilitates smooth gearshifts and balanced management of fuel consumption because gears are engaged at relatively low rpm. When the key beside the lever is pressed, the system changes to Sport Mode.

This lays the stress on performance and ensures a lively, entertaining drive because the gearshifts are set at higher engine speeds for a more sporty performance. When the same button is held down for longer, the system switches to Winter mode. This ensures maximum grip when the road surface is particularly hazardous, for example when the roads are snow-covered.

Blue & MeTM

This award-winning innovation pioneered by Fiat in conjunction with Microsoft, is the ultimate telecommunications/infotainment interface. Offered as a factory-fitted option on all 159 models, Blue & Me offers the following features:

  • A wireless Bluetooth kit with exclusive speaker-independent voice recognition technology that allows users to make and receive calls using their personal devices (mobile phones, PDAs). All functions can be activated using voice controls or steering wheel control buttons with all information visible on the dashboard display (eg phone book names, received calls and outgoing calls).
  • Thanks to the USB port, Blue & Me is fully compatible with MPS, WMA and WAV formats for use with MP3 players, USB pens etc. This means that users can play back digitally stored music tracks on the car’s stereo system. When the ‘play back’ device is connected to the USB port, the radio display indicates a whole host of things (user may choose from the album, artist and genre categories using voice commands and then use steering wheel controls to scroll through available music tracks). Additional voice commands for ease of use: ‘Stop’, ‘Play’, ‘Next’ or ‘Previous track’, ‘Random play’ and ‘Repeat’.
  • Blue & me is completely upgradeable from a software perspective to support future formats.

Pricing & Servicing

At the launch of the new Alfa 159 2.4 JTDM the recommended retail price will be     R345 000.

As with all other Alfa Romeo products, the new model enjoys the full after-sales backing in South Africa thanks to a comprehensive parts inventory and to trained technicians at Alfa Romeo dealerships countrywide. It’s also covered by a 5 year/100 000 km maintenance plan as well as an AA Fleet care roadside assistance for 12 months. The service is active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is available by calling the dedicated toll-free number 0800 223 727.

Service intervals (including oil changes) are required just every 30 000km.

Standard Equipment Common to 3.2 V6, 2.2 JTS and now the 2.4 JTDM:

  • 7 airbags (incl. a driver’s kneebag)
  • Passenger airbag deactivation
  • Isofix child seat fastenings
  • ABS with EBD
  • Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC)
  • Anti Slip Regulation (ASR)
  • Hydraulic Brake Assistance (HBA)
  • Hill Holder
  • Remote central locking
  • Electronic ‘key’ with starter button
  • Dual-zone climate control (with rear ventilation slots)
  • Radio/CD frontloader
  • Steering wheel controls
  • Centre console with oddments compartment
  • Cruise control
  • Leather interior
  • Electric windows/mirrors
  • Visibility Pack (rain- and windscreen fogging sensors as well as electrochromatic exterior and interior mirrors)
  • 17-inch alloys (standard on the Q4 and JTD with the option of 18”)