A revised three- and five-door Alfa Romeo 147 range has just gone on sale in South Africa, featuring new Giugiaro styling, the addition of the awesome 110 kW M-Jet diesel engine, uprated interiors and revised chassis dynamics.

Alfa Romeo 147

With recommended pricing ranging from R183 000 to R219 000, Alfa Romeo’s sporty mid-size hatchback continues to offer a distinctive alternative within the upper sub-C segment of the market. Even more so than before, the new 147 model line-up will suit a wide range of tastes and pockets. You can choose from: three- and five-door versions, two petrol engines, two diesel engines (the new MultiJet being the big news), and Progression and Distinctive equipment options.

Launched in South Africa in May 2001, the 147 has gone on to record over 360,000 sales worldwide. Its special blend of Italian design flair and advanced engineering, which translates into great handling and sparkling performance, has won Alfa’s prestige compact sports hatch no fewer than 27 awards, including European Car of the Year in 2001.

In the words of Giorgio Gorelli, Managing Director of Fiat Auto South Africa, the New 147 is “proof that hatchback motoring can be exciting”.

“Unashamedly an Alfa Romeo, the new 147 is the perfect marriage of style, practicality and technology. The design revisions combined with the under-the skin-technology in the form of the comfort suspension and the addition of the award-winning MultiJet diesel, take the New 147 to even greater iconic heights than its predecessor,” Gorelli said.

The New 147 retains the original’s well-proportioned, muscular lines, but the bonnet, front wings and front bumper are all new to give a cleaner, more dynamic front end. In particular, the distinctive shield-type grille is now larger and positioned lower and further forward. The most dramatic change, however, has been applied to the headlights – they now sweep back to follow the lines of the V-shaped bonnet. Headlight units have also been made more stylish thanks to their clear covers and three projector style light elements. There’s now a mesh covering to the lower air intakes and this adds extra dynamic appeal. The overall result is a car with a far keener sporting bias. The new-look front end adds to the front overhang so that the New 147 is around 5cm longer than its predecessor.

The new face is complemented by subtle design changes at the rear, where the designers have reworked the tailgate and extended the tail-lights in towards the centre line of the car, to create a more triangular outline which mirrors the lower edge of the rear tailgate glass. The tailgate continues to be hinged 10 cm forward from the trailing edge of the roof to make loading easier. The shape is uncluttered by any handle, the tailgate being released from inside the car or via the central locking remote, when it is automatically released from the body to ensure it can be conveniently raised.

The 147 range offers a choice of 13 colours, five of them new: Radicofani Red, Pergusa Orange, Giannutri Green, Dijon Blue and Navona Grey metallics.

One of the strengths of the Alfa Romeo 147 range has been the breadth of its engine choice. Petrol engines in 88 kW 1.6 litre, and 110 kW 2.0 litre Twin Spark guise were joined in 2004 by the 85 kW 1.9 litre JTD common rail turbodiesel engine.

The two Twin Spark engines feature 16 valves and twin-overhead camshafts and offer great flexibility and seamless power delivery, with plenty of torque even at low engine speeds. Both the 88 kW 1.6 litre and 110 kW 2.0 litre engines feature variable valve timing, while the 2.0 litre also uses a variable geometry intake system for strong performance allied to good fuel economy. 100 km/h is reached from standstill in 10.6 and 9.3 seconds respectively, while Combined cycle consumption figures are 8.2 l100 km and 8.9 l100 km respectively.  Twin counter-rotating balancer shafts enhance further the refinement of the 2.0 litre mill.

Now entrenched in the 147 range, the 85 kW JTD common rail diesel engine continues to offer spirited performance but with a small appetite for fuel. Vital statistics for this model are: 5.8 l100 km (combined cycle), a top speed of 191 km/h and 0-100 km/h acceleration in 9.9 seconds.

But, the big news for 2005 is the debut of the groundbreaking, 110 kW 1.9 litre JTD MultiJet engine in the New 147. This engine, first seen in the GT, marks the first appearance in South Africa of second-generation common rail technology (bear in mind that Fiat pioneered common-rail diesel technology). Its adoption of higher injection pressures and multiple, but smaller injections, delivers even greater performance and fuel efficiency, together with reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

This engine, is a twin-overhead cam 16-valve unit with a variable-geometry Garrett turbocharger, delivering 110 kW at 4000 rpm, while the remarkable maximum torque figure is 305 Nm at 2000 rpm. The unit produces a smooth, reliable and quiet delivery of power, with remarkably low fuel consumption allied to sparkling performance and impressive flexibility.

The maximum torque figure is actually greater than that generated by the 176 kW 3.2 litre petrol V6 of the 147 GTA, and the result is exceptional flexibility: 90% of maximum torque is available between 1750 and 3250 rpm. The 0-100 km/h acceleration time drops from 9.9 seconds to 8.8seconds (in comparison to the 1.9 JTD UniJet), while the combined cycle fuel consumption remains at a frugal 5.9 litres/100km.

MultiJet versus UniJet
MultiJet technology is based on the same common rail principles as those employed in UniJet engines, represented in the New 147 by the 85 kW 1.9 JTD unit. Within a UniJet engine, a pilot injection raises temperature and pressure inside the cylinder to improve combustion at the time of the main power stroke. The MultiJet divides the main injection into a number of smaller injections, affording a fuller, more gradual combustion, while the amount of diesel burnt at each stroke remains the same; smoother, quieter combustion, reduced emissions and increased performance are the result.

To facilitate multi-injection, the injectors reduce the time lag between injections from 1500 to just 150 microseconds, and reduce the minimum quantity of fuel injected from 2 to less than 1 cu mm. The control unit constantly monitors engine rpm, torque required at any given time by the driver, and coolant temperatures, and adjusts the injection strategy accordingly.

Thus, when coolant temperature is less than 60 degrees and torque requirement low, two small and one large injection are performed. As torque demand increases, the number of injections drops to two; one small and one large. Under conditions of high rpm and high torque demand, only one injection is required whilst, with coolant temperature at over 60 degrees, emissions are minimised with one small, one large, then one small injection in the sequence.

Hence, start-up times and exhaust smoke are reduced, noise levels and vibration are lowered to ensure a quieter drive and improved passenger comfort, fuel consumption is reduced by a further 10% and emission control reduction amounts to 50%.

The MultiJet engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission, while other versions in the New 147 range are equipped with a five-speed manual ’box.
Precision handling and great roadholding make the Alfa 147 a real driver’s car, one that enhances everyday driving satisfaction. Now, subtle changes to the damper characteristics and suspension design have brought even higher standards of ride comfort to complement its dynamic ability. The proven and successful arrangement of double wishbones at the front and MacPherson struts at the rear continues to deliver exceptional lateral grip, swift cornering, great efficiency and crisp steering response.

Chassis / ‘Comfort’ Suspension
The proven and successful arrangement of double wishbones at the front and MacPherson struts at the rear continues, but a series of revisions mean the New 147’s ride comfort has been enhanced without any adverse effects on its renowned handling characteristics.

The front shock absorber pistons are now longer and housed in Teflon guides, and this has been introduced in conjunction with subtle changes to suspension design, both front and rear.

As far as customers are concerned, the result is a forgiving and drivable chassis that offers safety and control together with the precision and response that one would expect from an Alfa Romeo; yet great comfort is assured under all conditions. The New 147 offers exceptional lateral grip, swift cornering, great efficiency and crisp steering response, making it a real driver’s car.

Front suspension:
Structurally, the double wishbone system consists of a cast iron bottom wishbone, a steel upright and a light alloy top wishbone. The co-axial spring-shock absorber unit is connected to the body via a flexible top mount, and to the bottom wishbone by a light alloy fork that fits over the driveshaft. For reasons of size and structural rigidity, the top wishbone is mounted on an aluminium shell that doubles as the top spring-damper flexible mount housing, and is bolted rigidly to the shell.

This configuration offers many benefits over more conventional strut front suspensions and gives:

  • Optimum tyre grip; in a corner the unequal wishbone lengths compensate for body roll by recovering camber;
  • The wishbone geometry allows the steering axle to tilt towards the front of the car – a high caster angle – which reduces yaw under braking;
  • Improved traction, especially in low grip conditions;
  • A self-aligning effect proportional to lateral acceleration in corners;
  • Greater steering precision and sensitivity, even with the high steering angles needed for tight bends on twisting roads;
  • Slight toe-out in the transient phase to compensate for the driver’s steering action on entering a corner;
  • Promotion of anti-dive; the wishbone bases are angled so that the braking force at the point of contact with the road ‘stretches’ the suspension;
  • Inhibition of nose lifting during acceleration; the pulling force transmitted via the pair of half-shafts is applied to the wheel centres, which ‘compresses’ the suspension;
  • No lateral loading on the shock absorber body to cause stiction in the damper.

Alfa Romeo engineers reduced friction in the suspension by fitting fluidodynamic bushes to hinge the top wishbone, thus ensuring better absorption of road irregularities. The wishbone hinge and steering arm bushes have been optimised to give:

  • Increased grip; the wheel is angled less in relation to the road in corners;
  • Optimum stress absorption capacity and thus comfort due to increased longitudinal suspension flexibility;
  • Excellent directional stability; the wheel moves back without affecting the steering when it meets an obstacle;
  • Effective absorption of vertical impact due to optimisation of the upper unit attaching the damper to the bodyshell;
  • Reduction of steering wheel vibration; the steering arms incorporate a flexible element on their centre line;
  • Good stabilising action; the steering arms cause the outside wheel to diverge during the ‘transient release’ stage of corners.

Rear suspension
A MacPherson system with advanced geometry, and an anti-roll bar, is fitted at the rear. The rear anti-roll bar is connected to the dampers with spherical bearings to enhance wheel control. The choice of this arrangement ensures stability during high speed manoeuvres, together with agility over mixed surfaces.

Careful selection of the body mounting points and bushing types ensures:

  • Greater ability to absorb obstacles; the wheel moves backwards without the driver experiencing any negative steering effect;
  • Maximum directional stability;
  • A prompt yet graduated steering response;
  • Excellent car realignment capacity, even in extreme conditions; achieved by consistent rear wheel steering under lateral load;
  • Great driving stability.

The New 147 range remains comprehensively equipped, with all models featuring alloy wheels, six airbags – front, side and window bags – climate control (manual on Progression models and dual-zone on Distinctive versions), power steering, load limiters and pretensioners for the front seatbelts, a steering wheel adjustable for height and reach, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, electric front windows and door mirrors (heated), tinted windows, steering wheel mounted audio controls, a trip computer, remote control central locking, ‘follow me home’ headlamps, a 60:40 split-folding rear seat, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, an adjustable front armrest with storage compartment and an Alfa code immobiliser and alarm system.

All models come standard with an RDS radio/CD player and six speakers, while Distinctive models get even more kit in the form of a CD changer, front fog lamps, power rear windows, cruise control and leather upholstery.

Alloy wheels are standard across the range – 15” in the case of Progression models and 16” for the Distinctive models.

Moving indoors, the curved dashboard now houses a single binnacle display containing the main instruments, which utilise Italian nomenclature such as ‘giri’ (RPM) and ‘acqua’ (WATER). The latest models feature new instrument and control graphics, on a silver or black background, designed for clarity and legibility. At night, the instruments are lit with adjustable intensity red light. This colour allows the eyes to focus more rapidly during the transition from a dark road to a bright dashboard. The fascia itself is now manufactured from upgraded plastics, as used in the GT and there are additional two-tone combinations.

Other cabin highlights include additional Alfatex fabrics on Progressive models and new rear headrests which allow for better visibility.

The sense of security provided by the 147’s acclaimed chassis is backed up by some sophisticated driver-aid systems. All models are equipped with anti-lock braking (ABS) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), anti-slip regulation (ASR) and the engine torque control system known as Motor Schleppmoment Regelung (MSR). MSR cuts in during abrupt downshifts under conditions of low grip, and restores torque to the engine to prevent wheelspin as a result of lock. The Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) stability control system is standard on the New Alfa 147 2.0 and 1.9 JTD MultiJet Distinctive models.

VDC intervenes to bring the car back under control when extreme conditions threaten stability. As befits a true Alfa, VDC permits outstanding roadholding while allowing the driver the full satisfaction of controlling the car, cutting in only when the situation reaches a critical condition.

Permanently engaged, it works by continually monitoring tyre grip in both longitudinal and lateral directions. The system’s sensors detect rotation of the car body about its vertical axis (yaw speed), lateral acceleration and the steering wheel angle and compares this data with pre-programmed parameters to establish whether the car is cornering within its grip limits or if the front or rear is about to slide (understeer or oversteer, respectively).

To restore the correct trajectory, it then generates a yawing movement in the opposite direction to the movement that gave rise to the instability, by braking the appropriate wheel (interior or exterior) individually and reducing engine power via the throttle.

The braking is modulated to ensure the action is as smooth as possible, while engine power reduction is contained to ensure outstanding performance and great driving satisfaction at all times.

The VDC communication system includes:

  • A body computer that constantly exchanges information with the ABS, engine management unit and automatic transmission unit;
  • An electronic throttle (that communicates with the ABS in turn);
    • A control panel (active warning lights);
  • The steering wheel and steering column (via the steering sensor);
  • A gyroscopic sensor installed on the passenger compartment floor to record car yaw and lateral acceleration.

On the passive safety front, all 147s come standard with six airbags, front seatbelts with pre-tensioners and load limiters, and front and rear seats with an anti-submarining design. The front passenger airbag may be deactivated manually by turning a switch at the far right hand side of the facia with the ignition key, so that a rearward facing baby seat can be transported (the pre-tensioner remains active).

Window bags drop down from the roof lining to protect occupants’ heads in the case of side impact and run along the entire length of the windows.

Also forming part of the passive safety arsenal is Alfa Romeo’s Fire Prevention System (FPS). One of the main system components is an inertia switch that immediately cuts off the electric fuel pump in the event of a serious impact. The switch brings about a pressure drop in the fuel supply and prevents fuel emerging. A fuel cut-off valve is also fitted downstream of the tank to prevent fuel flowing out in the case of impact, roll-over or pipe damage.

The plastic fuel tank is resistant to mechanical stress and fire. It is located in a protected position in front of the rear axle.

The 147 range is fitted with a Multiplex electrical system employing maxi-fuses. Thus, the electrical supply is cut when the recorded temperature is too high. The leads connected to the starter motor and alternator are sheathed with an abrasion-resistant coating and are located in protected areas.

Particular care has been devoted to the arrangement of components and auxiliaries that could be damaged by a fault or an accident. The interior trim is fire-resistant and meets tough US flame retardant regulations.

Recommended Pricing
New 147 1.6 3-door Progression – R183 000 (incl VAT)
New 147 1.6 5-door Progression – R192 000
New 147 1.9 JTD 5-door Progression – R199 000
New 147 2.0 3-door Distinctive – R207 000
New 147 2.0 5-door Distinctive – R216 000
New 147 1.9 JTD MultiJet 5-door Distinctive – R219 000

Warranties and service
All Alfa models enjoy full after-sales backing in South Africa thanks to a comprehensive parts inventory and to trained technicians at Alfa Romeo dealerships countrywide.

Fiat Auto South Africa offers Alfa Romeo owners a 12-month Manufacturer Warranty, unlimited mileage and an additional 24-month Dealer Extended Warranty or up to 100 000km in total, three years on paintwork and five years on rust anti-perforation.

All Alfa Romeo enjoy a 36-month / 60 000km maintenance plan.

The new models are also covered by the ‘Alfa Cares’ policy in conjunction with the AA Fleet care roadside assistance. The service, which is active 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, is available by calling the dedicated toll-free number 0800 223 727.

Services are required at 20 000 km intervals.