The latest 156 - Alfa's most popular model in SA - now has the same look as the 147, Spyder and GTV, with a "retro" grille reminiscent of Alfa Romeo models of yesteryear, coupled with a much cleaner treatment of the headlamps and air intake area.
The nett result is a significant mid-life update that makes the latest 156 more aggressive and macho.
The best news, however, is that the entry level 2-litre Twin Spark Veloce is a full R6 500 less than the previous entry level 156.
And the 156 Sportwagon is now available with the 2-litre engine, too, making this the lowest-priced estate in its market segment.
The changes, penned by original 156 designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, include a bigger grille and new design headlights. The lower bumper area is also narrower than on the previous version.
At the rear the tail lights have been slightly reworked so that their lower part is emphasised by two slight side-whiskers and the upper part by a motif that frames the Alfa logo and emphasises the rear bonnet volume.
There are also new colour naming references that respect historical brand values. Customers can choose a colour for their car from a palate of 14 shades.
Three are non-metallic: Alfa Red, Carrara White and Kyalami Black. Eleven shades are metallic: Siena Red, Stresa Green, Taormina Blue, Capri Blue, Daytona Blue, Luce di Amalfi Grey, Le Castellet Blue, Gonzaga Grey, Vesuvio Grey, Lipari Grey and Jarama Black.
The interior has also been enhanced by major and minor styling changes that alter its appearance.
The fascia has been completely revised and there's a selection of three colours: black on beige, black on grey, dark grey on light grey (tone on tone matches). The current sporty black fascia complements these alternatives.
The trims vary according to version and specification level and take the form of specially made cloth designed for quality and good looks.
In particular, the new 2.0 Veloce model now features Alfatex, a new high-tech cloth used to trim seats and door panels.
Alfatex was patented by Alfa Romeo and takes the form of a microfibre used to improve transpiration and better seating comfort.
On leather versions, special care has been taken over the seat and under-fascia trim colour matches (black, grey or beige).
The centre of the fascia reveals another new detail. The upper part features a multifunction display, while the lower part contains a built-in radio and automatic dual zone climate control system.
The radio, complemented by a CD player, also offers an outstanding sound system designed and built for the passenger compartment that consists of six speakers and delivers a power output of 4x40 Watts.
An important carryover is the a dual zone automatic climate control system that allows the driver and front passenger to adjust air temperature separately.
Interior microclimate quality is also controlled by an air quality sensor that automatically activates air recirculation when the car is traveling around town, in tunnels or in traffic jams.
The engine lineup consists of the petrol-driven 110 kW 2.0 T. Spark (in Veloce, Lusso and Selespeed versions), the 2.0 T. Spark Veloce Sportwagon and the 141 kW 2.5 V6 24v units (Sedan and Sportwagon).
Active safety is assured by the models excellent road holding and driving precision backed by VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control). This electronic device controls the car's dynamic stability and cuts in under near-limit conditions to help the driver control the car for greater driving satisfaction.'
When the driver changes down suddenly under conditions of poor grip, the MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung) cuts in to restore torque to the engine and prevent slip due to wheel lock.
As far as passive safety is concerned, the New Alfa 156 and Alfa Sportwagon are now fitted - as standard on all versions - with window bags that drop down along the windows in the case of side impact to safeguard the heads of front and rear occupants, in addition to dual front airbags.
Isofix attachments to the left and right of the rear seat also secure child seats easily and safely.
All Alfa 156 models have a 60 000km / 3 year maintenance plan.
Fiat Auto South Africa also includes a 36-month/100 000 km dealer warranty, three years on paintwork and five years on anti-perforation.
The new models are also covered by the 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.
Services are required at 20 000 km intervals.
Sedan - 2.0 Twin Spark Veloce R218 000; 2.0 Twin Spark Lusso R230 000; 2.0 Selespeed R246 000; 2.5 V6 R266 000; 3.2 V6 GTA R379 000.
Sportwagon - 2.0 Veloce R228 000; 2.5 V6 R276 000; 3.2 V6 GTA R389 000.