In its bid to cover all the angles Alfa Romeo SA has introduced two more niche models.
The first is a turbo-diesel version of the Alfa 147 hot hatch fitted with 1.9-litre common rail 85 kW motor which still allows sporting performance (0-100 km/h in 10 seconds, top speed 191 km/h) while allowing superb fuel economy of as little as 5.8 litres/100 km in a combined cycle.
The second is a brace of more powerful versions of the luxury 166 four-door sedan, plus a new face and an upgraded version of the current 3-litre automatic.
The styling changes see a more upright grille which forms, together with the two side intakes, the traditional three-part retro-look Alfa motif.
More important of this is a much bigger and deeper Alfa shield, flanked by new bi-xenon headlamps behind clear non-faceted glass.
The extra power comes courtesy of a long stroke 3.2-litre V6 engine which pushes out 176 kW, and coupled with a 6-speed manual gearbox lifts top speed to 245 km/h and reduces 0-100 km/h acceleration to 7.4 seconds. Overall fuel consumption drops to 12.5 litres/100 km.
The current 162 kW 3-litre engine continues in the 4-speed automatic.
There are three trim levels in the 166 range - Progression, TI, and Distinctive.
- Progression features 16 inch alloy wheels with 205/55 tyres and seats embroidered with an Alfa Romeo logo.
- The TI version has a more sporting image, which on the outside includes lower ride height for improved handling, parking sensors, as well as a special badge and more sporting 18 inch wheels with 235/40 tyres.
Inside the seat backrests are electrically adjusted and the squabs heated, and have an embroidered TI logo in red; there's a TI logo on the aluminium sill plate, and there's red button and instrumentation lighting.
- The Distinctive level, available only on the automatic, has 17 inch wheels shod with 225/45 rubber, plus parking sensors. The seats are embroidered with an Alfa Romeo logo. The front seats are heated and have manually-adjusted seat slides with electric backrest adjustment.
Of course all models have all the bells and whistles, including ABS brakes with electronic brake distribution, ESP stability control and ASR traction control, as well as dual front airbags, side bags, and curtain airbags.
There's remote central locking, electrically-operated windows and mirrors, rain sensing wipers, height and reach adjustable steering, radio/front loader CD with shuttle, and a trip computer.
The five-door Alfa 147 1.9 JTD has all the features found on other 147 models, including tinted windows, remote central locking, colour-coded bumpers and mirrors, 15 inch alloy wheels with 195/60 tyres, front and rear electric windows, radio with CD player and 6 speakers, satellite radio controls on the steering wheel, and dual zone air conditioning.
Safety items include front, side and window airbags and ABS brakes.
On the road
The new 147 JTD engine translates into a unique experience for Alfa owners, because it gives the sort of flexibility expected from a diesel with the sporty sound and feel of an Alfa motor.
Granted you can't rev it to interstellar limits, but at the same time you don't have to do lightning changes to prevent OVER-revving it.
You can sit high enough on the power band to drive it with sporting verve, and don't have to hang onto high gears for so long that you're scared of over-cooking it in tight corners.
The single overhead camshaft engine produces its 275 Nm of torque from fairly low down the rev range (maxi8mum is at a lowly 2 000 r/min) and this means there's lots of low-down grunt for acceleration and overtaking.
The engine is slightly heavier than the 1.6-litre petrol unit it replaces, but you can't feel it in hard driving - the front end doesn't dive any more than usual, nor is there any additional understeer.
The Alfa Romeo 147 1.9 JTD
However I'm sure Alfa owners will be pleased that now they can have their cake and eat it - power and performance PLUS great economy.
The 166 is, of course, a horse of a different colour.
We opted to drive the TI version on our short ride and drive programme on the Reef, and we were quite impressed by this newcomer.
It certainly has a great turn of speed, while the gearbox proved slick and sure. Steering is crisp, with easy turn-in - although the turning circle, as with other 166 models (and the 165), is a bit wide.
Interior trim levels are high, with lots of leather, and the seats very comfortable.
Both the 147 and 166 have a 3 year/60 000 km full maintenance plan as well as the Alfa Cares 24 hour roadside assistance programme.
Cars have a 12 month/unlimited distance warranty and a 24-month extended warranty to 100 000 km. There's three years' guarantee on paintwork and five years against rust perforation.
- Alfa Romeo 147 1.9 JTD R198 000
- Alfa Romeo 166 3.2 Progressive 6-speed manual R349 000
- Alfa Romeo 166 3.2 TI 6-speed manual R405 000
- Alfa Romeo 166 3.0 Distinctive 4-speed automatic R413 000.
Click here for Alfa 166 gallery