Alfa Romeo 147

20 Jun 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Alfa Romeo 147
Alfa Romeo 147

Alfa Romeo 147

(September 2001)

Can’t choose between a hot hatch or a luxury car? Then Alfa Romeo would like to speak to you!

The bloke up front in the Beemer was having a bit of a go. The speed he was carrying indicated he knew the road well, and the drainpipe exhaust exiting from the back of his 318ti was a tell-tale sign things weren’t exactly au naturel beneath the bonnet.

But he was starting to sweat a bit, and his glances in the rear view mirror told us he was well aware of our presence. No doubt he was having trouble identifying the hatch with the bold grille locked onto his rear bumper.

It’s the Alfa Romeo 147, the latest, and possibly most important, stage in the resurgence of Alfa in Australia.

Not so many years ago the Italian marque was in a parlous state. Now when you look at the local line-up – from Spider through GTV V6 to 156, 166 and now 147 – you see a group of cars that have recaptured the best aspects of the cuore sportivo.

And a big part of that is strong, distinctive design. The 147 is perhaps Alfa’s best modern design yet; an unusual blend of retro and radical, it features that signature grille, a long, low bonnet and a taut tail that carries hints of Peugeot’s 206 GTi.

The interior is also classy, well designed and, remarkably for an Italian car, ergonomically sound. Soft-touch surfaces abound and the switchgear has a tactile feel that speaks of thoughtful design. Jewel-like details are dotted throughout the cabin, like the Audi TT-style circular ventilation ducts and cowled instruments.

The 147 rides on a modified 156 platform, but the process of shortening the floorpan has been accompanied by revised spring and damper ratings, new rear suspension pick-up points and a new vehicle dynamic control (VDC) stability system.

As our travelling friend discovered, the 147 offers sparkling chassis dynamics and high grip levels that allow it to be punted hard relatively effortlessly. The quick steering and decent feedback through its leather-clad tiller also give it a feeling of surefooted chuckability.

Powering the 147 is Alfa’s 2.0-litre Twin Spark four, which uses twin counter-rotating balance shafts, a twin spark, 16-valve cylinder head and electro-hydraulic variable valve timing to pump out 110 kW at 6300 rpm and 181 Nm at 3800 rpm.

Alfa Romeo 147

Despite the fact it’s been around since Noah, it remains a gem of an engine. Smooth and flexible, it boasts a delicious exhaust note, a meaty bottom-end and mid-range, and a free-spinning top-end.

Australian cars come in pretty much one level of trim, with comprehensive standard equipment that stretches to power windows, mirrors and remote central locking, climate control, ABS, stability control, traction control and six airbags.

Down Under, the 147 will be sold in both three and five-door configurations. Both come motivated by the 2.0-litre Twin Spark, with a choice of five-speed manual or the clever Selespeed five-speed sequential manual.

Intriguingly, both three and five-door are priced identically, with tranny choice the price differentiator between models. Manual three and five-doors come in at $38,500, while Selespeed cars costs $41,500.

Our first drive of the 147 confirmed that it’s well-built and comfortable, with a strong sporting bloodline. While it’s not a hot hatch like Renault’s Clio Sport, nor a sophisticated small luxury car like Audi’s A3, it’s nicely placed between the two and capable of fitting either brief.

Published. Saturday, 1 September 2001

Alfa Romeo 147
Alfa Romeo 147
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