The new Alfa Romeo 149 has been spied on test, looking remarkably similar to the Fiat Bravo. That’s because this Alfa, like the new Mito hatch, will be based on Fiat parts. Scooped at the Nurburgring (it’s manufacturer test season), the 149 is undergoing cooling checks, hence the production-spec front lights, grilles and air intakes that point to the final design.
Alfa Romeo 149: the looks
Breaking through the black cladding at the front of the car is Alfa’s traditional grille, with a honeycombed unit underneath that stretches to the foglights in a formation that echoes the styling of the Mito – a car we already love. Alfa has even placed the mock-number plate in its usual location, offset from the grille.
Other tell-tale signs of what lie beneath are the bulging headlights, appearing to be tacked on top of a sleeker body than the Bravo they are borrowed from. Expect the bonnet on the 149 to be sculptured in a similar manner to the Mito’s, too.
Alfa Romeo 149: the engines
The 149 is expected to share much of its hardware with the Bravo, shrugging off the extra wheelbase that fellow platform-sharer Lancia adopted with the Delta. Dimensions for the new Alfa Romeo should be around the base car’s 4336mm length and 1792mm width, but it’ll be lower than the lofty Fiat.
Engines wise, the turbo units from the Bravo look a dead certainty:
1.4 T-Jet – 120bhp/152lb ft
1.4 T-Jet – 150bhp/170lb ft
1.6 Multijet – 120bhp/221lb ft
1.9 Multijet – 150bhp/225lb ft
They should slot neatly alongside a more powerful engine for a hotter 149, although it hasn’t been confirmed whether the GTA badge will make a return. To match the 147 GTA, a 250bhp power unit would be required.
Alfa Romeo DNA
And to keep it all in check expect to see Alfa’s new DNA system, too. The adjustable chassis set-up is destined for the Mito, and it’s being prepared for the 149 too. The system is a driver-operated system that adjusts the car’s key controls – engine, brakes, steering, suspension and gearbox – with settings for town driving, difficult weather conditions and sportier ‘dynamic’ driving. No prizes for guessing which our favourite will be. Here’s hoping it lifts Alfas above the competition so that the drive can finally match the looks.
With the Mito hitting showrooms in early 2009, the 149 won’t be here in a hurry – a Geneva 2009 unveiling is expected, with sales to follow in autumn 2009.