Alfa Romeo 159 GTA (2008)

Published: 26 June 2007

Secret new car? Doesn’t look like Alfa’s doing much to cover it up.

It may look like the victim of a boy-racer driveby, but beneath this Alfa 159’s butchered bodywork sits the underpinnings of the next generation GTA performance flagship. The hallowed Gran Turismo Alleggerita badge was first seen in 1974, when the 1600 Giulia Sprint GTA entered the gruelling Targa Florio in Sicily. Back then the GTA was all about achieving giant-slaying performance through weight-saving. This time the emphasis is purely on power. Our sources claim that beneath that sculpted bonnet sits a tweaked version of Alfa’s new 3.5-litre, direct injection V6 engine that’s expected to pump out at least 350bhp. Expect it to comfortably beat the outgoing 156 GTA’s performance figures, cracking 60mph in six seconds dead, pushing up to 165mph flat out and spitting a wailing exhaust note form those four tailpipes.

Sounds enticing. How much will it set me back?

There’s no word on pricing but given that the last GTA was a bit of a performance bargain, don’t expect to pay anything more than £35,000 for the new model. Specific mechanical details are also still few and far between but, given the speed and poise of the car as it thrashed its way around the Nürburgring, it’s going to give those who can’t stretch to – or want – an M3 plenty of pause for thought. Unlike the previous GTA which set new standards for torque steer and unruly front-drive tyre scrabble, the upcoming model will run an uprated version of the 159’s all-wheel drive system, via a six-speed transmission with a closer stack of six ratios. A modified nose with a wider and lower air intake will help with cooling, as do the pronounced extractor vents behind the front wheelarches to dispel hot air. There’s even a pretty good chance that when it unveils the car – probably at the Geneva motor show next year – Alfa will match the colour of that rear wing to that of the car…

Any other tasty new additions for the 159?

Details are still sketchy about the hot 159, but Alfa has big plans for its range. The new twin-cam V6 is also lined up for the larger models. The forthcoming 169 will knock the current 166 off the shelf in 2009, and feature the V6 in both 3.0 and 3.5-litre form. There will also be two new 2.0-litre diesel engines, pumping out 170bhp and 200bhp respectively, and even a 3.0-litre V6 diesel that will kick out an impressive 250bhp. Those after some eye-candy can look forward to the arrival of the 8C in the next few months. And there’s even a junior model in the pipeline to compete with the likes of the Mini and new Fiat 500 in the small car market. Seems as though the bods at Alfa have been busy.

Now, this looks a bit more production-ready.

It is indeed. This is the latest limited edition offering from Alfa, the 159 TI, or Turismo Internazionale. Only a few Alfas of old have bore the TI moniker, so it’s a prestigious move for the 159. Don’t expect any monumental changes, though. The TI gains a body kit, sports suspension, red Brembo brake calipers, 19-inch alloys and several flashy, new trim additions over the current model. Engine choices remain the same, but Alfa’s Q4 4wd system can now be specified with the 2.4-litre JTDM diesel engine, as well as being fitted as standard with the 3.2-litre JTS V6. The TI will command a £750 premium over standard 159s. In an attempt to maintain a little individuality, Alfa will only offer the TI in a choice of red, grey or black. It’s hardly revolutionary, but the TI might gain a nod from fellow Alfa owners and it’s likely to add a few quid to the all-important resale value.