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Future models - Alfa Romeo - 156

First look: Alfa 156 updated

Better or worse: New 156 design takes a classic front-end and moves it toward the latest Alfa corporate face.

Design legend Giugiaro has worked his magic on the Alfa 156's styling

10 Jun 2003

ALFA ROMEO has revealed the first pictures of the facelifted 156 mid-size prestige sedan and wagon, that will make its Australian debut at the Sydney international motor show in October.

The update features the first substantial change to the widely praised exterior of the 156 since its European launch in 1997.

The key change is the new front, which in the style of the 147 and legendary car stylist Giorgetto Giugiaro's recent Brera showcar, adopts the new Alfa Romeo "shield", headlights and bumpers.

There's also a revised front bumper, while at the rear there are new lights and boot lid for the sedan.

Interior changes include a new dashboard and door trim treatment. There is also more use of leather on the dashboard and door trims than in the existing 156. But fundamental specification will remain unchanged.

Mechanically, the most significant changes are for the European market diesel models, with the 1.9 litre JTD gaining a six-speed gearbox and the launch of a new five cylinder 2.4 litre 20-valve diesel that uses the new Fiat Multijet technology to offer 129kW, matched to new low levels of emissions and fuel economy.

It is expected that the new Australian 156 range will continue on virtually unchanged - 156 JTS, 156 Selespeed and 156 2.5 V6 in sedan versions and JTS and Selespeed in the Sportwagon. The exception is the 156 GTA, which is not included in the initial line-up of the new models.

Pricing is forecast to rise slightly, but just how much depends on the deteriorating Aussie dollar exchange rate with the euro. Currently, 156 pricing starts at $49,950.

The 156 facelift is the initiative of new Alfa Romeo boss Daniele Bandiera, with revisions also coming for the 147, 166 and the addition of a 4WD 156 Sportwagon. The GTV and Spider have already been updated.

The styling rework has been completed by Giorgetto Giugiaro's design company Italdesign.

"The reinterpretation of a style icon such as the Alfa 156 had to convey maximum determination and aggression to give it even greater appeal," he said.

"Thus you see a new front-end with significant changes to the grille, which is now bigger and features a new headlight design. The lower bumper area is also narrower than on the previous version."

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