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Alfa's hot-hatch a homage to ancestors

Modern masterpiece: The Alfa Romeo 147 draws several styling cues from its ancestors.

Alfa Romeo has provided the first glimpse of its new "hot-hatch"

25 May 2000

ALFA Romeo's all-new 147 hatchback will be unveiled at next month's Turin motor show, before going on sale in Europe at the end of the year and in Australia in mid-2001.

The Australian launch of the 147 will enable Alfa Romeo to take on the likes of the VW Golf and Peugeot 306 in the premium hatchback segment.

Measuring 4.16m long and 1.70m wide, Alfa says the newcomer offers performance, safety, equipment and comfort comparable to that of higher category models.

Like its 156 sibling, the 147 draws several styling cues from its ancestors, including a V-shaped bonnet that tails off beneath the headlights - as on the Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Villa d'Este of 1949.

Another familiar feature is the three-part design formed from the two separate air intakes and vertical badge.

The 147 will be offered with a choice of three Twin Spark 16-valve engines in Europe: a 77kW 1.6-litre unit an 88kW 1.6-litre unit and a 110kW 2.0-litre unit.

Alfa Romeo Australia remains tight-lipped about the Australian engine line-up but it is likely only the latter two powerplants will be offered here.

The 2.0-litre unit will be available with either a conventional manual gearbox or Alfa Romeo's Selespeed system, which features steering wheel-mounted buttons for up and down shifts.

Like the Peugeot 306, it will be offered in three and five-door configurations.

Expect pricing to start around $33,000 for the base model.

Alfa Romeo Australia spokesman Mr Edward Rowe is confident the 147 will provide a huge boost to the marque's local sales.

The hatchback shares its floorpan with the 156, which means it is not a development of the outgoing 145 but a completely new car.

Alfa says the 147's torsional rigidity matches that of its larger sibling and it uses the same suspension system: double wishbones at the front and MacPherson struts at the rear.

Stopping power comes from four-wheel disc brakes complemented by an anti-lock system. It also comes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) that ensures optimum braking forces are distributed over front and rear wheels.

Active safety features include traction control and a device to regulate braking torque when changing down through the gears (MSR).

The 147 is also equipped with a device to control dynamic stability on bends (VDC) - similar to Mercedes-Benz's ESP system.

In Europe, the 147 will be equipped with six airbags as standard - two at the front, two at the side and two window airbags.

It is yet to be confirmed whether Australian-spec cars will be similarly equipped.

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