So I don't know very much about the Alfa, but I know there's a helluva large community of lovers of the Italian brand formerly known as Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, now known as Alfa Romeo, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fiat SpA since 1986. Yeah, because those two names sound like they've got the same soul, right? Anyway — after Sergio Marchionne confirmed the automaker's return to US soil back in May, there's been much discussion about the vehicles we'd see over here — with the 8C supposedly leading the way. Still, someone's been tooling around LA in what's purported to be a
a vehicle not expected to see the light of day until 2007 in Europe, much less on these shores
. But, we've got the photographic evidence in the gallery below, and Alfa BB's mega-moderator, italcarguy's very enthusiastic impression below the jump. Salut! [Hat tip to Nick!] [UPDATE: Nick feels like a tool for saying "149" instead of "159."]
[Spy Photos: Alfa 149 Gallery]
When you first start the car, you are immediately reminded you are in an Alfa Romeo. The car shares the same distinctive grunt of the 164 Quadrifoglio. When you get going, you notice the clutch has a high release, but quickly get used to it. As you accelerate through the gears the car throws down the hammer and pushes you back into your seat. Once again you get the Alfa feeling when you see the tach rise to about 4500 RPM and then scream from 4500 to red line. This wagon was the Q4 version so having AWD was really nice rather than FWD. I did not notice any torque steer while accelerating in a straight line or out of a corner. It felt real crisp all the way through. The transmission was really nice and smooth. Finding the gears and changing them was effortless. The ratios are nice and close keeping you right in the power band between up shifts while hearing the motor bellowing out its deep tone.
RIDING IN THE
You get in the car and it feels like you're sitting on your sofa, but the sporty side bolsters that are wrapped around your sides remind you that you aren't ready to watch Fast and the Furious, but about to be in it. Shut the door and you get that nice solid sound. When you turn the key, you get a nice digital heads up display in between the speedometer and tach. Here you are told everything you need to know, operating temps, fluid levels, day, time, etc. The driver's controls are very friendly. All the gauges and buttons are easily accessible. On the center console, you get fuel, oil temp, and water temp gauge angled towards the driver. Below that is the radio along with the a/c and heater controls. I'm 6' and had no problems sitting in the front or back seats. The fit and finish is nice with a great combination of leather and brushed aluminum. The ride is very smooth and quiet. You go over a bump or pothole and it doesn't even phase you. When you are driving along the road, it's nice and smooth. When you wanna see the race side of it, it's ready to show you what it's got.
LOOKING AT THE
This car was well thought out and gives a lot of hints from Alfa's past. The center grill is very SZ from the 60's. The single bar grille between the lights and center grille immediately throw the early GT Jr.'s in your face. A little hump at the front of the center grille makes you remember seeing a Giulietta Spider for the first time. Open the hood and the upper part of the grille is attached to the hood as in the legendary Giulia Super. Light up the turn signals on the front fenders and you get the impression you are looking at a 6C 2500. Reach for the chrome door handle and you see yourself opening the door to the past. When you sit behind the steering wheel and look at the gauges, you see the classic dual bullets that was so commonly used in the Spider for so many years. The center console offers you a Jr. Zagato look although this time in brushed aluminum instead of stainless steel. You get three auxiliary gauges directed right at eye level so you can just glance over while you are driving just as in the Spiders of the past.
Overall, the car is a huge score for Alfa Romeo. They WILL succeed with their current line up when it shows up. If you are thinking about buying a car anytime soon, wait a little longer for the Alfa. I know for a fact, we will be placing orders for a few of them when they are released. The one thing that's best about this car is that it makes you (smile). You look at it and you (smile), you sit in it and you (smile), you put the pedal to the floor you (smile), you think about the car you (smile), you know one day Alfa will return to the US with a fleet of its best products yet you almost want to (smile) (smile) (smile).
italcarguy - 2007 159 Q4 Sportwagon! [AlfaBB.com]
Alfa Romeo 149: A Parade of Spec Designs [internal]