With head-turning looks, the 159 saloon easily wins the style award ahead of prestigious competition in the compact executive sector. Better still, the fit and finish of the Alfa isn’t far behind that of German rivals. A simple model range makes buying easy, with Turismo and Lusso trim levels available for the three petrol engines - 1.8-litre MPI. 2.2-litre JTS and 3.2-litre JTS V6 - and two diesel units - 1.9 and 2.4-litre JTDM. Buyers also have the choice of the rakish Sportwagon estate version.


In terms of interior space, the 159 loses out to the majority of its rivals, with room for rear passengers being particularly tight. At 405-litres the saloon’s boot is class competitive, although a split-fold bench is optional. Pay the extra for the top spec Lusso trim and you’ll net 17-inch alloys, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors. Classy ribbed leather seats that only come as standard on the 3.2 V6 JTS or the TI - a special edition based on the Lusso that gets bigger alloys, stiffened suspension and a bodykit.


The old 1.9 JTS petrol has been replaced by the new 1.8 MPI, which feels a little underpowered in the big Alfa. Performance improves with larger 182bhp 2.2-litre motor, while the glorious 3.2 V6 sounds great but suffers from high C02 emissions and a heavy thirst for fuel. For most drivers, one of the two diesels will make the most sense. The five-cylinder 2.4 JTDm is rapid but can only manage 35.8mpg. The smaller 1.9-litre oil-burner posts a 0 to 62mph time of 9.6 seconds – only a second behind the larger engine – but will return 40mpg

Driving experience

Head for some challenging back roads and the firmly sprung 159 impresses with its agility and composure. However, ride comfort suffers as result of the sporty set-up and the Alfa is easily upset by poor surfaces. The four-wheel-drive 3.2 JTS V6 Q4 offers as lots of pace and grip but doesn’t respond as sharply as the front-drive cars, while the Q-Tronic semi-automatic gearbox is an excellent but pricey option.

Ownership Costs

Like the smaller 147, the 159 suffers from poor residuals. The best performer is the 1.9 JTDM, which retains 40 per cent of its value after three years. But buyers will be pleased to hear that service intervals are now every 18,000 miles, while the smaller diesel engine produces just 157g/km of CO2, dropping into VED tax band D. In comparison the petrol engines suffer from high emissions and poor fuel consumption.


Thanks to a strong structure and seven airbags as standard, the Alfa achieves a maximum five star rating in the EuroNCAP crash tests. Only a lowly one star score for pedestrian safety lets the 159 down. All the models in the range come with the Italian firm’s Vehicle Dynamic Control fitted at no extra cost.