History of Alfa Romeo 156 (project 932) (v2.0)

In 1993 Alfa Romeo decided there was time to release a follower to the Alfa 155.
There were three competing designs. One from Pininfarina, one from Italdesign
and one from Alfa Romeos own design department Centro Stile (led by Walter de' Silva).
The idea was to give the new 156 the personality that the 155 never had. Centro Stile's
design combined three historic Alfa Romeos: the 1900, Giulietta and Giulia.


The new design is really unique and attracts both men and women in any age.

Alfa Romeo was in economical trouble at this time and they really needed
the 156 to be successful in order to survive. They also had the upgraded model
of the 164 on the way - the new 166. But there was not enough money to release
both models at the same time so the 166 was put on hold for about a year as
the 156 was expected to sell in higher volumes.

The interior is designed to have a sporty character. The options are Recaro sport seats, Momo leather seats or velour seats. The characteristic rpm and km/h counters are like two eyes in front of the driver and all the instruments are turned slightly towards the driver contributing to make this a drivers car.


Image is (C) Automobilia s.r.l. available in the book "Centro Stile Alfa Romeo"
Walter de' Silva discussing the design of the rear door handles.

The design from Alfas own design department (Centro Stile) was finaly chosen for the
new car. It was directly inspired and drawed with the experiences from designing
the Alfa Romeo Nuvola. Some of the last decades stylistic elements dissapeared. Only
some of the trace remains along the sides of the car and the shape of the car is a lot
more curved and not so straight lines as it used to be.

They tried to give the new car a sportiness look with references to the old gentleman
driver and the older mythical GTs. All the stylistic elements which makes any Alfa Romeo
so unique and recognizable was kept and strengthened at the front. Although it was
stylistic it is still clean and tries to evoke the presence of a strong and powerful
engine. Looking at the side of the car, it gives you associations to a wild tigers
slim belly, ready to attack.

The Alfa 156 is a result of a design operation which is extremely well thought out
and refined. It has succeded in harmonizing the tough strenght typical for the
coupé with the lightness and almost feminine grace of an elegant and sophisticated
saloon.


The floorpan is a modified floorpan from the 155 and originally from Fiat Tipo. The same
floorpan has later been used in Alfa 147.


The front suspensions are set up by double triangle wishbone with cast iron, steel and light
alloy components. The geometry also includes 4 degrees of positive castor and 6-7 degrees
of kingpin angle. The suspension provides excellent FWD grip, steering feel and precision.
At the rear there is McPhearson strouts with unequal length links used. This system gives
the rear wheels same-phase passive rear wheel stearing. Also in the rear suspention there
has been used alloy parts to reduce weight. The ABS brakes are Bosch 5.3 which includes
Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and uses four break sensors. Alfas fire preventioning
system and double airbags is standard with optional side arbags.



The 156 was launched at 9th of October 1997 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
And the year after it received the highly appreciated Car Of The Year 1998 award.
Until now the 156 and SW has sold 500.000 units and has been the largest commercial
success for Alfa Romeo ever.


Spy picture from a test drive of the new Sportwagon pre launch. The Alfa Romeo 156
Sportwagon must be the best looking estate available on today's market.

Alfa Romeo needed a new estate after the 33 Sportwagon and in 2000 the estate version
of the 156 was ready for launch. Allthough the design was more important than just adding
more space, so the boot is not as big as in a standard estate. The Sportwagon is more like a
lifestyle car then a regular estate car. In March 2000 the Sportwagon was released at the
Geneva Motor Show.


In 2001 the Alfa 156 won the STC Teams Championship. The new 156 GTA will be used in
the 2002 season and test drivers say they are very impressed by the power in the GTA.

The Alfa Romeo 156 GTA was released for the public on the 2001 Frankfurt Motor Show. The windows vere all blacked out to prevent people to see the uptated interior before the launch of the facelifted 2002 models.

In April/May 2002 the facelifted version of the 156 was released. There are only minor
differences to the exterior. The most visible differences are the bumper inserts. They
are now body coloured and likewise for the side mirrors. The most oberservant will also see
the new (optional) Xenon headlights. On the inside, the changes are far more visible. The
steering wheel is just like the one on Alfa 147. The dashboard is slightly different at the
lower end and has new controls for the Aircon which now is a dual sone like on the 147. On the
upper dash there is now a new multi function screen that displays trip computer information plus
feedback on any faults and the action required. The selespeed system has also changed and there
are now handles like on the 147, not buttons like before. The engine program also changed a bit.
The 2.0TS engine was finally replaced with the all new 2.0 JTS engine which have 165 Bhp. You
can read more about the engines in the technical section on this page. Last, but not least the
Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) stability system is now standard across the range.

On 26.11.2002 Alfa Romeo launched the news about a new Alfa Romeo 156 GTAm.
This edition has a new 3,5l V6 engine with 300bhp at 6800rpm. The light alloy
wheels are 8 x 19" while the tyres are 235/35. Compared to the GTA, the GTAm
will have bigger Brembo brakes with a diameter of 330 millimetres. This version
was though never intended for resale. What a pitty!

All the way from 2002 there was a lot of rumors about the replacement of the 156.
Pictures of the so called "Alfa 157" was rapidly spreading on the internet.


Rumors about a new Alfa 157 on sale from 2004 spread rapidly on the internet.


More rumors was about a new 157 SUV.

2003 was the year of the second facelift for the 156. Now it was time for the
Gregorio Brera inspired "face" of the car and a slightly modified boot and rear bumper.
They said that it would be hard to improve the looks of the 156, but the general
opinion is that they actually did with this new facelift. Introduced in 2004 was
a new name Crosswagon which is a SUV-light with improved ground clearence and
4x4 drive system based on the Torsen system with 58% of the power to the rear
wheels. Also the standard 156 becomes available with the Torsen 4x4 system under
the name tag Q4.



The year 2005 looks to be the final year of the 156 as the newly announced
Alfa Romeo 159 is going in production lines some time midyear. An era is over
and the success of the Alfa Romeo 156 have saved the future of Alfa Romeo.



If you do have any comments, corrections or new info that should be included on this page,
please don't hesitate to contact me!