Some additional details about the new 156 here: http://www.italiaspeed.com/
Here's the excerpt:
"The new Alfa 156 and Alfa Sportwagon forcefully express all the creative vitality of the brand, a special way of appreciating motor cars that is very far from thinking of them as simply useful means of transport.
Alfa Romeos have always been designed for people with expectations that go beyond the strictly necessary into the realm of emotions: aesthetic taste, a passion for sophisticated engineering, the sheer pleasure of sitting behind the wheel and an expression of one’s own personality. Engineers at the Alfa Romeo Business Unit took these ideas as a basis for fashioning two cars that are very different from the current models.
A quick look at the outside tells you all you need to know. As revised by hand of Giorgetto Giugiaro himself, the New Alfa 156 and Sportwagon represent an ideal marriage between sportiness and elegance, performance and formal balance.
The Italian designer explains: “The reinterpretation of a winning model such as the Alfa 156 had to convey maximum determination and aggression to give it even greater appeal. Hence the decision to model the exterior shape to bring it up to date and also to adjust the volumes and sizes”.
Thus you see a new front end with significant changes to the grille, which is now bigger and features new design headlights. The lower bumper area is also narrower than on the previous version. The end result is a front end that simultaneously oozes sportiness and class.
At the rear, the Italdesign team has gone for style. The tail-lights have thus been slightly reworked so that their lower part is emphasised by two slight side-whiskers and the upper part by a motif that frames the Alfa logo and emphasises the rear bonnet volume.
Giorgetto Giugiaro’s changes respect distinctive brand features, emphasise the features of a winning model and confirm, once again, the profitable relationship that Alfa Romeo has enjoyed with the great master of his trade, who was voted ‘Designer of the ’Century’ by more than 120 international journalists at Las Vegas in 1999.
The New Alfa 156 and Sportwagon feature many changes to the exterior. But the improvements do not end here. The interior has also been enhanced by major and minor styling changes that alter its appearance. The aim: to increase the sensation of light and elegance while pursuing the close family ties with the Alfa 166 and the Alfa 147.
The facia has been completely revised and its good looks have been enhanced by a selection of three colourways: black on beige, black on grey, dark grey on light grey (tone on tone matches). The current sporty black facia complements these alternatives. The New Alfa 156 and Sportwagon are the only cars in this band to offer a leather-trimmed facia, ideal for sporty yet sophisticated customers.
The trims vary according to version and specification level and take the form of specially made cloth designed for quality and good looks. In particular, the new model now features Alfatex, a new high-tech cloth used to trim seats and door panels. Alfatex was patented by Alfa Romeo and takes the form of a microfibre used to improve transpiration and assure outstanding seating comfort and great elegance. On leather versions, special care has been taken over the seat and under-facia trim colour matches (black, grey or beige).
The centre of the facia reveals another new detail. The upper part features a multifunction display in an innovative, up-to-date design, while the lower part contains a built-in radio and mono-zone or automatic dual zone climate control system controls according to the specification. The radio, complemented by tape or CD player according to the specification, also offers an outstanding sound system designed and built for the passenger compartment that consists of six speakers and delivers a power output of 4x40 Watts.
Certain features such as the upper central diffuser outlets or seat adjustment controls have been carried over from the previous model. The outstandingly ergonomic position of the mirror and foglight controls is also unchanged. The same applies to the central console where the sensation of space has been increased by oddments compartments.
The exterior and interior have thus been revised in a quest for the sporty elegance that has always been written into Alfa’s DNA. But all these good looks do not an Alfa Romeo car make. Because, as the Brand’s new advertising slogan ‘Beauty is not enough’ puts it, an Alfa car is also a triumph of substance over form. Beginning with the outstanding engines that have always set Alfa at the pinnacle of world automotive engineering, often ahead of prestigious competitors. The brand is used to setting the benchmark that all must follow. This was certainly true for the Common Rail direct injection turbodiesel engines that were launched with the Alfa 156 in 1997. This world first immediately won over the public and experts alike for its sophisticated engineering qualities. In 2002, the Alfa 156 brought us another first: the 103 kW - 140 bhp) 1.9 JTD Multijet 16v engine, forerunner of the second generation of these power units, combined with a sporty 6-speed gearbox.
Now comes another record. Because the new models now bring us another world first, i.e. the mighty 129 kW (175 bhp) 2.4 JTD 5 cylinder Multijet 20v engine. This is the second member of the Common Rail power unit family to offer Multijet, multivalve technology and it is accordingly identified by the name ‘m-jet’ under the number of valves. This brand new power unit is flanked by the 2.0 JTS, Alfa Romeo’s take on the direct injection petrol engine. JTS technology, initially adopted on the Alfa 156 in 2002, allows engine power and performance to be increased without affecting fuel consumption. The system benefits from a stratified charge lean burn system at engine speeds up to 1500 rpm. The 2.0 JTS also comes with a Selespeed gearbox to assure customers a sporty, comfortable and safe drive in any situation.
The array of engines on the New Alfa 156 and Sportwagon is complemented by the tried and tested 85 kW (115 bhp) 1.9 JTD turbodiesel engine and the dependable petrol-driven 88 kW (120 bhp) 1.6 T. Spark, 103 kW (140 bhp) 1.8 T. Spark and 141 kW (192 bhp) 2.5 V6 24v units (with manual gearbox or automatic Q-System transmission).
The latter is Alfa Romeo’s version of an automatic transmission, i.e. a device created to assure the greatest comfort under all conditions yet able to offer the same driving satisfaction as a manual gearbox if the customer chooses.
All in all, a range of power units that accentuates the effervescent temperament of both cars in perfect harmony with Alfa’s illustrious sporting tradition. Italian style coupled with searing performance. On this model, this magical combination of qualities underpins an inimitable personality that immediately singles out a car bearing the Alfa Romeo shield from all others on the road. Now the New Alfa 156 and Alfa Sportwagon bring their exclusive world ever closer to their potential customers. For example, the product range has been extended to include an Impression specification as well the Progression and Distinctive versions to increase the buying opportunities. The new models also offer TI (Turismo Internazionale) versions, a description that Alfa Romeo once assigned only to the cars with the most sports equipment. Nowadays those two simple yet glorious letters reappear on a special range that may be requested on 147, 156 and Sportwagon models.
Alfa Romeo is much more than performance alone. It also stands for driving and travelling comfort, class-topping safety and exclusive equipment. Examples include the suspension layout (the front is a high double-wishbone configuration, the rear is MacPherson strut type) that assures the car peak dynamic performance and also outstanding comfort. And also: a dual zone automatic climate control system that allows the driver and front passenger to adjust air temperature separately as if each had their own personal heater or air conditioner. Interior microclimate quality is also controlled by an Air Quality Sensor that automatically activates air recirculation when the car is travelling around town, in tunnels or in traffic jams.
Comfort also means automatic devices that reduce the demands of driving on the motorist. Or Cruise Control, so useful on motorway trips because it automatically maintains a cruising speed set by the driver. Or a rain sensor that automatically activates the windscreen wipers at the first drops of rain. Or a sensor that makes parking manoeuvres easier.
Safety is also top-level on the New Alfa 156 and Sportwagon. Active safety is assured by the model’s extraordinary roadholding and driving precision backed by a VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control). This electronic device controls the car’s dynamic stability and cuts in under near-limit conditions to help the driver control the car for greater driving satisfaction. When the driver changes down suddenly under conditions of poor grip, the MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung) cuts in to restore torque to the engine and prevent slip due to wheel lock. The Alfa Romeo VDC has also been praised by the international motoring press due to its ability to ensure driving satisfaction even under sporting conditions.
The best possible visibility under all driving and weather conditions is assured by Xenon headlights (optional). These offer a lighting intensity and duration twice that of normal halogen headlights and are also more efficient (85 instead of 25 lumen per Watt).
As far as passive safety is concerned, the New Alfa 156 and Alfa Sportwagon are now fitted - as standard on all versions - with window bags that drop down along the windows in the case of side impact to safeguard the heads of front and rear occupants. Isofix attachments to the left and right of the rear seat also secure child seats easily and safely.
All the state-of-the-art computerised and telematic devices you could want are also available as options: pictogram navigation system, remote control with handsfree set, CONNECT all-in-one system and a Hi-Fi system by Bose®."