The new Alfa Romeo 147, first shown to the world at the recent Paris Motor Show, now makes its debut in Italy as heir to a winning model that, four years after its launch, has not only met its ambitious targets but exceeded them beyond all expectations. This is apparent in the praise of the specialised press, who have awarded the car no fewer than 27 prizes to date, thus confirming the success of a brand-new approach to sportiness that encompasses elegance, comfort, safety and sophisticated technology. The car has received the following critical plaudits: ‘Car of the Year 2001’, ‘Volante d’Oro’, ‘Trophées du design 2000’ and ‘Auto Importado del Ańo en Brasil 2002’. And accolades from readers: ‘Auto Europa 1’ in 2001 and ‘L’auto che preferisco’ in 2001, 2003 and 2004.
Altogether the Alfa Romeo 147 has been a great critical success and this is borne out by the opinion of the nearly 360,000 motorists who chose the car between October 2000 and September 2004. This gratifying response is much better than we hoped for and shows that the Alfa Romeo 147 has completely fulfilled its mission: to improve on its predecessor in terms of quality and gain a firm foothold in the top part of the segment that is now the domain of a select band of prestige compact sports models.
The Alfa Romeo 147 has therefore lived up to its promise and managed to achieve major goals. The credit is definitely due to the model’s solid grounding: the best of Italian design combined with state-of-the-art engineering and a very good mix of power units and gearboxes. These have been complemented by a steady flow of new features to hold the public’s attention: the 5-door version, the mighty Alfa Romeo 147 GTA, the CONNECT versions and Alfa Romeo 147 TI versions and the adoption of JTD engines with a Selespeed gearbox. These significant products show us that any car’s success is the result of a lucky break, a flash of stylistic intuition backed by research into new taste trends, emerging customer needs and projections relating to market and rival model trends. And then this complicated equation is judged by the harshest yardstick: time. True success will last and last: and now it is the turn of the New 147 to take up the baton.
The new model enhances everyday driving satisfaction to the point where an ordinary trip becomes an experience packed with emotion. All this comes naturally to a model with the will to race in its genes. These attributes are not expressed by any great showiness but rather by great roadholding in any situation and over any road surface. Grown-up sports aficionados will find that this exuberant compact car meets all their need for power and performance backed by total safety at all times. The new Alfa Romeo 147 complements its thoroughbred sports car attributes with a touch of style that allows it to thread its way through European city streets with aplomb. It is a car for those who love to make their mark quietly through well-bred quality rather than ostentation.
The new compact car guarantees thrilling performance with a touch of Italian flair that makes it a car with unmistakable styling: well-proportioned yet muscular. Compared to the previous model, the new Alfa Romeo 147’s looks have been updated inside and out. It is also bigger and more powerful with more personality. It introduces a number of new products in the field of mechanicals and equipment, including the spirited 150 bhp 1.9 JTD 16v M-Jet engine, a brand new robotised gearbox, a new Comfort suspension and the most sophisticated safety devices: including VDC, ASR, ABS with EBD and curtain-bags.
The new Alfa Romeo 147, available in 3-door or 5-door versions, forcefully expresses 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. The Alfa Romeo stylists and engineers took these premises as the base for a car that is quite different from the present version.
A quick look at the outside tells you all you need to know. The car retains the tried and tested box shapes of the 147 and the biggest changes are reserved for the front end. The changes to the rear are more minor. The car features a new grille that is now bigger and enhanced by new design headlights. The final result is a front end that oozes sportiness and class. It also looks more aggressive because the grille has been lowered in relation to the bonnet. This impression is reinforced by the elongated appearance of the headlights – a lip of glass enclosing three round chrome elements on a black background – and the air intake that is divided by three vertical elements, one in the middle and two at the sides. The overhang is also longer while the bumpers and wing are new.
At the rear, the designers reworked the tailgate and made slight changes to the tail-lights to make them more stylish: the light clusters have now been lengthened into a more triangular shape emphasised by a chrome moulding. The triangular motif so typical of Alfa Romeo design is referred to explicitly in the New 147. For example, the protruding shield that describes a jutting corner when viewed from above is emphasised at the front by the design of the bumper. The stylistic changes are based on triangular shapes and sloping lines that increase the perception of dynamism and overall sleekness.
Inside the new Alfa Romeo 147 retains the same acclaimed driving position and the excellent balance between the compact, embracing boxes, uncluttered surfaces and smooth, spare lines. Some exterior traits have been changed to underscore the look of sporty elegance that we have come to expect from Alfa Romeo cars.
Firstly, a new combination (grey on grey) has been introduced for the two-tone facia which joins the existing classic combinations of black on black, black on grey and black on beige, though the latter have also been revised through the introduction of a more sophisticated ‘water buffalo’ embossing. The new Alfa Romeo 147 features new instrument and control graphics, on a silver or black background, designed for clarity and legibility, a new ‘cannelloni’ trim for the seats and door panels enhanced by a chrome frame that highlights the tweeters in the door handle panel – and a brand new design rear head-restraint that can be lowered for better visibility.
CUTTING-EDGE ENGINES AND MECHANICAL SYSTEMS
The range offers three petrol and three turbodiesel units. Beginning with two 1.6 Twin Spark 16 units developing power outputs of 105 and 120 bhp and torques of 14.3 and 14.9 kgm respectively; and a 2.0 16v unit developing 150 bhp (torque of 18.5 kgm) again from the Twin Spark family that is so popular with all Alfa Romeo customers.
The turbodiesel units are two spirited 1.9 JTD engines developing power outputs of 100 and 115 bhp and a mighty 1.9 JTD 16v M-Jet that develops a power of 150 bhp at 4000 rpm and a torque of 31 kgm (305 Nm) at 2000 rpm. The power units belong to the latest generation of JTD engines, i.e. Multijet and multivalve, and are notable for their great driving satisfaction and truly searing performances.
The gearboxes are also new. More specifically, the new Alfa Romeo 147 offers a new robotised gearbox that is a development of the renowned Selespeed. The interface of the new unit is even more user-friendly and intuitive but the driver does not have to give up the satisfaction and fun of a manual transmission.
The new Alfa Romeo 147 benefits for the first time from a Comfort specification that combines double wishbones at the front with an advanced MacPherson configuration at the rear. As far as the customer is concerned, all this means greater driving comfort without detracting from handling.
150 bhp 1.9 JTD 16v M-Jet
At the end of 2002, Alfa Romeo introduced its 140 bhp 1.9 16v M-Jet, the first of the second generation of Common Rail engines in the world. The engine was adopted on the Alfa Romeo 147, 156 and Sportwagon with a sporty six-speed manual gearbox and has now been further developed for the Alfa GT, now offering a power output of 150 bhp. This engine is also used on the new Crosswagon Q4 – and from now on also on the new Alfa Romeo 147. The unit is a 4 cylinder in line engine with a bore of 82 millimetres and a stroke of 90.4 mm, capable of delivering a power output of 110 kW at 4000 rpm and a torque of 305 Nm (31 kgm) at 2000 rpm.
The new turbodiesel has undergone several engineering changes to increase performance and engine torque at low speeds and to reduce noise and vibration levels. For example, the Common Rail system used on the 1.9 JTD 16v M-Jet includes two new strategies for automatically calibrating and balancing the diesel injected to lower noise and reduce vibration. It goes without saying that, so equipped, the new Alfa Romeo 147 guarantees extremely attractive performance figures: the top speed is 208 km/h and acceleration from 0 – 100 km/h takes place in 8.9 seconds. All this comes with very frugal fuel consumption:
- 8.0 l/100 km over an urban cycle.
- 4.7 l/100 km over an extraurban cycle.
- 5.9 l/100 km over a combined cycle.
The Multijet system, secret of second generation JTD engines
The underlying principles of second generation turbodiesel engines remain the same, i.e. high injection pressure and electronic injector control. But one extra feature has been added: during each engine cycle, the number of injections increases over and above the current number of two. In this way, the same amount of diesel is burnt inside the cylinder but in several portions to achieve smoother combustion.
The advantages include lower running noise, reduced emissions and a 6-7% increase in performance. All this comes with a level of engine efficiency that improves car handling still further. These results are not to be underestimated, particularly because they are obtained with an engine that represents an incredible leap forward from prechamber diesels and even improves on first generation JTD engines. The secret of the Multijet engine lies in the control unit that governs the electric injector opening and closure system (and also in the injectors themselves). The crucial element is the electronic control unit itself that can perform a set of injections that may be very closely spaced.
Fiat Auto’s researchers developed the part (together with the injectors) especially for this application. It is designed to deliver the multiple injections that assure the designer more accurate control of pressures and temperatures developed inside the combustion chamber and also more efficient use of air taken into the cylinders.
This enables further goals to be achieved: quieter combustion, reduced emissions and increased performance.
The Multijet system is underpinned by long years of research. Our engineers began by resolving the problem of limits imposed by the control units. Then they went on to map the benefits they could achieve by plotting different multiple injection sequences (two secondary injections very close to the main injection; one secondary injection not too close to the main injection plus two closely-spaced secondary injections; one secondary injection and then two main injections close together after a certain period etc.) against different engine service conditions: in the idling region; with low loads and low rpm; with high rpm and moderate load; with low rpm and high load etc.
The study revealed the potential of the system and showed that great benefits are achievable in all cases, though these tend to focus on one field or another according to the type of sequence chosen and the engine service area targeted. In some cases, for example, the priority is to reduce start-up times and fume levels, in other cases it is to increase torque and reduce noise while in others it is to reduce emissions and ensure a quieter drive.
And now this research strand has led to the creation of the Multijet engines: another first for the Fiat Group in the diesel engine field. But we had been putting in a lot of hard work behind the scenes since 1986, the date that marked the arrival of the Croma TDI, the first direct injection diesel vehicle in the world.
At that time, this represented a true engineering breakthrough that was later adopted by other manufacturers. Direct diesel injection engines offered better performance and lower fuel consumption but failed to resolve the problem of excessive engine noise at low rpms and while speeding up or slowing down. So work began on a more advanced direct injection system and a few years later this led to the development of the Common Rail principle and the Unijet system.
The idea first came from the Zurich University research laboratories where scientists were working on an injection system that had never before been applied to a vehicle, i.e. the Common Rail system. The idea is simple yet revolutionary. If you continue to push diesel into a tank, the pressure inside will rise and the tank itself will become a hydraulic accumulator (or rail), i.e. a reserve of pressurised fuel ready for use. Three years later, in 1990, the Unijet system developed by Magneti Marelli, Fiat Research Centre and Elasis on the Common Rail principle entered the pre-production stage. This stage was complete in 1994, when Fiat Auto started to look for a partner with superlative knowledge of diesel engine injection systems. The final stage of the project, i.e. completion of development and industrial production, was eventually entrusted to Robert Bosch.
Now our story has reached 1997 and the launch date of the Alfa 156 JTD with its revolutionary turbodiesel engine. Compared to conventional diesel power units, the JTD guarantees an average improvement in performance of 12% together with a 15% reduction in fuel consumption. These results meant that cars fitted with the engine were an immediate hit.
Now the time is ripe for the second generation of JTD engines, the Multijet and multivalve units: in 2002 with the 1.9 16v M-Jet (forerunner of this new family of multipoint injection engines) in 2003 with the 1.9 upgraded to 150 bhp for the Alfa Romeo GT and the 129 kW (175 bhp) 2.4 JTD Multijet 20v available on Alfa Romeo 166, Alfa Romeo 156 and Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon models. Now comes the turn of the new Alfa Romeo 147 to enjoy all the benefits of the 150 bhp 1.9 JTD 16v M-Jet.
‘Easy Speed’ gearbox
The new robotised ‘Easy Speed’ gearbox is a development of the current Selespeed unit, now with a more user-friendly interface while still guaranteeing the satisfaction and entertainment of a manual transmission. As on the Selespeed, this system is designed to automate the clutch controls and gear lever of a manual gearbox through an electrohydraulic servo device.
Over and above the benefits of the Selespeed, the new device also offers drivers a particularly intuitive interface. Unlike the Selespeed, the lever is multistable, i.e. it allows the customer to check his position at any time (N Neutral – R Reverse – D Drive).
Two operating modes are available: in Manual mode, the driver engages the gears by means of a lever positioned on the tunnel. In Automatic mode, the electronic system takes control and decides when gear changes are required on the basis of two strategies, the first adjusted for driving comfort (NORMAL) and the second adjusted for a more sporty drive (SPORT).
In detail, this is how the new device works in Manual mode: a simple push on the lever is sufficient to ensure a fast, accurate gear change. Electric pulses from the lever satisfy the driver’s gear shift wishes on the basis of commands issued by the control unit that controls the hydraulic kit.
The system operating software screens the above input and uses the information to make gear shifts designed for comfort or a sporty drive in manual or automatic mode with the application of a range of operating strategies. The control unit interprets the customer’s requirements by mapping the pedal position and the engine rpm.
A simple lever request to move into a higher gear (by moving the lever toward ‘+’) or lower gear (towards the ‘-‘ symbol) under the conditions described above allows the driver to obtain sporty and fast or smooth and comfortable gear shifts. This operating strategy also applies in automatic mode. These aims are achieved by implementing the shift by means of a hydraulic system that manages shift speed for performance or comfort without compromise and always assures maximum system performance. While in Automatic mode, two different operating strategies are available: NORMAL and SPORT. The first is used for driving comfort while the sports function guarantees effervescent lengthening and shifting under all conditions. With both options, the system stretches to a higher ratio once the rpm level has been reached, when the engine delivers maximum torque or power. The system also detects the road gradient while in this mode: a software algorithm measures the gradient increase and modifies the gear shift point so that the best compromise is always obtained between the driver’s needs, the road condition and the vehicle’s situation (speed and rpm).
Another specific function of the system is to assess vehicle deceleration and adjust downshifting according to the level of deceleration: while in manual, therefore, the system allows downshifting particularly when the driver wishes to change down to take a bend at speed during a sporty drive. In automatic, on the other hand, it anticipates the driver’s will and makes available the most appropriate gear to maintain the required level of comfort or fuel saving.
The ease of interaction with the system and the performance increases assured by the new control strategies make the new robotised gearbox the best possible compromise for people who prefer to drive an automatic but do want to give up the satisfaction and fun of a manual transmission.
Another major new feature on the new Alfa Romeo 147 is the introduction of a Comfort suspension system. This comes as standard on versions equipped with the 150 bhp 1.9 JTD 16v M-Jet and is an option on the others. The new configuration combines a double wishbone front suspension with a MacPherson layout at the rear that guarantees greater levels of comfort without affecting handling. The front shock absorbers have therefore been modified, lengthening the rod to 13 mm (against the present 11.5) and the rod guide is in teflon. In addition, the use of these particular shocks has demanded a specific setting at both front and rear (standard production) in order to guarantee the correct suspension timing. This modification has also affected the architecture of the suspension system and not simply a specific setting with which only a damping effect is obtained. As far as customers are concerned, all these changes mean great stability and ease of control even at the limit of grip. Steering box movements are very smooth and balanced and great comfort is assured under all service and road surface conditions.
The entire range of the new car is fitted as standard with the layout that determined the success of the Alfa Romeo 156 and Alfa Romeo 147: high double wishbone at the front and a MacPherson strut layout at the rear. Then our engineers set to work to adjust the suspension to the car’s specific weight distribution and individual characteristics. As far as the front wishbone configuration is concerned, the improvement was achieved by introducing a new spring type and setting and by the adoption of a new hollow anti-roll bar. Altogether these changes allow a weight reduction of 1.7 kilograms for the same stiffness and roll qualities.
The result is a compact car with a drive that combines the great control typical of a front wheel drive with the outstanding precision and response of a sports car. The new Alfa Romeo 147 offers maximum lateral hold, fast approaches to bends and a very effective, precise steering response. This excellent on-road behaviour is aided by the rear end (a MacPherson configuration with asymmetrical arms benefiting from improved elastokinematic properties) that ensures stability in high speed manoeuvres and agility over mixed routes.
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