Alfa Romeo 155

The Alfa Romeo 155 is a compact executive car produced under the Italian Alfa Romeo marque between 1992 and 1998.

Design

Built to replace the 75 and based on the parent Fiat Group’s Type Three platform, the 155 was somewhat larger in dimension than the 75 but evolved its styling from that of its predecessor. The 155 was designed by Italian design house I.DE.A Institute. A exceptional drag coefficient of 0.29 was achieved with the body design. The design of the 155 allowed also big boot space, 525 litres (115 imp gal; 139 US gal). The single most significant technical change from the 75 was the change to a front-wheel drive layout. This new configuration gave cost and packaging benefits but many Alfa die-hards and the automotive press lamented the passing of the “purer” rear-wheel drive layout on a car from this sporting marque — the 155 was considered not in the tradition of Alfa’s sporting saloons. Also available was the 155 Q4 which had a 2.0 litre turbocharged engine and a permanent four-wheel drive powertrain both derived from the Integrale; it was essentially a Lancia Integrale with a different body. The new model came in “Sport” and “Super” guises. The Sport had a slightly lowered ride height and more aggressive dampers while the Super had the option of wooden trim and electronically controlled dampers and seat controls. Reception of the new model was generally luke-warm. The 75 had been conceived prior to Fiat’s acquisition of the Alfa brand, so as “the last real Alfa” it cast rather a shadow over the 155; the loss of rear-wheel drive was frequently cited as the main cause of the disappointment. Nevertheless, the 155 was entered in Touring Car racing and was successful in every major championship it entered which gradually improved its image. Belatedly the factory introduced a wider version in 1995 (the “wide-body”) which as well as a wider track and revised steering based on racing experience or requirements, also brought in new 16-valve engines for the 1.8 and 2.0 litre and also some improvements to cabin materials and build quality. The all wheel drive version, the Q4, was discontinued but its V6 engine continued to be offered ont front wheel drive versions. There were several Sport Packs available, including a race-inspired body kit (spoiler and side skirts) and black or graphite coloured 16″ Speedline wheels. The more genteel could opt for the Super which came with wood inserts in the cabin and silver painted alloy wheels. The 155 was never produced as a Sportwagon (Alfa’s term for an estate / station wagon) but Sbarro made a proposal for such a vehicle in 1994. Production of the 155 ceased in 1998 when the 155 was replaced by the 156 which was a further development in terms of quality and refinement and finally moved away from the wedge styling — leaving the 155 as the pinnacle of that particular design stream which dated back to 1977 with the dramatic square styling of the Giulietta Nuova.

Timeline

1992: 155 launched 1993: Grill changed from flushed to recessed 1994: 155 Silverstone introduced to the British market, 155 Q4 and turbodiesels to some markets 1995: New “widebody” series 2 155 launched with wider track, initially only with 2.0 16v engine. Quickrack fitted 1996: Widebody with 1.8 16v engine introduced 1998: Production ends

Features

The 155 was initially released with 1.7 L Twin Spark, 1.8 L Twin Spark, and 2.0 L Twin Spark petrol engines, the latter two with variable valve timing. The 1.7 L was not sold in the United Kingdom. Two four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engines, of 1.9 L (92 PS (68 kW; 91 hp)) and 2.5 L (125 PS (92 kW; 123 hp)) were available in some markets, but again not the UK. At the top of the 155 range were the 2.5 L V6, using a (166 PS (122 kW; 164 hp)) engine derived from the 3.0 L V6 used in the larger Alfa Romeo 164, and the Q4 which used a drivetrain derived from the Lancia Delta Integrale which meant a 190 PS (140 kW; 190 hp) 2.0 L 16V turbocharged engine and permanent four-wheel drive. The Q4 also incorporated three differential gears (normal at the front, epicyclic at the centre (including a Ferguson viscous coupling) and torsen self-locking at the rear). Both the 2.5 V6 and Q4 models were also available with electronically adjustable suspension with two damper settings (automatic and sport). The most notable special edition was the “Silverstone” edition released in the UK which was known as the “Formula” in Europe: this was released as a homologation exercise to allow Alfa Romeo to compete in the British Touring Car Championship race series and consequently came with a bolt-on aero-kit consisting of an adjustable rear spoiler and extendible front air splitter. The Silverstone was a lighter but no more powerful version of the 1.8 L, even though the race car it was homologating had a 2.0 L engine. This anomaly came about because the 1.8 L engine block, with its narrower bore, allowed Alfa to use a longer stroke on the racing car and stay within the 2.0 L capacity limit. The Silverstone was only available in either Alfa red or Black paintwork with plain, unpainted bumpers.

1995 facelift

In 1995 the 155 was given an extensive revamp resulting in wider front and rear tracks with subtle enlargement to the wheel arches to accommodate the changes underneath. The revised car also received a quicker steering rack, with 2.2 turns lock to lock (initially only on the 2.0 , but later followed by the 1.8 L). The 4-cylinder cars retained the twin spark ignition system but received Alfa-designed 16-valve cylinder heads with belt-driven camshafts based on engine blocks of Fiat design. They replaced the elderly but indestructible all-Alfa 8-valve, chain-driven camshaft motors of the earlier models. The 2.5 L v6 continued in wide body form (but without the steering changes) while the Q4 was discontinued. In Europe the 1.7 L Twin Spark was replaced by a 1.6 L 16-valve Twin Spark. Some 8-valve engines continued in a wide body car in some markets. The wide-bodied cars also received revised interiors and equipment specifications to keep the cars competitive in the showroom. The wide body (“Series 2″) 155s can be distinguished from their earlier counterparts by their flared front and smooth rear wheel arches (the latter replacing the lip round the wheel arch of the original). They also sported round or oblong indicator side-repeaters and had their model badges moved to below the rear lights rather than having them above.

Alfa Romeo 155
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