Tuesday 12 April 2011
Back to die-cast...
Built to replace the 75 and based on the parent Fiat Group's Tipo 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.D.E.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.
- engine: 4 cylinders
- capacity: 1995 cc
- horsepower: 143 HP
- gearbox: 5+1
- top speed: 205 km/h