Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon estate (2005-2012)
“Not as practical as the biggest estates, but the Alfa Romeo 159 is undeniably one of the most stylish.”
- One of the more stylish estate cars
- Wide engine and trim choice
- Cabin materials feel good quality
- Not as practical as a BMW 3 Series
- Owners rate reliability as poor
- Resale values are poor
The Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon estate sacrifices some of its space and practicality for style. Its boot simply isn’t as big as rivals like the Ford Mondeo or Skoda Superb, but the 159 is better to look at than both and still manages to offer a user-friendly boot. Engine and trim options are the same as for the 159 saloon, so all cars are generously equipped. The engines are mostly quiet and punchy, although fuel economy could be better.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The bigger petrol and diesel engines are quite thirsty compared to those from BMW and Mercedes. The 1.9 JTDm diesel ECO returns 54.3mpg and emissions of 138g/km, but it can feel sluggish. Performance comes at a cost: the 2.4-litre JTDm has 210bhp but emits 179g/km, which is poor for a diesel. The 25.7mpg 3.2-litre V6 petrol engine is beaten for economy by some much more powerful cars, too. The pick of the range is the 200bhp 1750 TBi turbo petrol, with a respectable 34.9mpg.
Engines, drive & performance
While the Alfa Romeo 159 isn’t as sporty as its 156 predecessor, it’s more spacious and comfortable, with an improved driving position. It remains fun to drive too, with accurate, light steering and plenty of grip in corners - which is aided by a host of electronic stability control systems. Of the seven engines, only the 120bhp 1.9 JTDm diesel feels slow, while the petrol engines have plenty of power, even from low revs. A highlight is the 1750 TBi turbo petrol engine, which sounds great and feels nearly as powerful as the thirsty 3.2 V6 JTS.
Interior & comfort
Alfa Romeo has done a great job of improving the overall comfort of its cars, and the 159 Sportwagon is no exception. Front and rear passengers will find plenty of headroom, and rear legroom is acceptable for most adults. The only real issue is tyre rumble from the bigger wheels fitted to top-spec Lusso and TI versions. Models fitted with these wheels tend to be uncomfortable over potholes, too.
Practicality & boot space
The 445-litre boot can’t match compact executive rivals such as the BMW 3 Series for space (at 460 litres). In fact, the boot isn’t not much bigger than the 159 saloon’s. But it’s a useful square shape, the tailgate opening is large and there’s a ski hatch built into the rear seatback. The back seats fold down with ease, but they don’t create a completely flat loading space. Storage in the cabin is lacking, too, with shallow door pockets and a small bin under the front central armrest. The glove compartment is big enough for cans and small bottles.
Reliability & safety
Safety is a strong point, as the 159 has a full five-star Euro NCAP rating. The whole range comes with six airbags, traction control and emergency brake assist. If only reliability was as strong. Buyers criticise the 159’s reliability, even though its cabin quality seems good. In the 2010 Driver Power survey, the 159 placed 82nd out of 100 for reliability.
Price, value for money & options
On the face of it, the 159 Sportwagon is keenly priced, undercutting prestige rivals from BMW and Mercedes while offering more standard equipment. Lusso and TI versions come with luxuries such as heated leather seats, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control and parking sensors, but these models are expensive. Cheaper Turismo and Elegante trims offer the best value and are still well equipped. However, resale values are poor, so while the 159 is cheaper than its rivals, you’ll lose more money than you would on an Audi A4 Avant or BMW 3 Series Touring, for example.