The Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon: Ride And Handling

Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon

Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon

The suspension design and all-new chassis of the new Alfa 159 Sportwagon are identical to those of the 159 saloon. They are the outcome of an extensive and thorough development process aimed at achieving the highest possible levels of driveability and handling appropriate to a sporting marque, combined with optimum safety and travelling comfort. The suspension system combines revisions to the proven high double wishbone set-up of the outgoing Alfa 156 with a new, highly sophisticated multilink rear configuration. The whole system is designed to promote smooth, accurate steering response, and exceptional stability and controllability - even when close to adhesion limits - along with first class body control allied to remarkable comfort over all road surface conditions.

The 3.2 JTS Alfa 159 Sportwagon further benefits from Alfa Romeo’s Q4 four-wheel drive transmission; a mechanical system enhanced by cutting edge electronic technology to guarantee the smoothest possible power delivery and optimum traction under all driving conditions.

Front Suspension

The Alfa 159 Sportwagon’s high double wishbone front suspension is a development of the set-up so successfully employed on the Alfa 156. Its design, based on that widely employed in motorsport, offers precise control of wheel movement and affords the new Alfa Romeo an outstanding dynamic performance and extremely sensitive, accurate steering.

Engineering improvements to the aluminium upper and lower arm set-up include an increase in the size of the coaxial damper spring to improve its capacity to absorb poor road surfaces, the use of a pair of dry friction sliding bushes to the aluminium upper arm for strength, reliability and a more progressive action, and a relocation of the steering axis closer to the centre of the wheel for improved cornering response.

Additionally, the suspension is now connected to the chassis via a closed geometry subframe, which is stiffer than the previously employed crossbeam.

From a dynamic viewpoint, the high double wishbone layout combines long wheel travel with outstanding control. This configuration offers the Alfa 159 Sportwagon maximum tyre grip, improved traction under extreme conditions, a self-alignment effect proportional to the lateral acceleration applied in a corner, superior steering precision and sensitivity, graduated steering wheel effort up to adhesion limits, and the minimisation of pitching under extreme acceleration or braking.

Rear Suspension

At the rear, the Alfa 159 Sportwagon employs a new multilink suspension system to maximise driveability, handling performance and ride comfort. Through a combination of transverse and longitudinal links, the system facilitates extremely precise wheel movements in the vertical plane, whilst limiting longitudinal and transverse displacements to maintain optimum wheel positioning under load. Pitching is reduced, and maximum stability under braking is ensured.

Key features of the new multilink configuration include a higher anchorage point of the longitudinal link to facilitate a longer, more flexible suspension stroke, an enlarged bi-tube spring damper unit for improved ride comfort, and an aluminium upright with a high rigidity hub supporting the connection bushes for both camber and longitudinal links. In addition, the new set-up features a rear hydraulic bush to optimise filtering of poor road surfaces, and a high yield steel crossbeam isolated from the bodyshell by four elastic bushes to dampen high frequency vibration.

continues... | Part Two
Published 6 June 2006 Melanie Carter

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