Marking the first appearance here of a groundbreaking, second generation common rail direct injection turbodiesel, the Alfa Romeo 147 1.9 JTD 16V goes on sale in the UK this month, extending the diesel 'reach' of the three and five door model range, which already includes 115 bhp 1.9 JTD versions.
The Alfa 147's remarkable new 1.9 litre twin overhead camshaft, four-valves-per-cylinder, multijet engine combines a robust power delivery of 140 bhp at 4000 rpm and an outstanding torque figure of 224 lb.ft at just 2000 rpm, with a reduction in noise levels of between 3 and 6 decibels according to rpm and running temperature, minimal fuel consumption, and low exhaust emissions.
Mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox, the Alfa 147 1.9 JTD 16V will accelerate from 0-62 mph in 9.1 seconds and achieve a top speed of 129 mph, whilst returning an impressive 47.9 mpg over a combined cycle, and CO2 emissions of just 157 g/km.
Wholesale advances in turbocharging, noise reduction and refinement, allied to recent changes in company car tax assessment linking the amount paid to CO2 emissions, have caused a re-evaluation of diesel power among both business users and private buyers in the UK.
Whilst European sales of petrol engined cars in the lower-medium and medium sectors actually fell last year, diesel sales have grown rapidly from around 15% to nearly 25% in the past three years, with a projected rise to 28% for 2003. In Europe, one in three cars sold in 2002 was a diesel, a figure expected to rise to 50% of this market by 2007.