The introduction this month of 1.9 JTD turbodiesel versions of Alfa Romeo’s 147, 156 and 156 Sportwagon range, not only reflects today’s growing demand for tax-efficient motoring among drivers of well-equipped, prestige saloons and hatchbacks in the UK, but also Alfa Romeo’s continuing pre-eminence in the field of diesel engine technology.
Significant 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 business users and private buyers in the UK. And while sales of lower-medium and medium sector petrol cars actually decreased last year, diesel sales increased by a remarkable 37.8 per cent.
Fiat Group, which was first to the passenger car market with direct injection diesel technology back in 1986, was last year awarded the prestigious Economist Innovation Award (Energy and Environment category) for its ground- breaking work in developing the ‘common rail’ diesel technology that is now used by every major European car maker.
The common rail high pressure direct injection diesel fuel system was designed, and initially developed, by the Fiat Group in the 1980s, with contributions from Magneti Marelli and the Fiat Research Centre. The system was handed over to Bosch for the final stages of development and industrial production in the early 1990s, and the first production car to use it was the Alfa Romeo 156 JTD in 1997.
JTD technology has revolutionised diesel engine design, and allows the latest proven Alfa JTD units to set new dynamic standards and compete head-on with petrol engines across nearly all criteria, while still retaining the core diesel values of reliability, low maintenance, reduced CO2 emissions and exceptionally low fuel consumption figures.