On 9 October 1997, the Alfa 156 was introduced to the international press in Lisbon. This was the turning point of Alfa's sales fortunes and image. At that moment, Alfa Romeo reclaimed its own long tradition and its rightful place within the pantheon of prestige sports car manufacturers.
We did not have to wait for long to see the results. The new car won appreciation from the press, who voted it 'Car of the Year 1998' (this award was followed by 35 more accolades). The other motor manufacturers also had to sit up and take notice. It did not take them long to follow suite and extend their ranges to include the Common Rail turbodiesel engines you first saw on the Alfa saloon.
These results were already gratifying enough. But Alfa Romeo continued to improve its model. This was borne out by the Alfa Sportwagon in 2000, a car whose shape and content immediately singled it out as much more than an ordinary station wagon version of the Alfa 156. Then came the 156 Selespeed, equipped with a 2.0 T. Spark 16v and a robotised gearbox with steering wheel controls. These were then joined by another Alfa 156 with 2.5 V6 24v engine that offered customers Alfa Romeo's version of automatic transmission, i.e. a device created to ensure maximum comfort under all conditions but able to guarantee all the driving satisfaction of a manual device when required.
In 2002, we welcomed the revised Alfa 156 and Sportwagon - together with the Alfa 156 GTA - another stage of the progress that saw an increase in the comfort and safety content, more creature comforts and the introduction of a brand-new petrol engine with direct injection (2.0 JTS). Not to mention the fact that a few months later we saw the world debut of the brand new 103 kW (140 bhp) 1.9 JTD Multijet 16v, forerunner of the second Common Rail turbodiesel generation. Now it is the turn of the New Alfa 156 and Sportwagon to confirm the model's vitality. These two cars, reinterpreted by the famous designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, maintain the car's underlying attribute of a vivacious personality coupled with outstanding dynamism. This vitality is the secret that has turned positive, immediate acclaim into lasting success.