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Alfa Romeo 156 Crosswagon Unveiled

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Alfa Romeo marks its return to the four wheel drive world with the world premier of the Alfa Crosswagon which will go on sale in the second half of 2004

Alfa Romeo has entered this segment with the aim of improving on the current crop of all road vehicles: the very Alfa dash of elegant sportiness it adds brings a completely new and unique dimension to the segment. This new stylistic approach is very apparent in the Station Wagon version. The model, designed by the Arese Style Centre, features an unmistakable Alfa Romeo shape. But the trait that really typifies the Crosswagon is crossover appeal since it combines the off-road performance of an SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) with the driving satisfaction and handling of a compact Alfa Romeo while offering a versatile, functional Station Wagon passenger compartment.

The Crosswagon owes its all-terrain look in particular to underdoor aluminium protections, special front and rear bumpers with aluminium inserts, an original bumper grille and carrier bars. In a word, the Crosswagon was created to overcome any road situation without ever stooping to compromises. This is also evident in a ride set-up that is nearly 6 centimetres higher than the Sportwagon's and the 225/55 R17 all season wheels with special compound and tread. The tyres are also designed to offer great comfort under normal driving conditions with good grip and a safe drive on snow, unsurfaced or uneven roads, mud or treacherous roads in general. Inside, the new model features an instrument panel with brand new design, a compass built into the mirror plus special carpets and mats, an elegant, new hi-tech trim for the central console and, optionally, new top quality leather upholstery. So much for the external appearance of the new Crosswagon. The real revolutionary aspect lies in its 4x4 drive system with three differentials and a Torsen C system that distributes variable torque over the front and rear wheels.

Four wheel drive The Alfa Crosswagon transmission features 4 permanently engaged drive wheels, three differentials and torque distribution preferentially to the rear. The Torsen C differential continuously modulates torque distribution between front and rear axles according to grip. This feature makes for a sporty drive that in turn increases active safety. The mechanical modulation is continuous and progressive. It conveys an optimum driving sensation that is satisfying and easy for the driver. Torque distribution takes place without any time lag. The car's grip performance adapts gradually in linear fashion to changing road conditions. This mechanical system is complemented by an electronic system for extra performance and safety margins in line with the Alfa Romeo philosophy. The Crosswagon is absolutely cutting edge as far as engineering is concerned and offers unexpected benefits.

Beginning with ride comfort. The increased ground clearance and generous tyre size brings a decided improvement when driving over obstacles while the stiffer body helps lower sound resonance effects. Because not all the torque needs be transmitted through the front axle, it has been possible to configure the geometry of the double wishbone front suspension for ride comfort. Permanent traction makes it possible to increase roadholding, driving satisfaction and smoothness of response. No other four wheel drive, implemented using electronic couplings, can offer the same optimum balance between oversteer, understeer and smoothness of response typical of the Crosswagon, that translates into great roadholding and active safety. Preferential torque distribution to the rear axle adds further driving satisfaction because vehicle handling is improved while guaranteeing maximum stability during sudden high speed lane changes on the motorway, as sometimes happens during emergency manoeuvres.

Suspension Driving satisfaction is always a strength of Alfa Romeo cars and the Crosswagon is no exception. The model therefore repeats the layout adopted on the 156 with some adjustment: high double-wishbone at the front, MacPherson at the back with transverse rods of different lengths.

Engine and gearbox Power and character. The Crosswagon combines the great driving comfort offered by its suspension with all the exuberant character of an Alfa sports model. This explains why the new model is equipped with the powerful 1.9 JTD 16v Multijet developing 110 kW (150 bhp) plus a 6 speed manual gearbox with sports ratios. The unit is a 4 cylinder in line engine with a bore of 82 millimetres and a stroke of 90.4 mm, capable of delivering a power output of 110 kW at 4000 rpm and a torque of 305 Nm (31 kgm) at 2000 rpm. The new turbodiesel has undergone several engineering changes to increase performance and engine torque at low speeds and to reduce noise and vibration levels. For example, the Common Rail system used on the 1.9 JTD 16v Multijet includes two new strategies for automatically calibrating and balancing the diesel injected to lower noise and reduce vibration.

Braking system and active safety systems The Alfa Crosswagon braking system is hydraulic, power-assisted and consists of two independent crossover circuits. This particularly effective system offers prompt, smooth braking and short stopping distances. In particular, the front discs, derived from the GTA, are ventilated with a diameter of 330 millimetres and come with four piston (38 and 42 mm) aluminium fixed Brembo callipers. The rear discs are only slightly smaller at 276 millimetres. In addition to a high-performing brake system, the Alfa Crosswagon also comes as standard with a BOSCH 5.7 ABS, one of the most advanced systems available on the market today. It features four active sensors and a 12 valve control unit. The ABS contains an electronic brakeforce distributor (EBD). This device apportions braking action over all four wheels to prevent locking and ensure full control of the car under all conditions. The system also adapts its operation to wheel grip conditions and brake pad efficiency to reduce pad overheating. The Crosswagon also assures absolute mastery of the car in all conditions, however extreme, due to its VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) and ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) systems. More specifically, the VDC is Alfa Romeo's version of the ESP (Electronic Stability Program), an innovative device that cuts in under extreme conditions when car stability is at risk and also helps the driver control the car. As befits a true Alfa, the VDC is a sporting device that allows outstanding roadholding. It allows the driver the full satisfaction of controlling the car as long as conditions are normal but cuts in just before things become critical. The VDC is permanently engaged. The MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung) cuts in when the gear is shifted down abruptly in low grip conditions. This device restores torque to the engine to prevent the wheel skidding as a result of lock.

2004-02-17 Please quote if You use this news article!