The revised Alfa Romeo 147 range receives fresh styling and a potent new 110 kW turbodiesel engine as part of a long list of changes and upgrades, all at a very reasonable rate.

The revised Alfa Romeo 147 range receives fresh styling and a potent new 110 kW turbodiesel engine as part of a long list of changes and upgrades, all at a very reasonable rate.

As shown at the Paris Show last year, both the 147's styling and some of the nuts and bolts have been give a going over to improve its popularity in the premium hatchback sector. And with the recommended pricing ranging from R183 000 to R219 000, with an average increase of under R2 000 per model, the stalwarts - Audi A3 and BMW's 1 Series - could find their market dominance under threat.

Initially launched here in May 2001, the revised 147 range still offers a choice of three-and five-door hatchbacks, with a choice of four engines and two trim options.

The overall shape is retained, but the bonnet, front wings and front bumper are all new, resulting in a more dynamic front end. The V-shaped grille, restyled with the assistance of Italian design house Giugaro, is now larger and positioned lower. The most dramatic change is the use of three projector-style lights arranged in a narrow sweep tracing the lines of the bonnet. The lower intakes are now covered in mesh, giving the car a more athletic and updated look. The 147 has grown as a result of its new front end, and the overhang is about five cm longer than previously.

Changes to the rear have been subtler and include tail lights that extend towards the centre of the revised tailgate. The tailgate can be opened from within the cabin or by remote control.

Apart from the exterior changes, the 147's suspension has also been tweaked, though the existing arrangement using double wishbones at the front and MacPherson struts at the rear has been retained.

The numerous changes will, according to Fiat, ensure optimum tyre grip, reduce yaw under braking, and promote greater steering precision.

Friction in the suspension has been reduced with the addition a "fluidodynamic" bushes locating the top wishbone for better NVH absorption on different road surfaces.

At the rear, the MacPherson strut system has revised geometry, and, as before, there's an anti-roll bar.

The engine line-up comprises two petrol engines and two turbodiesel units.

Both the 88 kW 1,6-litre and 110 - kW 2,0-litre petrol engines feature variable valve timing. The bigger-capacity version also uses a variable geometry intake system. Claimed overall fuel consumption figures for the two are 8,2 l / 100 km and 8,9 l / 100 km respectively .

The 85 - kW 1,9-litre common rail turbodiesel engine also continues in the revised range. A frugal performer, it consumes an average of 5,8 l / 100 km.

But the big engine news is the début of a 110 - kW 1,9-litre JTD Multijet turbodiesel, as first seen in the flagship Alfa GT. The twin-overhead cam 16-valve unit with a variable-geometry turbocharger delivers its peak power at 4 000 r/min and has a prodigious torque output of 305 N.m at 2 000 r/min.

Acceleration from zero to 100 km/h is said to take 8,8 seconds, while the combined fuel cycle is quoted at 5,9 l per 100 km.

Apart from the Multijet engine, which is mated with a six-speed manual transmission, all the 147s are equipped with five-speed manual gearboxes.

Two equipment levels (Progression and Distinctive) are offered. The facia now houses a single binnacle with new instrument and control graphics on a black or silver background. Using elements similar to the Alfa GT, the facia can be ordered in two-tone combinations.

All models come fitted with alloy wheels, manual or dual zone climate control, height and reach adjustable steering wheel and driver ' s seat, power front windows and (heated) door mirrors, steering wheel - mounted audio controls, "follow-me-home" lights, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, and a radio/CD player with six speakers .

Distinctive models also receive a CD changer, front fog lamps, power rear windows, cruise control and leather upholstery.

On the safety front, all models boast ABS and EBD with ASR and a torque control system called MSR (motor schleppmomen tregelung), which cuts in during abrupt downshifts under low-grip conditions to restore torque to the engine and prevent wheelspin.

Alfa's "vehicle dynamic control" (VDC) stability control system is standard on the new 2,0 and 1.9 JTD Multijet flagship models. It continually monitors the levels of grip and compares the data with pre-programmed parameters to establish whether the car is cornering within its grip limits. However, the system only intervenes when absolutely necessary, to allow 147 owners to fully experience their cars.

All 147s come standard with six airbags, load limiters and seat belt pre-tensioners for the front occupants and anti-submarining seats. Alfa's Fire Protection System, which immediately cuts the fuel supply in a serious collision, is included in the package. Additionally, the interior trim is fire-resistant and meets stringent US flame retardant regulations.

New owners are covered by a 36-month / 60 000 km maintenance plan, a 12-month manufacturer's warranty with unlimited distance, and an additional dealer - extended warranty for 24 months or up to 100 000km.

The new models are covered by 24-hour AA Fleet care roadside assistance via a dedicated toll-free number. Services are required at 20 000 km/h intervals.

Prices:

147 1,6 three-door Progression R183 000

147 1,6 five-door Progression R192 000

147 1,9 JTD five-door Progression R199 000

147 2,0 three-door Distinctive R207 000

147 2,0 five-door Distinctive R216 000

147 1,9 JTD MultiJet five-door Distinctive R219 000

Original article from Car