Alfa Romeo is the latest marque in South Africa to offer a diesel model and the 110 kW 156 2,4 JTD is set to take on the BMW 320d and Audi A4 1,9 TDi with a big dose of Italian flair.Alfa Romeo is the latest marque in South Africa to offer a diesel model and the 110 kW 156 2,4 JTD is set to take on the BMW 320d and Audi A4 1,9 TDi with a big dose of Italian flair.

Fiat Auto SA’s director for commercial operations Greg Levine said yesterday that he hoped “the JTD would offer a far more emotional motive for a diesel purchase”.

“With the new 2,4 JTD engine, Alfa Romeo proves that diesel isn’t just about fuel economy. The common rail diesel technology keeps noise levels down and fuel consumption low but still ensures high performance and engine flexibility,” Levine added.

At startup, the familiar clatter of a diesel engine is not something one would associate with an Alfa Romeo, but on the open road the JTD’s engine produces a smooth delivery of power that sounds almost musical.

The in-line five-cylinder Alfa Romeo diesel engine is mounted transversely in the 156’s engine bay. The single overhead cam motor features a closed deck cast iron crankcase with built-in cylinder liners and a light alloy cylinder head.

The belt-driven single overhead cam operates two valves per cylinder and there is a single counter-rotating balancing shaft to improve refinement. The Garrett turbocharger has a variable geometry turbine that helps improve power delivery by allowing high torque delivery at low revs.

According to the manufacturer, the 2,4 JTD produces 305 N.m of torque at 1 800 r/min. The zero to 100km/h sprint takes about 9,4 seconds, the JTD passing through the standing kilometre at 30,5 seconds. Producing 110kW of power at 4 000 r/min, the 2,4 JTD is claimed to reach a maximum speed of 212km/h.

In terms of fuel economy, Fiat Auto SA claim the 156 2,4 JTD will return 8,8 litres/100km dropping to 5,3 litres/100km on the open road. The JTD reportedly averages 6,6 litres/100km on a combined cycle.

The JTD is features independent suspension all round (double wishbones in the front and MacPherson struts at the rear) and power assisted rack and pinion steering. Vehicle dynamic control (VDC), ABS with hydraulic brake assistance and EBD, ISOFIX child seat fastening, front, side and window airbags for front seat passengers and Alfa’s fire prevention system are standard.

VDC is a system that monitors individual wheel- and yaw speed, or the rotation of the car about its vertical axis. It also detects lateral acceleration and the steering wheel angle.

The system computes this data to ascertain if the vehicle is cornering within its grip limits or if the front or rear is about to slide (understeer or oversteer), an Alfa Romeo spokesman said.

Standard interior equipment on the JTD includes a six speaker Bose system with satellite controls on the steering wheel, automatic bi-zone climate control, electric windows and mirrors, a height adjustable driver’s seat with the power assisted steering wheel adjustable for reach and rake, a rain sensor which automatically activates the windscreen wipers, cruise control, multi-function display with trip computer and leather trim.