Alfa Romeo's 147 is ready to dazzle under the bright lights at the Paris Motor Show and its fresh new looks, along with loads of extras, should have a whole heap of fans going weak at the knees.

Alfa Romeo's 147 is ready to dazzle under the bright lights at the Paris Motor Show and its fresh new looks, along with loads of extras, should have a whole heap of fans going weak at the knees.

Available in three- or five-door guise, the 147 retains its angular shape. The biggest cosmetic changes have been made to the front end. The grille is now bigger and is offset by the newly designed headlights. The airdam is divided by three vertical elements. The overhang is also longer and the bumpers and wing are new.

Changes to the rear are more minor; the tailgate has been reworked and the rear light cluster has been refined.

Inside, the 147's uncluttered surfaces and compact dimensions are virtually unchanged.

Engines on offer include two 1,6-litre Twin Spark units producing 78 kW and 89 kW, and a 2,0-litre 16-valve with a 112 kW power output. Power to the turbodiesel variants is provided by two 1,9 JTD engines, producing 75 and 86 kW respectively. The 1,9 JTD 16-valve M-Jet produces its power of 112 kW at 4 000 r/min and torque of 305 N.m at 2 000 r/min.

The gearboxes on offer are also new. The Selespeed transmission has been further developed to be more responsive and user-friendly. As with the current Selespeed, the system is designed to automate the clutch controls and gearshifts of a manual transmission via an electrohydraulic device.

Another new feature is a Comfort suspension setting, which combines a double wishbone suspension up front with a MacPherson layout at the rear. The front shock absorbers have been improved too.

With a highly rigid body structure, the 147 is fitted with safety features to complement this. High performance brakes with ABS and EBD are fitted across the range. Vehicle Dynamic Control (Alfa's answer to ESP) and ASR systems ensure that the car remains on the road, even in the toughest conditions.