The 159 was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro in collaboration with the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo. The nose features a traditional Alfa Romeo V shaped grille and bonnet, and cylindrical head light clusters. Similar to its coupé counterpart, the front of the car was influenced by 2002 Brera Concept also by Giugiaro.
A high waistline broadens until it reaches the rear "C" pillar. Several exterior design cues were intended to make the car appear larger, supposedly to appeal to potential buyers in the United States; however, the 159 was never exported to that region.
The interior also features styling treatments familiar from earlier cars, including the 156, such as deeply recessed instruments which are angled towards the driver. Alfa Romeo intended for the 159 to compete more directly with BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi by using higher quality interior materials; however, it has been said that Alfa Romeo misjudged their brand's positioning relative to the more well known German luxury automakers.
Year by year changes
Several levels of trim are available, depending on market. Four trim levels: Progression, Distinctive, Exclusive and Turismo Internazionale (TI). In the United Kingdom, there were three levels of trim: Turismo, Lusso and Turismo Internazionale (TI). Among other options, the 159 was also available with the Blue&Meinfotainment system.
A Sportwagon variant was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2006. An automatic gearbox option for the 2.4 JTDM diesel model was also launched that year, and later extended to other versions. In 2007, a four wheel drive diesel model was released, and the 2.4 litre diesel engines' power output increased to 210 PS (154 kW; 207 hp), with a newly reintroduced TI trim level also available as an option.
For the model year 2008, the mechanics and interiors of the 159 were further developed. The 3.2 litre V6 model is offered in front wheel drive configuration, achieving a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). All model variants are equipped with Alfa's electronic "Q2" limited slip differential.
As a result of newly introduced aluminium components, a 45 kilograms (99 lb) weight reduction has been achieved. Recent model versions were introduced in Geneva Motor Show in 2008.
For the model year 2009, Alfa Romeo introduced a new turbocharged Gasoline (Petrol) engine badged as "TBi", this 1742 cc unit has direct injection and variable valve timing in both inlet and exhaust cams. This new engine has 200 PS (147 kW; 197 hp) and 320 N⋅m (236 lbf⋅ft) of torque. Eventually this unit will replace GM derived 2.2 and 1.9 JTS units. Also a new 170 PS (125 kW; 168 hp) JTDm diesel became available.
In the United Kingdom, Alfa Romeo stopped taking orders for the 159 on 8 July 2011.
The 159 was available in both front and four-wheel drive, configurations. The "Q4" four wheel drive system utilises a Torsen type C twin differential (front and centre differential in the same unit, front differential is open) and is available on the 3.2 litre petrol and 2.4 litre diesel engines.
The gearbox is a six speed manual on most models (1.8 has a five speed), and a six speed automatic Q-Tronic gearbox (Aisin AW TF-80SC) was available for the 1.9 diesel, 2.4 diesel and 3.2 gasoline (petrol) models. The Selespeed gearbox is for sale in some countries with the 2.2 gasoline (Petrol) engine.
The 159 is fitted with seven airbags as standard, with additional knee airbags also available as an option. The car performed well in rear end crash protection tests, benefiting from "anti whiplash" seats.
The 159 passed the Euro NCAP car safety tests with following ratings:
Black 159s also appeared in the chase scene in Johnny English Reborn, chasing Johnny English, played by Rowan Atkinson. Their use may have been a reference to Quantum of Solace.
A car strongly resembling a 159 can be seen in multiple episodes of Psycho Pass.
The 159 contested the Bathurst 12 Hour race for production cars in 2007,2009 and 2010. Competing with the 2.4 Litre JTDM diesel engine, it won the Alternative Energy Class in each of these three races.