Alfa Romeo Crosswagon Q4 test
Intro: A PRECURSOR TO THE KAMAL
The appearance of a new Alfa Romeo always pricks up the ears of automobile enthusiasts. The Crosswagon is no exception to the rule and its diesel motorization didnt scare us off. In fact, we really wanted to try out its all wheel drive transmission, because in the near future it will equip Alfas real 4X4, the Kamal scheduled for a 2006 release. In the meantime, Alfa Romeo chose to add it on to the 156 Sportwagon to give it a modern look, that of a battler, similar to Audis Allroad and the Cross Country from Volvo.
Esthetique: THE LOOK OF A BATTLER
Aesthetically, the adaptation is a hit. The Designers at the Alfa style centre in Varese took the roof bars and fenders of the 156 and enlarged them on the Crosswagon. For the invisible areas, steel protectors on the chassis rail covers were chosen. For the visible, however, the front and rear bumpers are specific and integrate metal reinforcements. The Alfa Crosswagon was concocted for taking on several types of road surfaces or terrains; the ground clearance has been raised by 6.5cms. The Q4 is shod with specific Pirelli "All Season" tyres and they go handsomely with the rest of the general line of the car. In the interior, the Q4 hasnt been given any specific equipment. They made an effort despite it all in terms of finish in adopting the lining from the GT, and thats about it. We did, however, note the presence of a Blue Tooth telephone system where you can answer the phone without distraction. For the rest, while not going over the top in terms of habitability, the 156 conserves its original qualities.
Motorization: NOTHING BUT OIL
The Q4 is powered by a diesel motor. Up until now, there was nothing to mention, especially when it comes from the 1.9 litre JTD group including the power it provides at 150 horsepower. But we wanted more from the six-speed gearbox with which it was coupled to the motor itself. For anti-pollution reasons, the gears are too short and one cannot fully make use of the engines power. And thus, one is forced to rely on the torque, and the Q4 obliges the driver to cool his heals due to a disappointingly staged gearbox. For a constructor who built its reputation on the sporting characteristics of its line, this is a real set back. Obviously, the market dictates the rules and in Europe if you dont offer a diesel, you dont sell cars. One thus hoped that Alfa Romeo would have been more original in its choices.
On the road: IMPROVEMENT
With the raising of the ground clearance, the suspension was obviously modified. It provides the needed smoothness, all the while retaining the rigidity that allows the 156 to hold on to its original road going qualities. In terms of handling, it is clearly thanks to the all-wheel drive transmission that the Q4 has increased traction and precision. This transmission is the real strong point of the Alfa. Firstly, it uses three differentials, including a central self-locking Torsen type differential. It is the first of this type have been adapted to a transversally mounted engine. It allows for better control of the torque between the front and rear wheels and can redistribute the power depending on the grip. Up to 80% of the torque can be transmitted at the back while accelerating versus 40% at the front under braking. For the rest, it is a reassuring transmission in any circumstance. Linked to precise steering and excellent braking, it leaves one to imagine what it would be like if it was installed on a 156 GTA.