The new Alfa Romeo 169 is like a mythical creature.
The new Alfa Romeo 169 is like a mythical creature. We therefore hear rumours that it exists, we occasionally see tantalising photographs, but it never actually emerges. This Italian stallion, at least in theory, is the replacement to the striking 166. This retired to a stylish coffee shop in 2007, so its successor is already fashionably late. It was delayed as Alfa struggled to find a suitable 'FR' platform, meaning front-engined and rear-wheel-drive.The Alfa Romeo 169's styling is extraordinary. In fact, its bodywork looks like it was poured over the FR platform like liquid metal. The result is that this four-door coupe instantly demands your attention. The front is purposeful and confident, the sweeping bonnet lines magnificent, and the rear is as perfectly proportioned as a supermodel. Good thing too, as the 169 is taking on the mighty Mercedes-Benz CLS and Audi A5 Sportback. The Alfa Romeo 169's exact specification is unconfirmed, but we expect it to be available with a reasonable range of petrol and diesel engines. These may start with a pleasing 175bhp unit. Even more impressive is the possibility of a 3.0-litre V8 producing a mighty 400bhp. Sounds good to me. Furthermore, the interior will focus on high-end luxury - so prepare to be dazzled by polished wood, sumptuous leather, and mind-boggling gadgets. Alfa Romeo has taken considerable steps to improve their vehicles' build quality and longevity. Their reward is a highly respectable placing in the 2011 JD Power Survey. Hopefully, the 169 will inherit these improvements and prove itself a reliable, long term, workhorse. Petrol heads would like nothing more than to wave goodbye to the gremlins of old. Fingers crossed, but only time will tell if this mythical creature is built to last.