Alfa Romeo 164
|Also called||Alfa Romeo 168|
|Assembly||Arese, Milan, Italy|
|Predecessor||Alfa Romeo Alfa 6 Alfa Romeo 90|
|Successor||Alfa Romeo 166|
|Body style||4-door saloon|
|Layout||Front-engine, front-wheel-drive / four-wheel-drive|
|Platform||Type Four platform|
|Engine||2.0 L TS I4 (petrol) 2.0 L I4 Turbo (petrol) 2.0 L V6 Turbo (petrol) 3.0 L V6 (petrol) 2.5 L I4 TD (diesel)|
|Transmission||5-speed manual 6-speed manual (Getrag) 4-speed automatic (ZF 4HP18Q) 4-speed automatic (ZF 4HP18QE)|
|Wheelbase||2,660 mm (104.7 in)|
|Length||4,554 mm (179.3 in) (1988–1990) 4,557 mm (179.4 in) (1991–1992) 4,560 mm (179.5 in) (1993–1994) 4,665 mm (183.7 in) (Super)|
|Width||1,760 mm (69.3 in)|
|Height||1,390 mm (54.7 in) (1988–1990) 1,393 mm (54.8 in) (1991–1992) 1,390 mm (54.7 in) (1993–1995)|
|Curb weight||1,200–1,510 kg (2,600–3,300 lb)|
|Related||Fiat Croma Lancia Thema Saab 9000|
|Designer(s)||Enrico Fumia (Pininfarina)|
The Alfa Romeo 164 (Type 164) is a four-door executive sedan manufactured and marketed by the Italian automaker Alfa Romeo from 1987 to 1998 and styled Enrico Fumia at Pininfarina.
Unveiled at the 1987 Frankfurt Motor Show, the 164 was the last model to be developed while the Alfa Romeo was still a fully independent company, and was formally launched a few months after Fiat purchased the company.
The 164 was superseded by the Alfa Romeo 166 in 1998 after 273,857 had been produced.
Project 164 started life as Project 154, then still under Alfa Romeo, which was completed in 1981, a year before 164 was complete as 1:1 scale model. Then in 1982 it was transformed to fit onto Tipo 4 chassis.
The Alfa Romeo 164 was styled by Enrico Fumia at Pininfarina in 1982,. The 164 can be seen as the logical extension and successor of the Alfetta, particularly the late-model "long nose, square light".
The 164 was the first Alfa to feature extensive use of computer aided design for calculating structural stresses, resulting in a very rigid but still relatively lightweight body. The 164 was the basis of the Type Four platform, which it shares with Lancia Thema, Fiat Croma and Saab 9000. Being the last to reach the market, the 164's bodyshell was the most aerodynamic of the four, and had a markedly sleeker profile and lower coefficient of drag. In order to permit this design variation, an exclusive front suspension was developed.
The 164 also introduced improved build quality over previous Alfas, featuring galvanised steel frame and various body panels for the first time.
Equipped with the most complex wiring harness of any Alfa Romeo, the 164 was designed to compete in the executive car segment dominated by the German cars.It offered better value for money in terms of technology (having three onboard computers, one for air conditioning, one for instrumentation, and one for engine management; air conditioning and instrument functions shared a multiple-mode coded Z-80-class microcontroller for dashboard functioning). Air-direction within the ventilation system was controlled by a pair of servomechanisms, which were constructed using notoriously fragile plastic gears and were prone to failure; possible high part costs are alleviated by the commonality of these parts with the 166. At least one aftermarket company has also developed metal replacement gears which eliminates the breakage issue.
The car featured automatic climate control and electronically controlled damping suspension (in the top-line Cloverleaf models and 164S). This suspension actively reduced damping in response to conditions to provide a dynamic compromise between road holding and comfort.
The 164 was the last Alfa saloon to be sold in the North American market, where only the 3.0 L V6 was offered (12-valve from 1991 to 1993, 24-valve from 1994 to 1995).
The 164 was rebadged as the 168 for the Hong Kong and Malaysian markets, as the number "164" had a very negative connotation (In Chinese it is a homophone to "一路死" — all the way to death), and "168" has quite the opposite ("一路發" — all the way to prosperity).
Alfa Romeo 164 Quadrifoglio Verde
The 164 Quadrifoglio Verde (badged as the 164 QV) was available from 1990-1992 as the top of the range model. It featured an extended front spoiler, deeper side-skirts and a deeper rear apron. Inside, the 164 QV featured sculpted sports seats and mechanically the car featured an up-rated 3.0 12V V6 (147kW vs 132kW for the standard car) and adjustable damper settings. This was the only 164 available with a manual transmission in Australia. From 1992 this version was available with new 24V V6 engine.
Alfa Romeo 164 Q4
In 1993, Alfa introduced a four-wheel-drive variant called the Q4 (short for Quadrifoglio 4), which was equipped with an even more powerful version of the 3.0L V6 engine. The Q4 four-wheel-drive system (Viscomatic) was co-developed with the Austrian company Steyr-Puch The system was very advanced when compared to other 4WD systems at that time. The system consisted of a viscous coupling unit, central epicyclic differential and Torsen differential in the rear. The whole system is connected to ABS and Motronic units. The power driven to the rear axle is continuously variable from 0 to 100%, so the car can be fully front- or rear-wheel-drive as conditions require. Torque is distributed between axles depending on the speed, turning radius, engine rpms, throttle position and ABS parametrics. This model was equipped with a Getrag 6-speed manual gearbox.
- Initial testing of the 164's dynamic elements began in 1984, where Giuliettas where used as test mules for engines and drivetrain. Initial handling bugs were ironed out on the factory's test track in Arese.
- In 1985, the first pre-production 164's were put through their paces on the road. Heavily disguised, with many false panels and even a false nose design (borrowing heavily from the then equally undeveloped 155), sporting 4 round headlamps, these vehicle mules served to test the 164 for the gruelling 1 million kilometre static and road testing demanded of the design.
- In 1986 and 1987, the first 150 164's were given their pre-production testing. In terms of engineering demands, these exceeded every Alfa before, and by quite a substantial margin.
- In Morocco, desert testing saw 5 grey 164 Twinsparks and V6's undergo the equivalent of the Paris-Dakar rally. Road conditions varied from good tarmac to off-road conditions, and accelerometers confirmed the superiority of the 164 in terms of passenger comfort. This data was cross-confirmed in the engineering laboratory with a sophisticated dummy in the driver's seat, with accelerometers both in its seat, and in its ears to mimic that of the semi-circular canals of the ear.
- The Twinspark and the V6 underwent handling trials at Arese. The Twinspark displayed very mature driving manners at the limit, with minimal skid. The V6 displayed a 25% increase in at-the-limit skid, a natural consequence of its greater nose weight.
- ABS testing confirmed that the Twinspark has superior braking to the V6. Brake linings of the 164's were run at maximum braking until they literally glowed with heat, and displayed no deviation in form. The 164 was the first Alfa to feature slotted double-walled disc brakes. At no point were the discs drilled to release excess heat, the original design being demonstrated to be excellent.
- Acceleration testing confirmed the V6 was the superior performer in terms of speed. In line with Alfa Romeo's remarkable ability to get all cars to achieve their speedometer maximum point, 164's were tested to their design maximum — 240 km/h (150 mph). All achieved them, though the Twinspark displays reluctance to exceed 205 km/h (127 mph), and achieved 240 very slowly. The V6 achieved it easily, and maintained it, thus demonstrating Alfa's legendary performance.
- Sound production was tested in an anechoic chamber, the car being subjected to stress and road noise testing, with instruments and with live subjects at the wheel, on a specially designed rig.
- Electromagnetic stability of the complex electronic system was also tested, in an anechoic chamber equipped with EM emitters (radar).
- The 164 engines were run to destruction, the Twinspark proving to be the most robust, and with the longest possible engine life. The V6 displayed only 10% shorter overall engine life.
The base 164 engine was the 2.0 L Twin Spark I4 engine with two spark plugs per cylinder. Apart from that, this engine was also notable for having a two-stage valve timing system (before Honda's famous VTEC), and an induction valve blade-type system, aimed at improving low-end torque.
The block of the Twin Spark was the same 2.0 L that had been a part of Alfa's road and race car history since the 1930s. The engine featured fuel injection, controlled by a Bosch Motronic system as well as achain-driven DOHC cylinder head, a single cooling fan and generator belt, improved reliability and reduced parasitic friction. The battery of all 164s is placed in the trunk to achieve a close 50:50 weight distribution.
Next was a turbocharged 2.0 L 8-valve engine, derived from the Lancia Thema i.e. Turbo, and including an overboost feature (this was later replaced by a turbocharged V6 in some markets).
The top-line engine was the 3.0 L "Arese" V6 designed by Giuseppe Busso originally for the Alfa 6. Initially it was of the older 12v design but was later revised to 24 valves for the QV model.
The 3.0 L 24 valve V6 was also used to power the four-wheel drive Q4 variant.
For some markets, a turbocharged 2.0 L V6 was developed, based from the 3.0 L engine with reduced displacement and a very sophisticated engine management system from Bosch.
Finally, there was also a turbodiesel version with an engine sourced from the Italian engine maker VM Motori. Rated at 125 PS (92 kW), even this weakest version was capable to propel the 164 past the 200 km/h (124 mph) mark.