The 164 confirms Alfa Romeo's international reputation as a manufacturer of high performance yet exceptionally safe cars with innovative engineering.
The 164 is aimed at motorists with a dynamic, sport-oriented life style for whom a car is both a fast, reliable means of transport and the expression of a~taste for high technology.
The 164 is the market's most up-to-date luxury saloon, a fitting successor to the great Alfas of the past in both design and engineering.
The Alfa 1 64 is entering a highly competitive and diversified market segment with a wide range of displacements, dimensions, weights and prices. High volume and specialist manufacturers are equally interested in this strategically important segment.
Currently the segment accounts for some 1 5% of Europe's total car market, selling some 1,700,000 a year. In Italy alone, the segment accounts for some 150,000 a year.
The medium-term prospects are for progressive expansion in Europe with sales expected to top I ,800,000 a year by the mid-Nineties.
Similar expansion in both volume and percentage terms is also expected in Italy.
The segment is also a particularly popular one in the United States and the new 164 will be joining the small group of European cars with a distinctive personality that share this niche market (about 240,000 sold a year).
In establishing the appearance of the Alfa 164 body, the designers started from the following primary characteristics:
Once Pininfarina had made the basic styling decisions, the details were worked out by the design staff of both companies in close collaboration. This was a gradual process as the design team worked to find the perfect combination of the best possible drag coefficient, quiet running, comfort and visibility from the driver's seat.
In terms of both general styling and the configuration of the various parts the line of the 164 was created with the aid of the latest technical and scientific computing techniques and with extensive recourse to interactive graphic systems and computerised three dimensional design techniques-Computer Aided Design (CAD).
In establishing aesthetic and functional criteria the designers were guided by the following requirements:
The salient features of the Alfa 164 body are:
Both the front and rear bumpers and the very unusual deep protective strips along the sides are made of soft polyurethane. This material absorbs impacts without deforming or breaking so that the front bumper will survive a 4 km/h frontal impact against a rigid obstacle and immediately return to its original condition. The material also remains unaltered by very low or very high temperatures.
On all versions bumpers and side strips are coated in dark metallic paint.
The comprehensive door sealing system and the careful engineering of the door structure and of the considerable number of functional parts inside combine to give that refined door closing slam which marks out the true high class car from the rest.
Another pleasing detail of refined engineering is experienced when the owner goes to open the bonnet. When he pulls the internal remote release, a small tongue springs out from the bottom of the grille with which the bonnet safety catch can be held open without the awkward fumbling under the bonnet typical of many lesser cars. The bonnet itself is gas-spring-counterbalanced for easy opening, and the thick noise insulation moulding and the relatively deep section, double-skin design of the bonnet itself give a solidity that is as satisfying to the hand as it is functional in avoiding high speed flutter and rattling.
It took dedicated team work by the Pininfarina and Alfa Romeo specialists to optimise the aerodynamics of the Alfa 164 body, with extensive recourse to wind tunnel testing and computerised analysis and measurement systems for air flows.
The final shape offers a Cd of 0.30 and a CdS of 0.61 sqm after a long series of tiny changes.
At this stage in the development of the 164 the engineers were working primarily on the following points:
Particular care was taken to minimise lift, the tendency of the car to lose (positive lift) or gain (negative lift) weight as an effect of car speed.
This is an important matter for a high performance car and the objective on the Alfa 164 was to obtain near zero front and rear lift in order to improve road holding, minimise attitude variations at speed and make driving under strong side winds safer.
The engineers' efforts to obtain an optimal engine bay temperature deserve a whole chapter to themselves in the story of Alfa 164 aerodynamic styling. Much of the work went on shaping the radiator grille and its air intakes, sealing it and providing airflow deflectors at the sides of the radiator.
The Pininfarina designers worked hand in hand with the Alfa Romeo people, exploiting the experience they had already put together in designing the Lancia Thema and developing its manufacturing technologies to create a totally new body.
The search for the ideal shape, first in general terms, then in every tiny detail was conducted in three basic phases:
In helping to design the interior trim of the Alfa 164, Pininfarina did more than define the appearance of the individual elements. They also conducted an in-depth study of the ergonomic aspects.
One of the basic principles that guided the designers' work was that the driver should have easy access to all controls and an unobstructed view of the instruments and indicators necessary for sports type driving, and that these should be grouped in a functional manner in different areas. They strove to provide a close relationship between the driver and his facia, creating a "personal" feeling consistent with the character of a sports car.
The designers also devoted a great deal of time to the form and position of the secondary and heating/ventilation controls, trying out a host of very different solutions before identifying the formula that would be both very attractive and most functional, easy to use, accurate and least distracting for a motorist with his mind on his driving.
It took a whole series of wind tunnel experiments to optimise the aerodynamics of the 164, and Pininfarina made extensive use of advanced computerised measuring systems. These included the mapping of local pressures and air flow speeds on the various parts of the body, especially vital parts like the front, the slipstream, the air intakes and outlets used for cooling the engine and ventilating the passenger compartment, the door mirrors etc.
Using these sophisticated technologies all the figures are displayed in real time with their possible variations in the form of automatic on-screen maps that helped to create the Alfa 164's excellent drag coefficient and directional stability. Various tentative solutions were proposed during the development of the 164, relating to:
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