TURIN - Alfa Romeo will launch the station wagon variation of the 156 by the end of 1999, company officials confirmed.
The 156 Sportwagon was a late addition to the 156 program. The 156 started life as a sedan only.
The Sportwagon will have a sporty look, similar to the Volvo V40, so as not to compete with the Marea Weekend, Fiat's other station wagon.
Alfa's last station wagon was the 33 Sportwagon, designed and initially built by Pininfarina. When the 33 was replaced, Fiat said the 145 hatchback would substitute for the station wagon.
Alfa marketing people had lobbied for a genuine wagon, because all their competitors - most noticeably Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Volvo - have at least two station wagons in their range.
In the past Paolo Cantarella always claimed that a station wagon was not sporty enough for the Alfa image. This time, he reversed his decision, but only for the 156. At the moment the Alfa 166, to replace the 164 this fall, is only a four-door sedan with no station wagon planned.
The 156 sedan has sold well. Alfa is considering a third shift in the Pomigliano D'Arco plant in order to boost capacity from the current 400 units a day (90,000 a year) to 600 a day (130,000).