Alfa Romeo will unveil a long awaited station wagon version of the 156 at Geneva. The car will go on sale in late March. Like the 33 wagon, discontinued in 1995, the new 156 will take the name Sportwagon.
The 156 Sportwagon is a vital model for Alfa. The car must maintain 156 volumes over initial company expectations. Introduced at the end of 1997, Alfa had a production target of 100,000 units a year for the 156 sedan. Just over 109,000 units were built in 1998, and almost 120,000 were made in 1999.
In the Pomigliano d'Arco plant, near Naples, half of the 156 line has been tooled to build Sportwagons. Fiat Auto expects the station wagon will stabilize at 30-35 percent of 156 total production. Engines and specifications are the same as the sedan.
Although direct rivals such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have two station wagons in their ranges, the 156 will remain Alfa's only wagon.
Alfa is not planning wagon derivatives of the 166 or the forthcoming 147.