Alfa Romeo 159, Mazda 6: Beautiful rivals
It seems that both Alfa-Romeo and Mazda-6 were created using the same software. Or is it design templates? Eight glowing round in the front of the car – a coincidence? Or now the headlights, like fifty years ago, can only be round? Under the common glass in the “Mazda” high and low beam headlights, fog lights and direction indicators. At Alpha, the smooth surface of the front end was sacrificed, leaving three round optical elements open, and the foglights were located at the bottom of the bumper. Such a decision, perhaps, loses in aerodynamics, but much more spectacularly outwardly. Even brings back memories of the “Aston-Martin Lagond”, which, I remember, had six (albeit rectangular) headlights. And in combination with the traditional “shield” of the radiator lining “Alfa Romeo 159” – the owner of a strongly memorable appearance. The rest of the avant-garde decisions do not show that for the better: the ideal proportions are determined a very long time, but not outdated.
RED ON WHITE
In the middle zone this winter there was a serious shortage of snow, but on the day of the test it unexpectedly fell out. The snow-ice landscape has considerably displaced the perception of cars – handling has been evaluated mostly on slippery roads. Both cars are seasoned, in 16- and 17-inch Nokian Hakkapeliitta 5, so the comparison is quite legitimate. Winter studded tires do not particularly contribute to comfort, but the difference in noise insulation is perfectly noticeable. Contrary to assumptions, the Alfa-Romeo 159 was not only quieter than the Mazda-6, but also showed good smoothness. Her suspension better cope with small irregularities on the pavement, and frost, and frankly broken areas. For a car with an obvious sports bias and origin from the southern country, this is perhaps surprising. As well as the fact that the energy intensity of the Mazda suspension, at first glance tough and dense, turned out to be low. However, it is safer to abuse the speed on bad roads on the Mazda – it has more ground clearance, 133 mm. The “Alpha” under the sagging plastic cover in the middle of only 90 mm! However, fasteners are 30 mm higher. With a more thoughtful design, the difference in ground clearance would be halved.
Modern cars rarely indulge in good visibility. At Alpha, it is even lower than the average — with an acceptable thickness of the pillars, the overhanging roof presses, the impressive hood and front overhang are not felt, and the backward view is difficult. When parking perpendicular to the pavement or turning on the street with high curbs, you must be very careful. Even an overly plump “speed bump” can pose a threat to the bumper. And this is by car without a sports package – the front bumper is even lower! The driver of the Mazda feels more confident and is able to put the car almost accustomed to the obstacle without getting used to it.
On a slippery road, the advantage returns to the Alpha. It reacts less to rutting and ridges of uncleaned snow. Despite the very sharp steering, feedback is enough even on the ice. VDC and ASR systems are responsible for handling in normal mode. The first controls the slip angles, the second prevents the drive wheels from slipping. Both can be disabled, then the “Alpha” will demonstrate the “natural character” of the chassis. It allows you to take turns in the slip, but requires robust skills. Attempting to fill the car in a turn for gas discharge with insufficient lateral acceleration is doomed to failure: the car slips out of the path of the front wheels. But if at the moment of entry everything is done correctly, “Alpha” will reciprocate – and will obediently follow the given trajectory. Although it is obvious that the chassis was not set up for the ice ballet – it is clearly sharpened “on the asphalt”, where accurate, predictable reactions and a minimum of slips are required.
“Mazda”, on the contrary, it is easier to change the trajectory at the entrance to the turn, but it is more difficult to control it on the arc. It is harder to stay in the icy rolling tracks on the highway – the car is trying too hard to jump out of them. On pure asphalt “Mazda” behaves more clearly. But excessive sharpness persists: should not be distracted from the management! However, there is nothing to be distracted about — even the on-board computer is controlled with just one button. By the way, the advanced audio system includes a six-disc changer in the center console, but it does not know how to play MP3s.
Starting the engine “Alpha” – the button. “Protection against a fool” – it is necessary to squeeze the clutch or brake pedal. This does not fully guarantee against an involuntary jerk, but leaves a chance to drive off on a starter in an emergency. The Alfa’s on-board computer does not know Russian, but when choosing between English and German, I wanted to install … Italian. It seemed that the “livello olio motore” here is much more logical than the “motor oil level”. The spirit of the machine requires a native language!