The 164 was re-badged as the 168 for the Hong Kong, Malaysian and Indonesian 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).
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 discontinued and replaced by the Alfa Romeo 166 in 1998. 273,857 had been produced.
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 chassis, 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 was the first of the "new technology" Alfa Romeos, and is the technological and styling basis of all Alfas to the present day.
The 164 also introduced dramatically improved build quality over previous Alfas, featuring galvanised steel frame and various body panels for the first time, ending the most common complaint by Alfa customers about rust problems encountered in older models such as the Alfasud and the GTV.
Even though some purists feared of loss of character due to the adoption of front-wheel drive for the first time in an Alfa top-line saloon, the car proved itself as a supremely comfortable and sure-footed car, with a distinctively sporting character, inline with the marque's tradition. In fact, the motorpress of the day found its only fault to be some torque steer, particularly in earlier versions.
Equipped with the most complex wiring loom of any Alfa Romeo, the 164 was designed to compete in the executive car segment dominated by the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. 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.
Also, the car had some very advanced features for its day, such as automatic climate control and electronically controlled dampening suspension (in the top-line Cloverleaf models and 164S). This suspension actively reduced dampening in response to conditions to provide a dynamic compromise between road holding and comfort. The 164 also boasted engines rated among the best in the industry at the time, and the same basic design is still used to this day in current models.
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.
The 164's development was by far and away the most demanding of any car manufactured by Alfa Romeo, and set the standard by which other European manufacturers would be measured.
The wedged notch running down the length of the vehicle is a unique and striking design feature, which helped earn the 164 a unique place in automotive styling annals. It is often described as the most important and greatest example of styling for the year of its introduction, 1987.
The 164 has also been described as a more significant, though no less important departure for Alfa as the well known 'Monstro', the Alfa Romeo SZ of 1988.
Styled by Pininfarina, the 164's exterior bore a more than a passing resemblance to the Peugeot 605, launched a year later, and also styled by Pininfarina. This is particularly apparent in the wedge-shaped body and in the longitudinal groove along the side of both cars. However, individual stylistic treatment given by features such as the integration of the traditional Alfa triangular grille, elongated in the hood, and the full-width rear light cluster distinguished the 164 from its French counterpart.
The 164's styling cues have been carried over to contemporary late-series 33s, and to the 155, and the aerodynamic wedge shape introduced in the 164 remains a visible design feature in all subsequent Alfa Romeos into the present day.
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. This was intended to give buyers a strong sense of heritage, as well as a significant advantage in terms of reliability. New to the engine was the introduction of fuel injection, controlled by a Bosch Motronic system.
A very sophisticated engine, with a traditional Alfa chain-driven DOHC cylinder head, a single cooling fan and generator belt, drastically improved reliability and reduced parasitic friction. The battery of all 164s is placed in the trunk to achieve a close 50:50 weight distribution.
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.
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. This was the fastest diesel saloon on those days.
|Model||Engine||Volume||Power||Torque||0-100 km/h, s||Top speed||Model year|
|2.0 T.Spark 8v||I4||1962 cc||108 kW (148 PS)||187 Nm (138 ft·lbf) @ 4700 rpm||9.2||1987-1989|
|2.0 T.Spark 8v (cat)||I4||1962 cc||106 kW (144 PS)||187 Nm (138 ft·lbf) @ 4700 rpm||9.9||1990-1992|
|2.0 TS 8v||I4||1962 cc||106 kW (146 PS)||193 Nm (142 ft·lbf) @ 5000 rpm||9.9||1992-1995|
|2.0 TS Super 8v||I4||1995 cc||106 kW (146 PS)||187 Nm (138 ft·lbf) @ 5000 rpm||9.9||1992-1997|
|2.0 Turbo 8v||I4||1995 cc||129 kW (175 PS+overboost)||265 Nm (195 ft·lbf) @ 2500 rpm||7.2||1987-1991|
|2.0 ''V6 Turbo 12v||V6||1997 cc||156 kW (210 PS+overboost)||306 N·m (226 ft·lbf) @ 2750 rpm||7.2||1991-1994|
|3.0 V6 12v||V6||2959 cc||141 kW (192 PS)||261 Nm (192 ft·lbf) @ 4900 rpm||8.1||1987-1989|
|3.0 V6 12v (cat)||V6||2959 cc||135 kW (184 PS)||261 Nm (192 ft·lbf) @ 4900 rpm||8.1||1990-1992|
|3.0 V6 12v Super||V6||2959 cc||132 kW (180 PS)||255 Nm (188 ft·lbf) @ 4400 rpm||8.0||1992-1995|
|3.0 V6 QV 12v||V6||2959 cc||147 kW (200 PS)||274 Nm (202 ft·lbf) @ 4400 rpm||7.7||1990-1992|
|3.0 V6 24v Super||V6||2959 cc||155 kW (211 PS)||266 Nm (196 ft·lbf) @ 5000 rpm||8.0||1992-1997|
|3.0 V6 24v QV||V6||2959 cc||170 kW (232 PS)||276 Nm (203 ft·lbf) @ 5000 rpm||7.0||1992-1993|
|3.0 V6 Quadrifoglio||V6||2959 cc||170 kW (232 PS)||276 Nm (203 ft·lbf) @ 5000 rpm||7.7||1993-1997|
|Model||Engine||Volume||Power||Torque||0-100 km/h, s||Top speed||Model year|
|2.5 Turbodiesel||I4||2499 cc||86 kW (117 PS)||260 Nm (191 ft·lbf) @ 2200 rpm||11.1||1987-1992|
|2.5 Turbodiesel||I4||2499 cc||92 kW (125 PS)||288 Nm (212 ft·lbf) @ 2000 rpm||10.8||1992-1997|
The 164 served as the basis of the Alfa Romeo Proteo, which in turn served as the basis of the new Alfa Romeo Spider.The 164 also served as the basis of the Italdesign Scighera supercar concept — interestingly, only the engine output was uprated, the majority of the car's underpinnings, and even its interior being shared with the 164 without significant change. The Alfa Romeo 164 Pro-Car made in 1988 was a 600 hp V10-engined racing car.It was planned to race in a special racing series (as a support event to Formula One Grands Prix). Alfa was only manufacturer who made a car for this series before it was canceled. Only one chassis with an Alfa Romeo V10 was built by Motor Racing Developments Ltd., the company behind the Brabham Formula One team, which was owned by Alfa Romeo at the time.