Motoring Car of the year prize for Alfa Romeo

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One of the motor industry's most highly-sought after awards was presented yesterday to Alfa Romeo, the Italian car makers.

Its 156 model, designed to take on BMW and Audi, raced away with the European Car of the Year award. The car had won critical acclaim when it was launched earlier this year for its style and handling.

The 130 mph model beat off the challenge of the Volkswagen Golf to take the prestigious prize. It goes on sale in the UK next February. Prices are expected to start at pounds 17,000.

"Make no mistake, this is one of the finest mainstream Alfas ever built, said Steve Cropley, editor in chief of Autocar magazine, the official organiser of the event in the UK. - Randeep Ramesh