Product Type: Alfa Romeo cars
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Beauty is not enough..
Alfa Romeo 147
Member Name: helencb
Alfa Romeo 147
Date: 30/04/05, updated on 03/05/05 (15583 review reads)
Advantages: Looks, Handling
Disadvantages: Alfa Service
Definitely one of this car's strengths, it is not a particularly big car, but powerful, and an excellent streamlined shape, even down to those hidden rear door handles, which make most passengers think it is only a three door! Its styling does appeal to most car drivers, and the car itself won Car of the Year 2001 even before it went on sale within the UK market.
Safety Equipment and Security
This car has a plethora of safety equipment as standard in the range, including six airbags, which thankfully have never been deployed, Anti-Lock brakes, which have occasionally proved their value, traction control, front fogs, and a high third brake light, being among the key features. .
On the downside, the car only achieves three stars from NCAP in terms of passenger protection. This surprises me, considering the general feel and sturdiness of the car, which is by far the best I have experienced for a car in this class (I used to have a fantastic Audi A3 diesel, but I still prefer the superior feel of the Alfa Romeo.
The car is fitted with immobiliser and remote central locking/alarm, both of which have been fully functional during the car's lifetime. The boot can also be opened remotely or from the inside of the vehicle.
Comfort and all the Little Extras
My car had the Optional Comfort Pack which includes black momo leather sports seats with lumbar support (and heated seats are standard in the range, which is ideal for cold early starts). The Comfort pack also included a rear armrest for the passengers in the back and rear headrests - which are great for safety, although they can block the driver view a little, and mine are currently stowed in the boot. The steering column is adjustable, for those that care about such things. Air conditioning is standard across the range, and I have always found this very effective, whether to cool down or warm up! The aircon is dual zone, so driver and front seat passenger can set their own preferred temperature.
Whoever bought my car brand new certainly loved their toys, and as a result I have a better sound system in the car than perhaps in the house. The boot mounted CD player can handle up to ten discs, and if that isn't enough, then there is an 11th option by utilising the CD player intended for the Sat Navigation system. The sound system itself is Bose and if I understand Alfa's pricing correctly, this system would have been almost £900 in extras alone!
Alloy wheels are also fitted as standard, as is cruise control and Power Steering. I must admit I rarely use the cruise control, as despite having owned another vehicle with this feature, I prefer to retain control. That said, for the driver doing a lot of motorway driving, and who does not want to be caught on every speed camera, it is a great worthwhile benefit!
The car is certainly comfortable for one/two passengers, and the fact that I am a high mileage driver and I don't have any complaints about driving over longer distances (in fact I LOVE it!) should mean that most drivers will not have any complaints in this regard.
As with most hatchbacks, there is not a great deal of room in the back for adult passengers, and I certainly couldn't see five people travelling in comfort for any stretch of time. I have had two passengers plus luggage and a lot of business equipment in the car for five hours, and it was quite a squash - the only time I was grateful to get out and stretch my legs properly in the period of ownership.
The boot isn't huge either. Officially is 280 litres, but in practical terms that can hold a couple of suitcases, but won't hold two sets of golf clubs. The rear seat does split and fold down for larger loads, so it's rarely a big issue for me.
If there are problems with the car that need adressing or general warnings, then these are given via hte dashboard display and include such items as bulbs that need replacing down to "Serious Engine Failure, Pull Over" and ice warnings.
On the Road
Officially its 16 valve 2.0 multi point fuel injection engine can manage 0-60 mph in 9.0 seconds, and this car has always been an absolute pleasure to drive. It is perhaps the car that has been the most fun out of all the cars I have ever owned/company owned. The car's official top speed is 129 mph with 150 BHP, which I am sure, has to be the most powerful car I have owned. Yet it feels totally solid even at high speeds such as motorway driving. The car has chunky 205/55 tyres and disc brakes all round. With ABS this car can stop quickly when it has to.
Insurance group 14 means this car will not be suitable for the younger driver or those living in an inner city area. My own insurance premium is around £280, plus a further £40 or so for protected no claims bonus, and that is based on maximum bonus and living in a rural area (for the time being anyway).
I paid £9995 for my car in March 2004. This was purchased from a major car dealer (although not an Alfa dealer) Consulting the autoexpress used car pricing guidelines, a 3 door model a year older now costs around £8200 The new price for the vehicle would have been around the £16.2K mark, almost four years ago, and so this doesn't seem to represent drastic depreciation (Cars never hold their money unfortunately!), at least better than I expected for a make that has suffered from a poor reputation for holding its value. I wouldn't have liked to have owned the car from brand new, but would always much rather someone else owned it for a couple of years and therefore bore the brunt of the depreciation for me!
Filling this car with a tankful of petrol now sets me back slightly over £50, depending on where I fill up (usually the nearest garage once the thing starts beeping at me!!). My fuel economy over combined urban and motorway has been around 29 mpg, which compares reasonably well with the manufacturer quoted statistic of 31.7 mpg. If you really want to depress yourself, you can watch this adjust as you accelerate/decelerate, but it's probably not advisable!
Nothing is to be saved on the fuel tax unfortunately, as the car is in the highest banding for emissions, with greater than 185 g/km, and a road tax of £165 per annum. If you were to own this car as a company car, you can expect to pay £1900 in income tax per year, based on the higher tax bracket and 3000 business miles per year.
Servicing should be carried out at least every 12 months or 12000 miles in line with many popular manufacturer's guidelines.
Reliability and Alfa Service
Oh dear, we have had some fairly serious problems here unfortunately. In fact for the first three months, I think the car spent more time in our appallingly poor Arnold Clark dealer, than it did with me.
The car came with Satellite Navigation which was a factory fitted option, and includes a fantastic centre console which looks after navigation, telephone, music, the whole works. Unfortunately when we bought the car (still under warranty - just) the Satellite Navigation was not working properly, and the car thought it was on the Isle of Arran. While when we got through to Alfa themselves, service was fine, the dealer gave consisently bad service, including telling us the unit was not covered as it was In Car Entertainment and not covered under warranty (incorrect), then replacing the unit twice at considerable expense to Alfa before finally diagnosing the correct fault of a faulty aerial! Finally we needed to call Trading Standards to get them to put the car back in the condition it was in when we took it in for the work - when the telephone system responded to English commands, and not Italian ones…
Engine wise the cam belt snapped four days before the end of the 3 year manufacturer's warranty. The car was in for nearly three weeks, and I had to rely on poky 1.0 hire cars for this time, as this was obviously a major repair. The car had done around 44000 miles at the time, and so wasn't due for replacement either. The very nice AA man that towed me back to the dealers advised me he had seen a few cases such as mine…very reassuring!
I have also had a broken Windscreen arm which need replacing at over £100 as I recall; parts only.
In fact as far as reliability goes, this has probably been the worst car I have owned, which is a disappointment, as I absolutely adore owning and driving this car.
The manufacturer's warranty covers the first 3years/60000miles of the car's life, after which additional warranty can be expensive. I think the best way around this is to take the AA's Parts and Labour cover, at relatively little cost per year. All new alfas come with AA membership for the warranty period, including a courtesy hire car for two days if the worst should happen.
I guess the last section does make grim reading, and it is a shame, as Alfa have long had a reputation for shoddy service. They obviously have a lot of ground to gain in establishing themselves as having a leading aftersales service.
As for the car itself - it goes like an absolute dream most of the time! I really wouldn't want to swap it out any time soon, although regrettably I have to. In terms of an overall star rating I would have to give 7/10 with three stars being lost for both the technical and service issues which I have experienced. If Alfa could sort out its dealers, they would be on to a winning formula for sure.
(and the title is Alfa's own tagline...)