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I bought my 156 1.8TS about 18 months ago now and I've loved every second of owning it.
My car is dark metallic red with a black leather interior and the glorious teledial alloys and when it gleams in the sun after being freshly washed, it looks fantastic.
The driving experience (the main reason I bought it) is brilliant too. The engine develops plenty of power but most of it is above 3000rpm, so you have to keep stirring the gears to get the best from it. If you're a keen driver however this wont be a problem (plus the engine sounds fantastic for a 1.8) and below 3000rpm it certainly isn't gutless. Handling is brilliant, theres an abundance of grip and the steering is direct and precise.
Even though mine comes with sports suspension, it's still a comfortable ride. You feel the bumps but the suspension is well damped so you're not bouncing around all over the place. The only slight issue I have with refinement is that in 5th gear at 70 miles an hour there is a bit too much engine and wind noise, but as I usually listen to music on long motorway journeys this isn't too much of a problem for me.
The saying that all Alfa's are unreliable is a myth. Mine has run pretty much trouble free since the day I bought it, the only issues being minor things which are easily fixable with a hammer and a screwdriver.
Build quality is a minor issue - the panels dont fit properly everywhere and you have to give the doors a proper shove for them to close properly, and I once took it through a car wash which wiped all the colour off the badges. The fusebox lid to the right of the steering wheel also kept dropping off, but I fixed this by drilling a hole in the dash and inserting a screw. Other than that though, the various knobs, buttons and levers all feel as solid as anything you'd find in a German car.
Running costs are surprisingly low for a car of this type - I average 30mpg in town driving, and 45mpg on motorways. Filling the tank up is a bit of a sting, but I'll usually get 350-400 miles of driving out of a tank of petrol, which is a monthly amount for me. Servicing is cheap as long as you keep your car well looked after, but the engine does drink a lot of oil (there's even a warning sticker inside that tells you so) and you'll have to regularly top up. Cambelts should also be changed every 36,000 miles, so check the service history. Insurance is high, but if you're a careful driver with plenty of no claims bonus then I reckon it's worth the extra outlay.
The heavy depreciation of Alfa Romeo's means that there are loads of great 156's out there for around £2000, making it a bargain to buy and a great choice if you're looking for something a little different.
I bought one of these cars about 4 years ago as I was taken aback by the styling. It had the sports interior which I have always loved with Alfas, the little touches like the driver dials angled away from the passenger seat (so they can't see what speed you're doing!).
I traded in a GTV as I needed something more practical and economical. The things I loved about the car....styling, engine, the fact it was an Alfa!
I must admit that after about a week of driving the selespeed I started to regret my purchase. Despite Alfa evolving the gearbox for years it actually was a nightmare to use. The gear changes were very slow to react and you had to master the art of using a combination of the paddle buttons on the wheel and the gearstick.
I lost a lot of money on the car in less than a year but if I was to buy one nowadays I would without question (not the Selespeed). When i came to sell the car dealers wouldn't go near it, as soon as you mentioned Selespeed they practically laughed. It was not one of Alfas finest pieces of engineering.
Nevertheless, I loved the car, I did drive a 2.5 V6 which made me very jealous and if I was looking for a fun run around I would buy one tomorrow. I put a high brow spoiler on the back which sounds horrendous but I assure you it really adds to the styling.
Go for leather, manual gearbox, full service history (with cam belt replaced) and you'll bag yourself a cracking car.
Alfa 156 1.8 TS
I have this car and I absolutely love it! It looks gorgeous and drives superbly.
This car is seriously fun to drive and the 144BHP 1.8 engine is not short of kick, especially when you run it just over 3000rpm. In fact, 0-60 in 8 secs makes it faster than an M line BMW 3 series, it handles better and will certainly turn more heads! Comfy and smooth to drive on the motorway too.
I chose the 1.8 to keep insurance costs down, but there is a 155 BHP 2.0 TS and a 190BHP V6.
I've had no trouble with mine, although main dealer servicing can be expensive. This is a car that is worth looking after and you can now pick one up relatively cheaply. Rumour has it that the semi automatic selespeed gearboxes are a bit dodgy, so i'd avoid those as they'd cost a bomb to replace.
I have a Alfa 156 2.5 V6 which is a bit like a deer stalkers hat, has two faces. The car is beutiful to look at with its shimering silver colouring, 16" alloys, subtle side skirts and touring car style high level spoiler, its certainly grabs attention. But, and oh yes there is a but, I have owned it since October 2000, and it has been in main dealer Alfa garages for a total of 64 days!! Two gearboxes, 6 speed each costing £2700 + labour, thankfully covered by Alfa's three year warranty, bt certainly this must be wrong, on a car that has covered a mere 25000 miles in its lifetime. When I got the keys back today, sat in the figure hugging black Momo leather drivers seat, I remembered why I still have this car, even after all these problems, the car is totaly addictive!! Slide that sleek red key in the ignition, turn it, and there it is.....the beutiful growl from that 24 valve work of art most of you would call the engine. Yes it is unreliable at times, oh yes it has a drinking problem, average city driving 14 miles to one gallon of super unleaded to be exact, but you forget that when you fire it up, and head for a quiet B road. It is the best handling front wheel drive car I have owned so far, my past including Fiat Coupe 20 Valve turbo, Mondeo ST24, Volvo S70, the Alfa is the most rewarding car I have had, the only front wheel drive car, that doesn't act like one, so sure footed and confidence building. To finish off with, forget the Bavarian 3 series that every man and his dog has, be different, be brave, try out the Alfa 156 2.5 V6 for yourself, turn the radio off, open the windows, and head for a quiet B road, you'll then be addicted, believe me, I am.
Reps Car? Na. Occasional run about? Na. My 156 18.TS SPORT is absolutely fantasic. Ok, so the panels don't quite line up all around. The doors have to be slammed shut (unlike anything from Germany). But there are very few cars that turn heads like my black Alfa when it's polished. The slightly lowered suspension with wide sports alloys and the little side skirts make this such a pretty looking car. Most of us could admire our own car when lovingly washed and polished. But is your Maestro or Volvo going to give as much pleasure as this little Italian beauty? I love the fact that on the one hand it's a practical car that will seat five adults for perhaps an hour at a time on a motorway in relative comfort. The boot's enormous for its class even though it's only a saloon. A few trips to the Hypermarket in France testify to that. However, with the hidden rear door handles it can also look like a sleek coupe. Around town the car is easy to drive with its pin-sharp steering and easy manners. Parking can be a bit of a pain as lock to lock comes round very quickly. But get out onto country roads and it shows it's racing heritage. Curves and sweeping bends effortlessly whizz by. Mind you the powerful disks all round (plus ABS - oops) soon mean that you can reign in the speed if necessary. I will say that with the wide 205/55/16 sports tyres road noise is a bit of an issue. Tramlining on well warn roads can also be a bore and you do find that you are instinctively avoiding potholes rather than cruising through them as you would in a 4x4. Most marques have a sports car in the range. Not Alfa the 147, 156, 166 and GTV/Spyder are all race bred. Some are faster than others, but all have enormous charisma and ooze styling. Other correspondents have talked about 40 mpg on motorway runs. What were they doing, 60 miles an hour? I'd dread to think
what I would get from the 2.5 V6 since my 1.8 only returns around 28-30 mpg on average. Maybe its the tyres. Maybe it's the Super-unleaded fuel. If you drive one, like me, you'll find that it's a slighly heavy right foot. Get the little red needle (for that is what you get - red on black with the sports option) above around 5,000 rpm and the car sings like a bird. Just over 7,000 where it red-lines and you've probably left most standard luxury saloons behind. Would I get another? If I had to meet the serving and depreciation costs myself probably not. However, as a company car, I couldn't have asked for anything more individual without sending all the wrong signals to clients and customer. I'm no rep, it's taken 19 months to clock-up 17,000 miles. They were the most enjoyable I've had in any car though. What's next for me? Sad to say but it's likely to be a family diesel automatic estate car. Worse than that - probably German. I will have to fund the cost of the next car and one with a three-pointed star will hold its value and not fall apart for so many years longer than the Alfa. It has to be done. I shall weep into my Chianti to see it go. It was fun while it lasted.
Alfa Romeo 156 Selespeed It is an amazing car with unique outer design and distinctive interior with leather seats, momo gear torch and pedals, circular speedometer and brilliant lighting. Another amazing thing about the car is its gearing. The car allows you to use the gearing both manual and automatic. The manual gearing can be controlled from the steering wheel or the joystick torch. The car is a high performance car with 2 litre and 155 hp engine. The factory test says the maximum speed is 122 miles, but I have managed to reach 135 miles. The factory test says the car reaches 62 miles from stop in 8.6 sec. This value cannot be reached, the best speed I could reach was 9.2 sec. The reason for this is the delay that is experienced when going through the gears. Through gears 1 and 2 there is an approximately half second delay. The electrical cut off is at 7000 rpm. When you reach 7000 rpm, the car automatically gears up, but looses momentum. If you change the gear around 6900 rpm it is very fluent but in gear 1 and 2 you feel the delay. The car is very strong and stable in high speeds. It is very smooth when going up the gears 3 and 4. It is very hard to lose the control of the back wheel. Another good aspect is the sensitive Formula 1 steering. It gives you great control through curves and great driving pleasure, but it makes it harder to park in small spaces. The car can be driven full automatic in the city mode, but it is really awful. It gears up very quickly. You can find yourself driving at 20 m/h at 4th gear, and can not speed up very quickly. It also causes problems when going up the hills, because if you stop up the hill, it is really hard to avoid sliding back.