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I've owned my Alfa Romeo 156 JTD for 2 years now and it still puts a big smile on by bearded face everytime I get behind the wheel.
I was never a fan of diesels but when I killed my last car in the great floods of 2006 I thought what the hell...gimme a big car with a big engine.
I found the 2.4 and took a test drive, the torque was mindblowing and the noise from that five pot at full throttle tightened my trousers, I bought it straight away.
As mentioned the fuel consumption should be good for 42mpg but the best I ever got was 36mpg on a drive from Glasgow to London, I suppose a torn boost pipe held together with cable ties didn't help lol
Now I know Alfa have a reputation for being unreliable but this is misleading, all cars outside Japan have reliablity issues. Yes I've had my fair share of problems with my car but it's always niggly things like the battery terminal constantly slipping off and the undertray falling off but nothing serious. One annoyance is that the car seems like it was built to be never taken apart, even the simplest jobs, such as changing a bulb or air filter, and you'll be cursing as you slice off your fingers. The engine however is bulletproof, it'll go on forever...it's the ancilleries that'll fail.
Because it's a turbo diesel you can easily get the engine remapped in about 10 minutes taking the 136 model nearly upto 190bhp - insane torque as well, accelertion in gear is frightening. The later 140/150 model can reach nealy 210bhp!!! The next best upgrade is the AR Q2 limited slip differential, fit one of these when changing the clutch and you'll find you can now go round corners, and go round them fast. Traction in rain and on ice is also vastly improved. These should be fitted to every car as standard.
This car is exceptionally comfortable (but can be clattery over potholes) and it's styling ensures it's the sexiest saloon ever produced - the hidden rear handles makes the car look like a coupe.
I know I've spent a good chunk of cash getting this car ship shape but I'd buy another...maybe the V6.
I have never considered buying Italian car. I was stuck with "reliable" Germans and Japanese cars. Then while looking for three year old BMW or Honda Accord I saw this beauty. It is dark red metallic with leather trim and all extras, that competitors offer as XXXEuro option, (automatic climate control, ABS, electronic traction and stability control - VDC, CD changer, parking sensors, navconnect system etc.)
Took it for a ride and guess what? I am now over year and a half proud owner of one of the most appealing vehicles. It looks great, it drives smooth and I didn't have a single problem yet (32k miles). And all that for a little more than a half of price dealer was asking for mentioned BMW 320i or Honda Accord 2.0. I couldn't believe how fast and powerful can be JTDm until I tried it. I must admit that only reason why I considered test drive (I was influenced by stories about bad reliability of Italian cars) was stunning look and outstanding conditions for used car. I can say that my next car will be Alfa Romeo as well. We'll see which one.
The best Alfa Romeo I driven! Fast, economic, beautiful and blast to drive! Good points: 1 It looks fantastic outside and inside. 2 Quality is pretty good, maybe not Audi build quality, but the difference between manufacturers is lessening. 3 It goes very well in real world driving, comparable to the 2.0 165bhp JTS. 4 It sounds great, - a throaty warble due to it's 5 cylinder engine. 5 It manages around 40mpg average. 6 For under £400 it can be chipped/remapped with another 30bhp taking it into another league. 7 The steering is very direct. 8 The gearbox/change is very slick. 9 It will hold it's value better than the 2.5, 2.0, 1.8 and 1.6 petrols. 10 It is very good value compared to the overpriced GTA. (GTA costs an extra £8-9k to buy initially, about £500 more per annum to insure, over an average 12,000 miles per annum, another £1000 in fuel and will cost more in tyres and servicing. And for what? To go a little bit faster when the roads permit and admittedly sounds fantastic.
Unless you live in a region with billiard table smooth roads! If you read my previous report on the 156 2.4JTD, you will be familiar with my problem; the car sits low to the ground, and on bumpy roads, bottoms out, cracking the sump and causing the oil to drain out. It has happened to me for the third time in four months. The dealer is doing his best, but Alfa don't want to know. They say there is not a problem with this model, but three sumps in four months at a cost of £500.00 each time is not reasonable. The latest info from Alfa tells me that as the car is a "sports saloon", it naturally sits quite low to the ground, and therefore would be more suceptable to grounding than a "normal" saloon car. They tell me not to drive it as fast. Yet all the advertising blurb that Alfa come out with tells me the exact opposite. So there you have it - buy an Alfa Romeo and drive it at speeds the Queen Mum would drive at! I bought an Alfa for the very reason that I would be able to cover the ground quite quickly in one, but AR themselves are now telling me that this is not the case. Therefore my advice to anyone considering a purchase of a 156 - any 156 - is not to. Alfa Romeo don't care once they have got your money off you.