Product Type: Alfa Romeo cars
Newest Review: ... to that engine note, you don't care. It would be hard to do any review of an Alfa Romeo without talking a bit about the 'X' factor. ... more
The 156 - Winner of Hearts
Alfa Romeo 156 2.5 V6 24V
Member Name: knight_jp
Alfa Romeo 156 2.5 V6 24V
Advantages: Great looks and handling, engine noise and Q-System control
Disadvantages: Jerky gear changes, ride comfort could be better
Perhaps one of the best selling of the modern Alfa range, the 156 enjoyed success beyond anyone would have expected of it. Coupe-ish looks, stunning interior, it certainly distinguished itself from the rest.Which is the best of the range, well depends on your preferrence really. The 4 cylinder Twin-Sparks, were fun to drive and selespeed was nice. But for my money I took the 2.5 V6 Q-System.
The 2.5 V6 has to be one of the best engines Alfa ever built. It is a rare sight on roads compared to Selespeed T-Sparks. The V6 engine note is meaty in comparison and you could feel the sports car pedigree rushing through your veins with every step of the throttle. It feels like you are in a Ferrari and since both are under the same group, easily understood why. Having such a heavy engine in front, you would think that the car will understeer in the corners. Yes it will, as the car is a front wheel drive, but not to the extent that you would expect. Infact as far as I have seen, you need to take a corner pretty fast to get that kind of response. Otherwise the handling is so beautifully balanced that you fail to realize that it is a front wheel drive car.
The ride is sharp and hard, but comfortable at the same time. To be honest it could be better, but when you listen to that engine note, you don't care.
It would be hard to do any review of an Alfa Romeo without talking a bit about the 'X' factor. No one really knows what it is and every Alfa owner (myself included) will say that there is something about the brand that keeps you coming back for more. Surely the BMW handles better. Yes it does, but after you drive an Alfa, you wouldn't care.
There is a magical quality to these cars and no matter how well built a BMW or Audi may be or how economical and reliable a Toyota or Nissan may be, they will never be able to match or come close to it.
The Q-Systems (QS) did not enjoy the best of reviews. If at all the gear changes seemed to be to jerky. It remains my fav among any named triptronic gear box in the sense that you could change gears through a normal 'H' gate rather than a '+' or '-'. This gave the driver control as if he was using a normal manual. The biggest downside to the Q-system is that there wasn't enough gears to utilize the full potential of the V6 engine. If it was offered with the T-Spark, you'd probably use it better.
Once you stop thinking like a race-driver and decide to just cruise on the open highway, you notice that the normal Auto mode is smooth. The Auto mode has 3 settings: City / Sport / Ice. This works really well and is extremely useful for fuel efficiency. Each mode tunes the engine and throttle response to give the best results. I use the 'City' mode for most of the time. Whether you are in traffic or cruising on the open highway. The engine is geared to give you enough torque to get the car moving at low RPMs. The means less fuel consumption. You can change the setting to 'Sport' on the move (not reccommended) but before you do, you need to prepare for it. When you do, its like hitting the NOS button in the fast and furious. The downshift shoots the car to insane speeds of 160 Km/h in a matter of seconds.
In terms of reliability, the 2.5 V6 enjoys a better reputation among Alfa owners when compared to the T-Sparks. And the QS is noted to be more reliable than the Selespeed. But if it really bothers you, a normal manual would be really good and more fun. To this day, I have no complaints or issues with my car apart from the usual ware and tear. Service your car on time and give it some TLC, the car is sure to reward you with thrills for a long time. Even a Japanese box needs TLC to keep it going.
Whatever the option you go for, the 156 is a winner of hearts. You'd probably have to wrestle with your mind to get one, considering Alfa's reputation in reliability and seeing the new 159. But when compared to the 159, the 156 has more presence and it sure to turn more heads. The 156 is a sure to be regarded as a future classic time to come and since the Q-System is no longer in production, my car is sure to be one in no time.
Summary: A BMW would be better built, but once you drive a 156, you wouldn't care.