Alfa Romeo are currently in their centenary year having being founded in 1910. They have a tradition of proud and loyal owners (Alfisti) and have a legendary racing heritage. Many people believe that any true car enthusiast or 'petrol head' only become so by owning their firsy Alfa Romeo. A proper drivers car.
My Car and impressions:
I have just become an Alfista with my recent purchase of the Alfa 166 3.0L 24v Sportronic. The V6 is the famous Alpha powerhouse that originated in a 2.5L displacement form but was bored out to a full 3.0L. The engine was eventually replaced as a fully rebuilt V6 in both 3.0L and 3.2L varieties.
Sportronic refers to the automatic gearbox which has basically one drive position but can be knocked left into a sport mode allowing quick shifting manually. In automatic form the car is responsive enough for most situations and when fully depressing the accelerator the car changes gear in 1/10 sec and unleashes some serious power.
My 3.0L version develops around 220bhp, hits 60 from a standing start in just over eight seconds and ploughs on to a maximum of 147mph. I have to say that the initial acceleration does seem quicker than that though the delivery is very smooth. I believe the manual boxes claim a 0-60 time of 7.7sec. This is quite impressive given the size and weight of the car.
Aesthetically the car is beautiful and classic Alfa though some may find the quirky low front a bit eccentric looking though there was a revised facelift in 2003. Everything inside is well detailed and those little Alfa touches are everywhere. I personally love the off centre speedometer which is displaced by the rev counter. Lovely white faced dials which light up in too colours to indicate the higher end of performance.
Inside is grey velour upholstery with pale gray leather door inserts. The seats are completely electronically controlled and can memorise 3 different driver positions. The are also heated which is an added bonus if somewhat unnecessary but hey it's a luxury car. The ICS system controls the stereo system which has a tape loader and a six disc changer in the boot which is flush to the side of the compartment. The colour display also allows control of radio functions, trip data and the climate control. Option extras are GPS and telephone.
The cabin is spacious and comfortably seats five though the rear seats has a folding arm rest for when passengers are limited to four. Interestingly, and rather oddly, this rest also allows access to the boot for the loading of skis. The ride comfort is extremely high considering the stiffened sports suspension and the car glides along with very little roll even at higher speeds. Speed bumps are the enemy as they can be very high impact but of course sensible driving is the order of the day here.
Whilst there is a high level of comfort as a passenger I think the cream is kept for the driver. The adjustable positions of the seat are so precise you can sit in comfort for mile after mile. Being an automatic of course there are only two pedals, a big break one and the accelerator. The left over space provides a large foot rest. The inclusion of cruise control makes touring a simple and relaxing task and motorway miles are eaten up with great style. Should the need arise you can put your foot down to make a safe and rapid overtaking maneuver albeit at a detriment to your mpg!
Fuel economy is always going to be a concern on the larger sized engines but a steady drive is relatively efficient. I say 'relatively' because longer journeys can give a return of between 25mpg and 30mpg ish whilst urban driving with lots of stops and starts cuts this down somewhat. Hell on wheels acceleration and a 'hard' driving style will slash your economy further but this is the pay off for high performance.
Alfa Romeo 'points of interest':
It is fair to say that over the years there have been reliability issues with the marque though this is less so today. When buying a second hand Alfa you must look for a good service history and the previous owners. A bloke called Derek who has owned the car for several years and serviced it regularly probably has a very good car indeed.
As always look for bodywork rust, uneven tyre wear, scuffed alloys and pulling to either side when accelerating or braking. Any unusual knocking or emissions should be avoided.
Alfa's depreciate rapidly. Very rapidly. This is not an indication of the cars quality however. They are excellent cars to rival the best of BMW and Audi but the German cars have always been stronger sellers. This makes some models of Alfa extremely rare. My car for example was only imported in the low hundreds which means allowing for wastage that there are few around. One model of 166 came into the UK in numbers less than ten! My car is 2001 registered as a 'Y' and would have cost in the region of £30,000 yet I picked it up for just £1500!! Luckily it had just two previous owners and was in tip top shape.
Spare parts can be expensive so shop around. Look around around for special offers and smaller specialist shops as main dealers can be shock inspiring with their bill. And then they add VAT.
So buying an Alfa is a bit of a lottery but the odds are very good with some sensible viewing and some common sense. For very little money you can buy a well specified car with oodles of performance and style and more importantly a piece of Italian racing heritage.
This car is an awesome luxury tourer that is full of toys and delivers blistering performance. The power can be latte smooth or an espresso hit. Comfort and style go hand in hand and the car would suit any driving style. Buy a good quality second hand car and you could have a friend for life that will serve you reliably as long as you treat it well.
The 3.0 litre model does justice. Power, Style and Character. If you have the money, and need a big executive car, this is what to get. Never mind the BMW's or the Jags, this is true style. The scultping is fantastic, and easy going design, which still has a touch of sport within it. The interior is superb with an 6 inch LCD display screen, allowing you to customize the setup really easily. Change the climate control with a touch of a couple of buttons. Or change the CD in the 6 CD changer, positioned in the boot. Another great feature about the car, which is sometimes underrated in all cars are the heated seats. These are a great luxury, and really make a difference. If you're ever in a bad mood, these'll make you feel better in no time. The boot is large and can hold 2 suitcases, with other luggage packed around the sides. One thing to show just how stylish the car is, is the fact there are no cup holders on the inside... this could be put down has a disadvantage...depending on how much you drink whilst driving! The engine is fantastic, the V6 3.0 can roar to 60 seconds in no time. It's great for getting out of tricky situations. As far as parking goes, if you have the parking sensors fitted this is a great help. Parking such a large car is sometimes difficult, and once you are parked, you can tuck in the electronic wingmirrrors, and when you fire the car back up they will return to their original position. Another feature which aids the driving is the rain sensor on the windscreen. This automatically detects how much water is present on the windscreen, and increases or decreases the rate of the window wipers depending on it. Comfort and Style, wrapped up into the £30,000 band.
Many of you, like I did, probably think that a car like this is beyond your means - but not necessarily. You see the 166 depreciates heavily as soon as it leaves the forecourts but then rapidly slows down after the first year. I bought mine for only £11.5k! One of the best executives around. I only had it for a while but in that time I learnt of its smoothness and refinement. There's plenty of space and it just oozes quality. You could fit the Titanic in the boot and the cabin is well designed. It has the tendency to be unrelible - but who cares when you've got a car like this! One of the best in its class - a must for anyone who likes the finer things in life.
I echo the enthusiasm of the other two reviewers. This is, I imagine, one of the best combinations of luxury and oomph that can be bought for the price. Having only done less than 3000 miles on my 3-litre 6-speed manual version I haven't yet got the full benefit of the engine, but am already impressed and am looking forward to the time when it will have loosened up more. The various screens that one has to learn about take some getting used to, and at first a fair amount of time is spent just finding out how to work them. The fact that the screen is rather low down in the centre of the car means that one has to get accustomed to looking down leftwards and up again pretty smartly if there's much traffic around. Before buying this car I had a test-drive on a Jaguar S-type, which many people might feel would be a comparable machine. Sadly I have to say that in my opinion the Alfa is far and away the better bargain. Its nimble performance leaves the rather squashy Jag in the shade, and furthermore the model I tried was the top of the range and cost £33,000. The ordinary version was £5,000 less but came without "extras" which are standard on the 3.0 166, such as Cruise Control. All in all, a most satisfactory purchase. Pugwash, 13-8-00
I have worked for Fiat imports and got to drive most of the cars in the fleet. This car is just WOW. Take the best of the 156, Coupe, and Ferrari and its all here. The seles speed gear box just glides between gears, this lets you consentrate on control. Handling is a dream, even under heavy acceleration. Top speed is faster than they say, well we got 150 around the dock! This leads to avery good breaking system. All that F1 technology is not going to waste, they have put alot of it in here. If you want a fast exec, car with guts but it.
I have a 2.5 litre 166 and it is a truly marvelleous car. I would like to say it has no faults. It is beautiful, comfortable powerfull and has all the safety devices you could need. The climate control is super efficient and the satellite navigation very useful. However it does have a couple of snags. First the turning circle is quite poor. This can lead to problems turning right on narrow roads. Secondly the rear visibilty when reversing is restricted. However parking is simplified by using the side mirrors which can be adjusted electrically. It is of course quite thirsty. b ut I guess you do not buy a car like this unless you are prepared for that. 18-22mpg around town and 30 mpg on a long journey is the best I can achieve. I have driven mine from new for 6000 miles without a single fault developing-highly recommended.