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I bought my '98 R reg GTV 3.0 V6 as a second car in 2001. Quite simply it's the best car I've ever had. If you're looking for "bangs for your bucks" you can't get any better. Unfortunately I'll have to sell it soon and will REALLY miss it.
To sum-up it's a real hooligan - glorious noise, amazing performance, bit rough around the edges but you really do look forward to every drive - surely that's what driving's all about? A real character from the old school. One of the best things (apart from the noise)is the throttle response - the slightest touch and it's zings forward. You hear & read all these reports about the Alfa V6 being one of the finest engines ever built - and it's not until you experience it do you realise what all the fuss is about. And did I mention the noise??! You won't hear finer this side of a Lamborghini. Performance is huge - it easily keeps up with M3's & eats TT's, Z3's etc for breakfast. Sooooo smooth as well right upto the redline. On the motorway it's a beautiful cruiser. It really is a license shredder - be warned! And the looks - still beautiful after 11 years in production. You really do feel a sense of pride every time you see it in the drive or car park.
On the flip-side it's the usual Alfa niggles - eg) groaning suspension, expensive parts & labour, dodgy wipers, tiny boot, etc. It has a heavy feel as well. Not one for the girls. The engine however is absolutely unburstable as long as you do regular oil, filters, cam belts etc. You'll get about 18-20 mpg if you put your foot down (inevitable) but it's worth it for .... the noise (sorry!!).
Basically if you're after a performance coupe which is ultra-reliable, safe, lots around, great dealer service, big boot etc etc go for a TT, RX8, M3 etc. If you're a bit leftfield & only bothered about speed, sound, looks and love driving the GTV V6 3.0 is the only choice. Vive la difference!
I actually own a 156 1.8 Sport, but if you have ready my op on that, you will know that it has not been problem-free. After a replacement dashboard, gearbox and driveshaft I was getting disappointed and told the garage so quite clearly. They made it up to me on the first service. Four days in a 3.0 V6 GTV by way of an apology. I live in the Chilterns and the opportunities to drive this wonderful car in the crisp Autumn last year were outstanding. Everything that's already been written is true. The cabin is small (if nicely laid out in leather), the rear seats are low-slung shelves and the boot is two thirds full of a full sized spare tyre. What the heck, when you get the rev needle up around 7,000 it's so willing and the noise is outstanding. You'll be heading for every underpass and bridge you can find with the windows open just to hear the wonderful near 200 bhp growling like a pent up lion. Fuel economy is pretty rotten when driven hard, but I'm used to that from my Alfa. However, you do have to realise that you are sitting in a car the size of a Ford Fiesta with two of its engines under the bonnet. If you want decent fuel economy drive slowly, or get a Fiesta! I'll say that the looks are beginning to fade now. With the Elise, Honda S2000, Vauxhall and Z3 all chipping at it's feet, it's probably time for the tallented designers to have another go. For £30,000 you get into TVR territory but you have English build quality rather than Italian to worry about. A Z3 is probably a better bet. The BMW will be better finished and the boot is shallow but large compared with deep and narrow. The BMW will probably also go for longer without trouble and cost less too. But it's Italian... we don't expect perfection, just a heady love affair!
This car is a bit old fashioned in some respects; it is not very practical as it is really only a two seater; the rear seats are so cramped for leg room that when I first test drove it, we put our 9 month old baby in a baby seat in the rear, and although I am not tall (5'7") she still complained by kicking my seat! Its boot is tiny (about the size of one medium suit case). However, it was never designed as a family car and has many virtues. The engine is possibly the best of any car in this price bracket, assuming that you like the sound of a throaty smooth and powerful engine which sings all the way to 7,000 rpm. This is exploited by a six speed gear box, which means you have a wide choice of gears and some scope in sixth for saving fuel on long journeys. It is front wheel drive but feels balanced and grippy through corners and hangs on well even if pushed hard around a roundabout. The cabin is cosy, and you have an impression of good visibility as the windows seem big. The driving position is a little bit too high relative to the rest of the cabin and I suspect it is more suited to people with shorter legs. As it has a relatively big engine it pulls well from all speeds, and sounds wonderful in the process. My experience is not as an owner but from an number of test drives and by comparing it with my own car the Fiat Coupe 2 litre turbo, which is very similar but marginally better in my biassed opinion, being as capable performance wise, but much more spacious both in the rear cabin space and the boot, and offing significantly better fuel consumption. However if you are looking for a fun two seater sports car, give this one a try as bland it is certainly not!