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The Alfa Romeo 147 is a great little car with fantastic performance, and strong reliability. Its sleek Italian styling is very appealing, and you feel $1,000,000 dollars driving it. The interior is stunning. Usually with gorgeous leather and very well equipped to fit your entertainment needs. The fine handling and advanced engines offer a very strong competitor to the equivalent BMW or Audi for a fraction of the price.
There are 4 engine options, all of which are very good. Ranging from a 1.6 to a 3.2. Some models caontain a 6th gear, this improves the economical side of things, which aren't all that great. The handling is great, the car is as sporty as it looks. Fantastic steering, and fluid gear changes make for a very enjoyable drive. The brakes are very responsive, this can take a bit of getting used to.
The reliability of this Alfa Romeo is actually very good. Which is fairly surprising, as the previous range of Alfas (the old breed) were a bit sketchy when it came to the MOT date.
Depreciation is the biggest negative about this car, don't expect it to hold its value.
I had purposefully avoided buying an Alfa Romeo for years due to their reputation for unreliability, whilst always harbouring a desire to one day own one. In the end, around 3 years ago, I decided to throw caution to the wind and purchased a privately owned 1.6 TS Lusso, from a local seller who had clearly looked after it.
It was a 2003 03 registered model with a little over 80,000 miles on the clock, for which I paid a little under £2,000. I remember my feelings of trepidation at handing over the money, tempered a little by the sight of the admittedly beautiful car I would be getting in return.
The 1.6 Lusso is a 3-door manual car, with everything you would expect from a new vehicle, despite the fact that mine was 7 years old at purchase. Climate control, a trip computer, stereo remote control, CD player and excellent alloys are all standard with the model, making driving a relaxing experience.
The only other person I know who owned one of these cars, a work colleague, complained to me that he always found it a bit uncomfortable to drive as the ride was too firm. For myself, I have encountered no such problems, but I think that I have always preferred the ride in vehicles to be a little firm anyway.
The seats are excellent, offering quality lumbar support, so long journeys can be made without encountering any back or leg soreness. I was a fan of the interior as a whole, which was light and airy, the layout of the controls nicely situated and attractive white dials on the dashboard.
From the driving standpoint it is lovely to own, as it is a real head-turner, and with your foot down on the open road it has a nice turn of speed for a car with a smaller engine size. It can be expensive to own however, fuel consumption, tax and insurance along with any minor repairs which may need to be undertaken will all cost more than a similar sized German or Japanese car.
Overall though I have no regrets in purchasing and owning one. The reliability issues never came about, barring a few minor repairs which all cars go through (clutch cable, bushes etc) and it was never less than a pleasure to drive.
I believe if you purchase one like I did, with a full service history and clearly loved and well-cared for, you shouldn't have too many problems. Or maybe I was just lucky!
So the saying goes, every petrol head needs to have owned an Alfa Romeo. Classing myself in that category I purchased a second hand Alfa 147 in 2009. On the plus side it looks good but beware, servicing and parts can be expensive. When I have needed to replace parts, I have shopped online for cheaper parts and taken those to the dealer to fit rather than buying them direct from the dealership, helping me to save a bit of money.
Despite a few niggling problems with the starter motor and door locks it has been running pretty well for the last year and a half. Admittedly I might not be so blasé about the niggling problems had I not had a warranty for 2 years from the dealership. However in my numerous dealings with them the Alfa garage has always been friendly, polite and helpful.
There are a few other negatives; like there isn't enough leg room in the back seats and the CD player my model came with was really basic. But positives include really supportive front seats and it is great to drive.
It is a great car but if you want to own one be prepared to spend a bit of time in and out of the dealership sorting out intermittent problems. On that basis I am sad to say that when my warranty runs out I'll be looking to purchase something that is more reliable.
I bought my Alfa 147 1.6 Lusso in Nov. 04 in second-hand (manufactured in Jan. 04). I loved it for at least a year, until serious problems started to occur:
In my first year of ownership I experienced some minor annoying problems like fan noises, window rubber sealing adrift, defective airbag sensor, but the car was under manufacturer's warranty (2 years) and this issues were temporarily fixed.
When this warranty expired and was replaced by the 3rd year Dealership warranty, things became suddently much more difficult:
My car was definitely not reliable and soon I experienced problems with the manual gear box (defective bush that prevented changing from 2nd to 3rd gear), fan motor (Again!) and Climate control broken.
For the gear box, my car was stuck in my Alfa-Romeo Garage in Leicester for 3 weeks - mainly because they did not get round to looking at it for at least 2 weeks.
Not an issue when you have a replacement car....
...But Alfacare scheme only provides you a replacement car free of charge for 48h!!!!
Then you must pray that the dealership is willing to let you borrow one of their courtesy cars. Most of the time they don't, as they prefer to book their courtesy car for less urgent but more profitable matters (like customers requesting a very dear yearly service at up to £250).
For the fan and the climate control issue, Alfa Dealer warranty reps argued that electrical items, harnesses, pipes, hoses are not covered by the 3rd year dealer warranty. Hence 70% of the car components are not covered!!
Bear in mind that when you visit the Alfa-Romeo UK Website, when it comes to the 3rd year dealer warranty, these restrictions are not mentioned at all - the servicebooklet and the site both boast 'The third year warranty is as comprehensive as the first!'
So I have now reached the conclusion that the legal information in the official Alfa-Romeo UK website are illegal.
This fact did not seem to bother either AlfaCare (managed by the AA, responsible for the 3rd year warranty) or Alfa-Romeo UK Customer services department...
In any case it cost me £300 to fix everything, 3 weeks without a car, at least 20h on the phone, lots of frustration and on the top: My car has been damaged twice while at the dealership:
-Puncture in the tyre discovered afterwards: Unlucky for me, another £100
-A dent in the body that I discovered in the dealership, despite they mentioned that they inspected the car before handing me back the key.
Also, cherry on the cake, when I informed them about the puncture, they called me "a French twat". (At least that's half true as I am French.)
When I reported the racist insults to Alfa Central customer services, they were horrified and promised to act. After 2 months they've done nothing. I havent even had a letter of apology and I am left disgusted by the thought of returning to my local garage.
So, that's my experience with Alfa-Romeo UK:
-Unreliable cars and the worst customer services ever experienced (even worse than my broadband supplier Tiscali!)
And you could think that things would go better in the future, when you listen to Mr. Jeff Culkin (Marketing Director for Alfa Romeo UK ). I quote him:
"We are moving the Alfa Romeo image from where it is today back to a premium brand with premium products and with our dealers trained to give a premium level of customer care"...
But don't be fooled by this, this declaration was made early 2005 before all my problems started.
He also said that with the new models "We now build better cars and we now have to deal with customer service issues".
I had the privilege to drive a new Alfa 159 as a hired car. Great style, superb drive, but...
The driver's door sticks on opening as both front and rear doors were not correctly fitted: You need both hands on the handle and a great yank to get the door open from the ouside and a good bash with your shoulder from the inside.
Also both rear electric windows opened whilst parked overnight and I couldnt get them closed again. I might not have minded if it hadnt been pouring with rain during my 200 miles back to the rental agency.
Mr. Culkin: Is it the type of Quality improvement you expect to compete in the premium market?
My Alfa experience has left me determined not to buy an Alfa again (at least until they've solved the problems with service...).
I must admit that I will miss the great feeling of driving these cars (when the damn thing is working) but I also will feel a sense of freedom from the tyrany of the Alfa dealership - as you know the next problem (and battle to get them to fix it) is never far away...
i have had one of these cars for the last 6 month and have used it to ferry myself to and from work. i was first drawn to the look of the car, however now i am more impressed with the performance and handling. even tho i bought the carsecond hand i have spent no money on any aspects of maintance ect. the cornering is level and gives good driver feedback. the braking is also very good and well tweek to the cars very good day to day performance. as a track car the car is good for what it is. i took it down to my local track and swapped with a vw golf driver and even he was taken back by how well the car had been balaneced and arranged
I have always loved Alfas, and decided to take the plunge and get myself one just over 18 months ago. I paid 3k for a y reg 5 door 147 2.0 lusso with full service history.
The plus points are that this car is a really nice drive, everything feels of good quality, and is within easy reach. This car is packed full of gadgets, such as cruise control, heated leather seats, speed limiter, dash light dimmer, alloys, electric mirrors, dual airbags, dual climate control and i could go on!
The negatives are that they have a lot of common faults. I wasnt worried so much about the well known electrical problems, but when things start going wrong with these cars, the list just keeps going! First a well known issue of the motor control failure warning light (sounds serious hey?) and was quoted varying prices to have this repaired, from £50 for a new exhaust sensor, through to over 500 for a new ecu! Im a member of the Alfa Romeo owners club, and quicly found out that even main dealers have major problems in correctly diagnosing what the cause of the fault is, as it could be down to several things.
Next the driver airbag warning light came on, i had this tested, the airbag is fine, but theres a problem with the sensor (yet another electrical fault i hear you cry!) £30 to have this reset, came back on within a matter of weeks!
Next, a rather unexpected pothole finds itself under my wheels, the car bottoms out, and the undertray of the car breaks. I had to pull this off on the side of the road, as it was dragging on the floor, which then revealed a damaged sump (yet another common problem with this car) Now the 147's are known for being heavy oil guzzlers, approx 1ml per mile! The cracked sump didnt help this situation, another 100 quid gone on my pride and joy!
The latest issue is I now have no 4th gear, again another common fault. Apparently the swarf builds up in the gearbox easily, and every now and then you have to take apart the whole wheel arch, to access the gearbox, remove the housing and clean it out.
This has been the last straw, and my dream car is now sitting in the drive waiting for me to decide the most economical way of disposing of her!
I purchased a used alfa romeo 147 lusso approximately 7 months ago. I have always wanted a 147 to call my own ever since learning to drive 4 years ago and was extremely happy to have managed to buy an 03 plate red alfa at what I thought was a great price for its condition-£2800! I was warned before hand by several people that alfas are notorious for their electrical faults but chose not to pay attention, within a matter of 2-3 months everything started going wrong! first one of the brake lights went out-fixed that but then the parking registration light stopped working-fixed that but THEN the lights inside the car boot failed! having them the cam-belt went!its just been problem after problem!Took it to the garage and they found the engine had completely crashed! several garages quoted me £800-1000 worth of damage repair! I've never been so disappointed to let a car go as much as i have with letting the alfa go but with parts being so expensive and the car breaking down so much I could not afford to keep it any longer!
I bought a new 147 special edition Ducati Corse after falling in love with it when I saw it in the showroom last October. I have since covered 10,000 miles in 5 months, and am happy to report that it is still as sound as the day I drove it away. The diesel engine is powerful and it is a lovely car. The only two minor niggles were a small rattle from the boot area, which was quickly rectifed by Alfa, and that it can be a bit uncomfortable on very long journeys. Otherwise, it absolutely perfect. I get 55mpg at best when driving on the motorway, good looks, good speed and good handling, which has made me a very happy customer. And people laugh at diesel Alfas! I dont see why they have such a bad name for reliability, as I have had no problems at all, despite covering nearly 500 miles a week. Would I buy another? Definately.
I own an Alfa 147 TS and absolutely love it! That's not to say that I haven't had my share of problems like all other Alfa owners!
The looks of this car certainly put it in a league of it's own, it's quite simply stunning! You can't beat Italian design! The great styling also exists i the interior, attention to detail is so obvious everywhere you look!
The main problems I have had were with the ABS and VDC failure lights coming on. The car has been in and out of the garage more times than I have had hot dinners to try and fix it but they cannot find a fault! Other minor problems include the rear windscreen washer not working and the windscreen leaking slightly. She has just developed a knocking sound which I think is from the suspension, I will be taking her to the garage again this weekend!
Fuel economy not bad for a 2.0L averaging at 30mpg
Comfortable seats and driving position
Attention to detail in the interior
Superb sound system
Lot of car for the money
Quite expensive to insure (Group 14)
No matter how many times this little car lets me down all I have to do is look at her and I forget all my worries! Don't let the reliability put you off owning one of these little beauties, it really is a corker of a car!
Everyone needs to own an Alfa at some point in their life to appreciate the love hat realationship with them!
I purchased a new Alfa Romeo 147 in 2001. The car drives brilliantly and has some great features but I would advise anyone to run a mile rather than buy one. I have had constant electronic problems, especially with lights, and it sometimes seems to be more often at the Alfa service garage than in my own garage.
However, the real nightmare arrived 4 weeks ago, when, the day after a full service (the car has been faithfully maintained), it conked out on a remote country road. The cam belt had gone and caused an estimated NZ$9,000 damage to valves etc. The car had done 110,000 kms, and despite Alfa apparently (I have since learned) having issued a warming about cam belts needing to be replaced after 3 years (!!), in my car's many service checks the cam belt had not been replaced. If you are thinking of buying an Alfa 147, be sure to check out the service facilities in your area, and the trustworthiness of the staff. I have had nothing but evasive answers, attempts to blame me for the problem - and no action!
I purchased a brand new Petrol Alfa Romeo 147 Lusso in June 2005. I purchased the car due to the car's appearance but since then learnt that looks arent everything! I have experienced two major problems with my car, A faulty cam variator is causing my car to sound like a diesel on start-up and also a severe clutch judder. I have taken my car to my nearest dealer to get these problems resolved only to be told off the area manager that they acknowledge there are faults but want to wait to see if the problems become worse.
I paid a lot of money for this car which was believed to come with a two year's manufacture's warranty and to be told that I have to drive my supposedly pristine and high class car around sounding like a bag of spanners and juddering disgusts me.
I have recently had a second opinion on these matters at a local garage who also were shocked on what service Alfa Romeo were offering and confirmed that these problems needed resolving. I have contacted Alfa Romeo Customer Services regarding this matter only to be told that the Area Manager has the final say.
I am sending this message out to people who are deciding whether or not to purchase one of these cars to personally stay well clear, As stated above I have experienced major problems after only twelve months on a brand new car and when I required the problems fixing under there warranty stated on there web-site realised they did not carry out what they preached.
This matter is now in the hands of my solicitors but I would like to warn other people of what trouble I have had and are still having to this day.
WHAT IS IT?
The 147 is Alfa Romeos compact hatchback, produced in three and five door forms and competing in the Ford Focus / Vauxhall Astra market. This is actually an interesting, diverse and most popular market sector now, outselling all other types of car. The competition is fierce and many of the alternatives, such as the Honda Civic, are new and bang up to date.
In 2001 the Alfa 147 was voted European Car of The Year.
WHICH SPECIFIC MODEL?
The actual car that I am reviewing here is right at the top of the Alfa 147 tree. It is a five door 1.9JTD 150 Lusso. The 1.9JTD 150 has the most powerful two litre version of the now ubiquitous GM (Vauxhall / Saab) engine in it, which was co-developed with Fiat, parent company of Alfa Romeo.
IN WHAT CAPACITY AM I REVIEWING THIS CAR?
OK, hands up, this is not my own car. This review is the result of an extensive test drive at the Millbrook Test Facility in Bedfordshire, I was attending in my capacity as Fleet Manager, the annual Company Car In Action event held there in late June.
I am aware by now that some amongst our number feel strongly that this is nowhere near enough experience of a car on which to base a review, I would be inclined to agree with them had I not had YEARS of experience driving and choosing cars at this event. This is no mere run around the block with a salesman test drive. Here you drive the cars on your own (with my wife in the passenger seat on this occasion) around a very testing mountain course as well as a high speed bowl which simulates long distance motorway driving.
The overwhelming advantage of test driving cars at this particular event is that you get to experience them back to back with any of their competitors, in controlled and identical circumstances.
I am also aware that no review is ever more controversial than one of mine concerning an Alfa Romeo. Their owners are amongst the most loyal and enthusiastic of any on the road. I always counter this by saying that Alfas have been part of our company fleet since the mid-1970s, I have many, many years of experience with this particular marque!
Let me start here by saying that Alfas are not what they once were, especially on running costs and in a positive way on this score at that!
PURCHASE COST 7 / 10
Being the very top of the range 147, this one at £18,100 on the face of it looks fairly pricy. However, the Alfa dealer if you can locate one, an increasingly futile task is likely to knock a large chunk off of that. My internet search showed discounts of between £2000 and £5000 (yes £5000!!!) off the price of one of these cars.
The problem here is that, high-tech engine apart, you are not buying the latest technology. Most of the Alfas competitors at a similar price look newer and fresher, they will also, without exception, have better dealer support.
THE OPTIONS GAME: 8 / 10 or How much do I need to spend to make it habitable?
The Lusso trim pack includes everything that you would ever desire in a car of this type. However, this particular Alfa UK demonstrator had exactly £2000 worth of options on it, including leather upholstery (£900), metallic paint (£400) and Xenon headlamps with washing system for a further £700. Metallic paint apart, in all honesty this car is well enough equipped and I would certainly avoid adding all of those expensive and high-depreciating options to it.
DEPRECIATION 5 / 10 Always the biggest running cost.
Due to the age of the 147 range, which itself is an update of the 145 / 146 predecessor, depreciation is going to be below class average. Also hammering residual values are Alfas very poor standing in the JD Power, Which and German ADAC reliability surveys.
My book tells me that at three years old and with 30,000 miles on the clock, the Alfa will be worth 44% of its value new. A similarly priced VW Golf would retain 60% of its list price, an Audi A3, BMW 1 Series or Honda Civic would be worth 58%. To be fair, the Alfas more mass market competitors do depreciate similarly, an £18,000 Ford Focus would be only worth 42% of its original cost, whilst a Peugeot 307 or Vauxhall Astra would hold onto 48% of their value.
FUEL ECONOMY 9 / 10
Here is one area where the Alfa 147, at least in diesel form, is more than class competitive. The GM 1.9 Turbodiesel engine is probably, in real world use, the most efficient of the current (around) two litre four cylinder diesel engines. You would be unlucky to achieve less than 45mph and would in all probability average 50mpg when avoiding too many short runs and cold starts.
SERVICE & MAINTENANCE COSTS 7 / 10: are you going to make the dealer rich?
No, but you may end up lining BPs pockets!
I am not sure that an Alfa Romeo franchise ever made any dealer rich! Traditionally they spent so much time sorting out niggling warranty claims with scant factory back up, that many gave up dealing with Alfa of their own volition. So bad has the reputation of the Alfa dealer network become in the UK that the manufacturer has decided to take drastic measures.
Fiat is, at this late hour, attempting to use Lexus as a benchmark when marketing and servicing Alfas. All very well and good, but few of us seem to have a local Alfa dealer at all right now, the service costs may well be average and not break the bank, travelling upwards of 50 miles in each direction just for a service may well end up trying the patience of even the most die hard Alfisti.
Let the fun begin! You want to know what this car is like to live with and to drive and be driven in .
STYLING 8. /10: A very subjective category here.
Like the styling or not, the 147 remains a design of unusual originality in a world full of bland two box hatchbacks. The actual shape has been around for many years now, although the latest nip and tuck has successfully brought that shape up to date.
This is a very colour sensitive car, probably in common witrh every Alfa that I can remember, the pale metallic beigey-green of the 147 driven here did absolutely nothing for the looks of the car at all. Red or black suit this shape the best.
OVERALL BUILD QUALITY AND FINISH 7 / 10 Does it look as though it was slung together?
Whilst not manufactured to the obviously hairline tolerances of your average Audi, VW or Skoda, Alfa have made great strides when it comes to overall build quality. The paintwork, particularly of other red and black cars here looked particularly deep and glossy. Letting down that initial impression was the slightly cheap sounding clang on closing the front doors the stiffer three door body may well be better on that particular score.
SAFETY 4 /10 If it comes to the worst, how well are you and your family going to come out of it.
This now is showing the cars age. In 2006, the fact that the 147 only has a lowly three out of five score on the internationally recognised Euro NCAP test rating is a worry. All of its competitors have at the very least four points, most of them five.
I would partly make allowances for this if the car felt in some way dynamically above average, but having driven Astras, Civics and even a Skoda Octavia on the same day, sadly it does not. Also drawing criticism from me on the safety front is the well below average all round visibility see visibility below.
Had Alfa provided a demonstrator differently trimmed, I may have felt differently about this. As it was our car was unremittingly black inside, from the leather seats to the door trims and dashboard.
ERGONOMICS 7 / 10 Before I can start the engine and drive away I need to feel at home in the working environment. The relationship between the controls and how I, the driver, am able to instinctively operate those controls is, all important. This for me is make or break, before I drive a car, if it does not instinctively feel right in this department then I will never like it or ultimately buy it.
Alfa have managed to create a genuinely different interior which works surprisingly well ergonomically. I had no problem hopping into this car and driving away from the off, merely having adjusted the position of the drivers seat.
VISIBILITY: 4 / 10
Regrettably those thick door and roof pillars do not, in this case, make a safer car. Compounding this impression are the wonderfully stylish, but rather impractical door mirrors. The view through the small rear window is not all that good either. This is not a good car for new or inexperienced drivers and being used to better all around visibility I felt it a little intimidating to drive for a compact car.
SPACE: 6 / 10:
Trimmed in any colour but funereal black, this interior would I am sure appear far more spacious. Up front there are no criticisms of the available space, although to give the passenger more space the fascia panel on the nearside has been cut away in a rather exaggerated manner.
This probably is not the type of car that you would buy if you regularly carry two (or three!) people in the back. However again, the rear space is well below the class norm, which would usually sit two or three people quite comfortably in the rear. The Alfa is lacking leg room and shoulder space, the rear cabin feeling again smaller than it otherwise would due to the small window area.
STYLE 6 / 10:
Again, one can only congratulate Alfa for injecting its own unique style into the interior, this does very much feel every inch an Alfa when you sit in it. However, to my eyes at least, the style looks rather dated, particularly that dashboard which has a particularly flimsy feel to it when judged against its competitiors. In the basic 147 at just under £14,000 it is acceptable, at the £18,000 plus level one feels the need for something just a little more sophisticated.
MATERIALS, FIT & FINISH 5 / 10: Aspreys or Ratners?
Again, due to Alfas fitment of the all leather option to this particular car, judging the interior quality of the standard car is made difficult. My wife commented that the leather seats had a rather strange texture to them, more like rubberised plastic than leather.
The plastics are of good quality although the overall build quality is not as tight in here as it is on many of the competitors, even the Convertible Astra with the top down did not creak and rattle the way this particular Alfas interior did.
AUDIO & CLIMATE CONTROL SYSTEMS 8 / 10: Strange grouping?
This particular 147 had the best climate control of any Alfa that I have driven. Being a Lusso model, it had the full house dual control heating system, which was easy to regulate and if anything was over keen to cool the car interior on this hot day.
It also had a fully integrated Bose sound system to compliment the engines high quality sound track.
ON THE ROAD ..
Time to start it up and to offer you a driving assessment.
NOISE, VIBRATION & HARSHNESS 9 / 10 Silk purse or sows ear?
Here is where this 147 starts to claw back some ground.
I have driven many cars now with the same 1.9 litre diesel engine, including the Alfa GT coupe last year. Its potential was shown undoubtedly in that car and, having recently driven two Saab 9-3s and an Astra with this engine, I am able to confirm that the Alfa installation of this power plant is the most successful overall.
In fact here in the 147 I would go as far as to say that this is a great engine!
Alfa have tuned the engine in order for it to behave and importantly SOUND like an Alfa petrol engine. I suspect that this has largely been done by tweaking the exhaust, but however they have done it, the Alfa engineers have succeeded. Even at walking pace you are not aware of this being a diesel powered car.
Initially reacting with an Alfa, with a diesel engine, NEVER! even diehard Alfaholics are finding this an enjoyable engine to use in this car!
It is fast, smooth, totally lacking in vibration and is without doubt the 147s ace card.
PERFORMANCE 9 / 10 Sh*t off a shovel or a constipated tortoise?
Here lays my reason for never appreciating the appeal of an Alfa Romeo. I have long held the opinion that Alfas always sound as though they are going much faster than they are. The fact that the 1.9JTD sounds like a petrol powered Alfa is all to the good, if you actually like the sound of an Alfa engine.
Here, in this car however, its accelerative capabilities are beyond doubt, it is considerably faster than the same car with the evergreen 2.0 petrol Twin Spark engine under the bonnet, in fact it leaves that car for dust! Not only does it accelerate rapidly through the gears but as you would expect with a diesel, it has tremendous pick up in high gears at speed due to the torque available.
Where the 150bhp 1.9 diesel feels lifeless and uninteresting in its installation in the Saab 9-3, here in the smaller, lighter Alfa 147, it feels alive, willing and full of character.
RIDE & HANDLING 6 / 10
Whoops a daisy!
Again age tells here, the 147 does after all ride on a chassis derived from the 1980s Fiat Tipo. The 147 rides on quite taught suspension, but unfortunately the body shell is not really rigid enough to carry it off. Driven at normal speeds on the road, probably your only wish would be for a more compliant ride. Here at Millbrook on the very testing mountain circuit this was the only hatchback that I drove in which you could actually feel the chassis flex, accompanied by the aforementioned interior creaks. Again I have to say that the three door may well have a stiffer shell, but Alfa are marketing this as a sports hatch and it is in this category, handling, that it is found most wanting of all.
I actually liked the steering response and brakes, but unfortunately had less confidence in this cars ability to tackle a tricky road than any other driven on the day, bar the Cadillac BLS (another car sharing the same engine!), but for different reasons. When it comes to cruising at high speed 100mph is permitted here you are left with a nuggety ride quality that over a really lond distance I would find most tiring.
CONCLUSION Would I buy one myself and would we want to drive it to Poland in a day?
With the possible exception of the Alfa 164, there has never been an Alfa produced that I have felt 100% comfortable with. Regrettably, the latest 147 joins a rather long list. Here we have a superb engine, and transmission, crying out for a better, more modern, home.
No, it would not be a car that my wife and I would wish to go to Poland in a single sitting in, it is too compromised due to the noise and hard ride to offer long distance comfort.
My conclusion, regrettably, has to be that at this price there are far better, more able all-rounders available. All are more modern designs and I can only hope that when Alfa launch a successor to this car, that in terms of safety, dynamics and interior space it matches the superb power installation in this car.
FINAL SCORE: 116 / 170 - 67.6%
Putting that score into perspective are the following cars based on identical scoring criteria:
Honda Accord i-CTDi Saloon 80.0%
Honda Jazz 1.4 SE CVT-7 (Automatic) 74.7%
Saab 9-3 TiD Vector (Same engine as Alfa)68.2%
Volvo S60 D5 SE 70.6%
I have owned my Alfa 147 2.0 TS Lusso for around 12 months, and have covered over 25000 miles. Suffice it to say, that while we have had some pretty serious technical problems with the car, in general for the mileage I have done, this has been one of the nicest cars I have ever owned.
Definitely one of this car's strengths, it is not a particularly big car, but powerful, and an excellent streamlined shape, even down to those hidden rear door handles, which make most passengers think it is only a three door! Its styling does appeal to most car drivers, and the car itself won Car of the Year 2001 even before it went on sale within the UK market.
Safety Equipment and Security
This car has a plethora of safety equipment as standard in the range, including six airbags, which thankfully have never been deployed, Anti-Lock brakes, which have occasionally proved their value, traction control, front fogs, and a high third brake light, being among the key features. .
On the downside, the car only achieves three stars from NCAP in terms of passenger protection. This surprises me, considering the general feel and sturdiness of the car, which is by far the best I have experienced for a car in this class (I used to have a fantastic Audi A3 diesel, but I still prefer the superior feel of the Alfa Romeo.
The car is fitted with immobiliser and remote central locking/alarm, both of which have been fully functional during the car's lifetime. The boot can also be opened remotely or from the inside of the vehicle.
Comfort and all the Little Extras
My car had the Optional Comfort Pack which includes black momo leather sports seats with lumbar support (and heated seats are standard in the range, which is ideal for cold early starts). The Comfort pack also included a rear armrest for the passengers in the back and rear headrests - which are great for safety, although they can block the driver view a little, and mine are currently stowed in the boot. The steering column is adjustable, for those that care about such things. Air conditioning is standard across the range, and I have always found this very effective, whether to cool down or warm up! The aircon is dual zone, so driver and front seat passenger can set their own preferred temperature.
Whoever bought my car brand new certainly loved their toys, and as a result I have a better sound system in the car than perhaps in the house. The boot mounted CD player can handle up to ten discs, and if that isn't enough, then there is an 11th option by utilising the CD player intended for the Sat Navigation system. The sound system itself is Bose and if I understand Alfa's pricing correctly, this system would have been almost £900 in extras alone!
Alloy wheels are also fitted as standard, as is cruise control and Power Steering. I must admit I rarely use the cruise control, as despite having owned another vehicle with this feature, I prefer to retain control. That said, for the driver doing a lot of motorway driving, and who does not want to be caught on every speed camera, it is a great worthwhile benefit!
The car is certainly comfortable for one/two passengers, and the fact that I am a high mileage driver and I don't have any complaints about driving over longer distances (in fact I LOVE it!) should mean that most drivers will not have any complaints in this regard.
As with most hatchbacks, there is not a great deal of room in the back for adult passengers, and I certainly couldn't see five people travelling in comfort for any stretch of time. I have had two passengers plus luggage and a lot of business equipment in the car for five hours, and it was quite a squash - the only time I was grateful to get out and stretch my legs properly in the period of ownership.
The boot isn't huge either. Officially is 280 litres, but in practical terms that can hold a couple of suitcases, but won't hold two sets of golf clubs. The rear seat does split and fold down for larger loads, so it's rarely a big issue for me.
If there are problems with the car that need adressing or general warnings, then these are given via hte dashboard display and include such items as bulbs that need replacing down to "Serious Engine Failure, Pull Over" and ice warnings.
On the Road
Officially its 16 valve 2.0 multi point fuel injection engine can manage 0-60 mph in 9.0 seconds, and this car has always been an absolute pleasure to drive. It is perhaps the car that has been the most fun out of all the cars I have ever owned/company owned. The car's official top speed is 129 mph with 150 BHP, which I am sure, has to be the most powerful car I have owned. Yet it feels totally solid even at high speeds such as motorway driving. The car has chunky 205/55 tyres and disc brakes all round. With ABS this car can stop quickly when it has to.
Insurance group 14 means this car will not be suitable for the younger driver or those living in an inner city area. My own insurance premium is around £280, plus a further £40 or so for protected no claims bonus, and that is based on maximum bonus and living in a rural area (for the time being anyway).
I paid £9995 for my car in March 2004. This was purchased from a major car dealer (although not an Alfa dealer) Consulting the autoexpress used car pricing guidelines, a 3 door model a year older now costs around £8200 The new price for the vehicle would have been around the £16.2K mark, almost four years ago, and so this doesn't seem to represent drastic depreciation (Cars never hold their money unfortunately!), at least better than I expected for a make that has suffered from a poor reputation for holding its value. I wouldn't have liked to have owned the car from brand new, but would always much rather someone else owned it for a couple of years and therefore bore the brunt of the depreciation for me!
Filling this car with a tankful of petrol now sets me back slightly over £50, depending on where I fill up (usually the nearest garage once the thing starts beeping at me!!). My fuel economy over combined urban and motorway has been around 29 mpg, which compares reasonably well with the manufacturer quoted statistic of 31.7 mpg. If you really want to depress yourself, you can watch this adjust as you accelerate/decelerate, but it's probably not advisable!
Nothing is to be saved on the fuel tax unfortunately, as the car is in the highest banding for emissions, with greater than 185 g/km, and a road tax of £165 per annum. If you were to own this car as a company car, you can expect to pay £1900 in income tax per year, based on the higher tax bracket and 3000 business miles per year.
Servicing should be carried out at least every 12 months or 12000 miles in line with many popular manufacturer's guidelines.
Reliability and Alfa Service
Oh dear, we have had some fairly serious problems here unfortunately. In fact for the first three months, I think the car spent more time in our appallingly poor Arnold Clark dealer, than it did with me.
The car came with Satellite Navigation which was a factory fitted option, and includes a fantastic centre console which looks after navigation, telephone, music, the whole works. Unfortunately when we bought the car (still under warranty - just) the Satellite Navigation was not working properly, and the car thought it was on the Isle of Arran. While when we got through to Alfa themselves, service was fine, the dealer gave consisently bad service, including telling us the unit was not covered as it was In Car Entertainment and not covered under warranty (incorrect), then replacing the unit twice at considerable expense to Alfa before finally diagnosing the correct fault of a faulty aerial! Finally we needed to call Trading Standards to get them to put the car back in the condition it was in when we took it in for the work - when the telephone system responded to English commands, and not Italian ones
Engine wise the cam belt snapped four days before the end of the 3 year manufacturer's warranty. The car was in for nearly three weeks, and I had to rely on poky 1.0 hire cars for this time, as this was obviously a major repair. The car had done around 44000 miles at the time, and so wasn't due for replacement either. The very nice AA man that towed me back to the dealers advised me he had seen a few cases such as mine very reassuring!
I have also had a broken Windscreen arm which need replacing at over £100 as I recall; parts only.
In fact as far as reliability goes, this has probably been the worst car I have owned, which is a disappointment, as I absolutely adore owning and driving this car.
The manufacturer's warranty covers the first 3years/60000miles of the car's life, after which additional warranty can be expensive. I think the best way around this is to take the AA's Parts and Labour cover, at relatively little cost per year. All new alfas come with AA membership for the warranty period, including a courtesy hire car for two days if the worst should happen.
I guess the last section does make grim reading, and it is a shame, as Alfa have long had a reputation for shoddy service. They obviously have a lot of ground to gain in establishing themselves as having a leading aftersales service.
As for the car itself - it goes like an absolute dream most of the time! I really wouldn't want to swap it out any time soon, although regrettably I have to. In terms of an overall star rating I would have to give 7/10 with three stars being lost for both the technical and service issues which I have experienced. If Alfa could sort out its dealers, they would be on to a winning formula for sure.
(and the title is Alfa's own tagline...)
Luigi was tired of being a waiter, so when he was offered an apprenticeship with Alfa Romeo he gladly took it. What Alfa didnt know before Luigi started building our 2.0 TS Lusso, that Friday afternoon, was that Luigi had Dyslexia. Our car had already been shipped to England.
The front electric windows were stuck, fortunately in the closed position and remained totally unmoveable for the first few months of its life, we had working windows for a few weeks then they packed in again. Fortunately it has aircon or I may have melted to death on one or two of the hot days we have had this year but unfortunately the air con also had a mind of its own along with an occasional strange smell too.
The petrol cap is a menace for my mans big hands, which could probably explain why theres never any petrol left in it, that and the fact that you can literally watch the needle going down as you accelerate. Having been to Italy twice now I can confirm, that Italian men on the whole have lady-sized hands.
The paintwork developed blemishes in some areas and the alloys caught an unexplained virus too, fortunately the garage we bought it from did a really good paint job, which totally surprised me since I would not recommend anyone to buy a car from them. Under Warranty we got 2 new alloy wheels which took 5 trips to the main dealers and several hours waiting around before they were finally both exchanged, and the same performance was had over getting a dead battery replaced. At less than 3 months old the car has also had to have a new computer. The main dealers told me it had been a danger to drive all the while I had been driving it, because it basically had a mind of its own and the brakes could have failed at any time! this also meant that all the extra safety features would not have registered with the car. Which is comforting to know after having paid over £16,000 for it.
Prior to that we had a non-starter, 5 breakdowns, VDC failure, ABS failure, spontaneous and rather annoying electrical faults which included a flashing tripometer... Can anybody explain? I cant be bothered to read the hand book, it would take weeks. I am informed by the main dealer that apparently, if your foot slips off the brake pedal, like it sometimes does when you set off quickly, the car thinks its brakes have failed and the pedal needs re-setting in order to off-set the ABS warning, (bet you didnt know that)
The car has not yet done 4,000 miles, most of this mileage is in trips to the main dealers!
Overall I believe that the car is way too intelligent for its own good and having a brain (computer) in a car is not a good idea after all, going back to the days of a simple gearbox, steering, and pedals sounds good to me after 7 months of this, yet despite all this, I dont blame the car, I blame the garage we bought it from and the not so finger-on-the-pulse main dealers. It is a fabulous car and not just for its looks, its a wicked-beast to drive but not so good for your front passenger. The large wheels, sharp handling and hard suspension mean you could easily break your Grannys neck. (not a suggestion)
Ps. if you do break down and like me you were not informed of the 2 years free AA cover, dont allow a man with big hands to push you out the way, as the body work pushes inwards very easily and then costs a lot to have it popped back out to perfection.