1997 Alfa Romeo 155 Super 2.0 litre 16v
Clock doesn't work.
Misses sometimes when it's cold.
Heater works erratically - oh no, I was telling my mate the other day how good it is...
It's a '97, so dates back into the last century, but oh boy what a car. Very sharp handling, and it feels really tight still. That quick rack means you can feed it through obstacles and corners with a quick flick of the wrist, meaning it is just terribly responsive, having an almost telepathic-like feel in its ease of use.
Day to day, the car is quite happy pottering about at low revs. It's got nothing below 2000 RPM, but I tend to short shift to save gas. However, get some clear road ahead of you, and you cannot resist the temptation to nail it, whereupon it's impossible not to smile as the speed gathers, and the engine spins most happily to the redline. 7000 may as well be 4000 in the ease with which it spins. We all know the engine is the heart of any Alfa, and this 16v gem is no exception. It emits a nice rorty bark, and progresses onto a turbine falsetto wail that shows it means business. Power delivery is almost motorcycle-like in that the more it revs, the more it gives.
I don't know. I've heard that all Alfas are liabilities, which is why I opted for the 155 over a 156; that, and its very distinct looks and large useful boot, and the fact that these can be had for peanuts. The driving position is a bit funny - MPV/Tipo like, though not too bad, and far better than that of my 33, which I sold on for very similar monies to the 155.
So. Overall I am pleased with this car. It's more hot hatch/go cart than staid 4 door sedan, and most importantly, it embodies all the elements of a true Alfa. No wait a minute - that's wrong. It seems quite reliable...
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 21st June, 2012
Great writeup from the OP, for a great Alfa :)
Granted, it is not a true Alfa with a lot of input into this model from the father in the group (Fiat), but compared with the competition of its day, it was way ahead in driver fulfillment, handling and every day usability.
I know, because I own two currently :) And four in total.
Despite the general consensus that Alfa produce unreliable cars, this is not true, certainly no more so than other well established European brands with similar engine types like BMW, Audi or Mercedes in some instances.
What people often neglect to think about, is that at the time the 1.8 and 2 litre 16 engines were highly tuned 4 cylinder models, nearing the peak of tuning possible for the road. As such, the service intervals and service items are more frequent, and more components are involved than your usual Ford bus that can take years of abuse and neglect, but as a result provide a bus like ride and performance. It's all relative, which is the point I'm trying to make here.
I've had my 2 litre for over seven years, and have done a lot of happy miles in it, with no mechanical issues whatsoever, whilst using the engine to within an inch of its life as soon as safe to do so. The mechanics of all of the engines in the range are strong as long as the service intervals are maintained, with exception of the 12V Busso V6 (from the Alfa Romeo 75), which is happy to take years of abuse and neglect, yet provide you with a grin factor on tap that a chimp would be proud of! Despite loving the 4 cylinder scream, I have to admit that if you do the math on the V6 engine, it works out as the cheapest and longest smiles per mile engine I've ever.
Anyway, when the cars do develop faults, ironically it's always due to "German" sensors failing, such as the Bosch airflow meter, cam sensor, knock sensor, etc. all of which are... errrm German, also used in the same German cars of the era and some beyond.
OK, interior fit and finish doesn't trouble the Germans, but the driving experience is such that you don't care if you enjoy driving.
In terms of longevity, the 155 was the first body from Alfa Romeo to be galvanised, therefore one of the first to be rust free going on 15 years if cleaned a few times a year.
Surprisingly for Alfa, it was also one of the first to boast reliable electrics, still working well after 15 years.
Overall, easy and sporty fun cars to potter about around town, but great drivers cars with sharp characteristics, which are all too happy to be driven aggressively in pursuit of exploring the grip on offer from your chosen tyres; good luck getting that from a Ford, Vauxhall, or Renault from the time... and they can still quite comfortably keep up with modern traffic with a relaxed drive behind the wheel.