Lovable ear to ear fun with great looks - even the small diesel
Front upper wishbones - 2 hours and 150 EUR to change.
Radiator/fan corrosion after 5 years - 800 EUR to change.
Front seat starting to wear.
Headlights starting to milk over.
Stone chips in paint on front bumper and bonnet.
This is a 2003 internal face-lift model of the 156 SW (Board computer, steering column controls, ISO-FIX). Two months later the front and outer trim completed the final face-lift to the 156 series.
After a few months of ownership, the car still drives and handles like a dream. Though it sticks like glue in corners, it gives a somewhat rough ride when on 17" summer tires. The original 15" rims sacrifices a small amount of grip in corners, but makes a world of difference to the ride comfort.
For an estate, even the little 1.9 JTD gives great torque and plenty of pull up to highway speeds. Brim to brim, it runs an average of 6.5l/100km, giving some 1000 kms of fun before meeting up with your friendly neighborhood gas station.
Apart from the very comfortable seats, the cabin interior - while having an appealing design - is not quite on par with VW in terms of build quality, and has more "plasticky" feel. In terms of comfort there is reasonable space for 4 well grown adults - but try fitting 3 adults and 2 child seats, and grey hairs will be the outcome. Possible, but not recommended, as even the backseat is shaped to hug two passengers in comfort.
With preventive service and attention to the engine, this is a very reliable diesel. Oil consumption averages.5L/1000km, and strangely seems to be highest at long high speed motorway hauls.
Would I buy Alfa again? Certainly! Would I recommend it? If you know where to fill up oil and you feel it is second nature to check the water temperature as often as you check your speed - by all means yes! The 156 is no more expensive to service that other car... but it quickly will be, if not maintained with care.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 29th July, 2008