The 2.4 diesel is the better Alfa!
I've had the Alfa 156 Sportwagon from my dealer to substitute for my 146 1.8 T-Spark - some idiot crashed right into it, and the repair will take at least a week.
The 2.4 JTD diesel engine has been a revelation to me: Fast, responsive, powerful right away from the bottom of the rev band. Quite fuel-efficient too, only 6.5 litres/100 km. The only drawback: The diesels do not not have half as nice a sound as their petrol-driven counterparts. Top speed of nearly 215 km/h is acceptable (remember: there is no speed limit on German motorways! :-) but other manufacturers' diesels do much better.
The road handling is typical for Alfa: bumpy and rough when driving slowly, acceptable on motorways and irresistible on country roads with bends and sweeps.
Build quality is still light years away from Mercedes' or Audi's: left passenger rear door rattles, rear suspension produces noises, humming noise from the dashboard, too.
Despite the little flaws I believe that my next car will be an Alfa 156 Sportwagon with a 2.4 litre diesel engine.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 13th August, 2002