2001 Alfa Romeo 156 SW 1.9 JTD
The sexiest estate ever made
The CD player had a nasty habit of cutting off, usually after being used for an hour.
The fuel cap retainer strap continually drops off.
Theres a bit of wear on the drivers fabric seat.
The rear light covers on the tailgate tend to fall off at the slightest touch.
The heater phased hot and cold for 500 km after the battery had been disconnected for a week.
Its the best car I've ever owned.
I bought the car secondhand. It had done 22,000 kilometers and had its first service but looked as good as the day it was originally delivered. One year on and the body is still perfect. The engine for that matter is surprisingly clean too, helped to a large degree by a sump guard that almost closes off the whole under part of the motor from the road. I suppose it was partly considered to make the car more streamlined, the whole under part of the car is very clean.
The interior has a dark green fabric which is holding up quite well against my one year old daughter. The interior plastic on this 2001 model is a bit cheap to look at, but when you consider the price of the car compared to the competition, you can quite understand.
The drivers position is fantastic, I absolutely love it. The dash comprises of two tubes, one with the speedometer, the other showing the rev counter. All other information is put onto the center console or only illuminated when needed.
The model didn't come with a trip computer, the only perk is an external temperature gage that you can switch on to see. quite frankly I prefer the minimalism to something that is more likely to go faulty. That goes for the smooth manual gearbox too, no gadgets to spoil the affair. It reminds me of my 1986 Golf GTI, all the thrills without the spills.
The engine and heater are controlled by a computer and I presume that was the cause of problems I had after disconnecting the battery making the heater play up.
I installed my own radio mp3 player after the sad affair with the installed unit and have had no complaints since.
Its not as plush, well built or ergonomically designed in the interior as a German car, but the style makes up for a lot. That includes having ridiculously small spaces such as the glove compartment, a gap in front of the gear stick that can only be used for change, a space at the side of the handbrake that can be used for storing sunglasses, but without their case, and the door panel pockets which shouldn't be used if you don't want to hear vibrations from the speakers when turned on.
The boot isn't as big as it looks either. The sweeping roof line and general curves of the car mean there isn't much more room than the saloon. The Spare wheel is stored internally too, taking up even more space. That said, with a bit of creativity you can get by. The positive thing is that the back seats can fold down allowing the stuffing in the boxes of self assembly shelves a relatively painless experience.
We tend to use the car for long distances, up to 400 km a time, to which I commend the way the seats are made, no back pains to date.
Its lovely to drive, better with just one, but still agile with everybody, including the mother in-law. Road holding is spot on and it does what you want it to do. It has a bit of what I can only say is spirit that sets it apart from other cars. Small roads are its true home ground and if theres ever an excuse to leave the motorway, I don't hesitate.
The engine is economical and to date hasn't dropped a drop of oil in the 15,000 km that I've done in the past twelve months.
The only snag to owning this model is that spare parts are a little bit harder to come across. The rear door windows are different to the standard saloon and can be a problem finding if you need a replacement.
Having a more unique car is part of the joy of owning the Sport wagon and so one shouldn't really expect ford focus stock.
I still stand back and admire it after a weekend of driving hard. It really is a rather special car.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 9th October, 2003
2nd Nov 2003, 14:37
An honest and positive review - If you enjoy something you can forgive minor failings. If the car is only 'so so' then even the most trivial shortcoming will grate.
I think that this review is an example to others of a balanced appraisal of the vehicle - I know because I did the same, albeit with a few more words...However, I still have the luxury of owning the GTI as well!
7th Jan 2004, 07:57
Indeed a good review! My I add my 156 2.0 JTS will keep up with and pass VW Golf GTI's with ease (it's a pleasure to pass the little hot hatches in my Alfa saloon) and indeed my friends 2.8 4-motion Golf cannot out accelerate my Alfa either!