I have had a few issues with the Alfa, but it is getting on a bit now.
The first thing to go was the thermostat; not expensive and pretty easy to sort; cost me about £30 to fix.
Alarm started to randomly go off. I just lock it with the key now instead of the key fob, so it doesn't annoy my neighbours at 3am!
Started to lose coolant. Discovered water hoses had started to disintegrate; again not a major problem, a quick trip to my local car breakers sorted it for about £10.
The heater exchange unit went, and gave me the impression that the head gasket had gone when the header tank was full of oil, but I replaced it with one from eBay and it's been fine since.
Electrics have been fine though!
Despite a few mechanical issues, this car is amazing! Me and my girlfriend had a 2001 VW Golf GTI 1.8t as well as the 147, and as soon as I sat in the Alfa, I never wanted to drive the Golf again!
I love every minute of driving this car. The steering is so good, the brakes are amazing, and the engine, although not as quick as you would hope, sounds wonderful. Even a normally boring trip on a wet Monday morning feels like an event. It's a really special car!
The interior of the car is by far the best in its class. It's got so much kit, and after 11 years everything still works perfectly. Despite the Alfa reputation, it's worn the years better than our Golf.
It really is a special place to sit; it's got a fantastic steering wheel, lovely dials in pods that look as if they have come straight from a Ferrari, and superb black leather sports seats with red stitching and a really good driving position. When you're sat in the driving seat, you don't feel like you're driving a miserable hatchback like a Focus or an Astra; you're driving a full red blooded Italian sports car!
The styling is in my eyes is beautiful; there really is no other small hatchback that comes closes, even today! But styling is subjective; you either like it or you don't.
I am probably biased towards this car, as I love it, but forgetting about that, there are a few irritations,
It's not great on fuel. The Golf GTI I had easily managed 40 MPG; this struggles to do 30 MPG.
Tax is also expensive (£150 for six months), as is insurance.
They burn a fair amount of oil, a common thing with them, so it is so important to regularly check all the levels; I check it weekly.
They are cars that require more care than most. I am fortunate that I do all the work myself, but if you don't have any mechanical knowledge and you have to pay garages to do the work, be very careful as repairs could get a bit pricey! I change the oil and filter every 3k miles with fully synthetic oil and a genuine Alfa oil filter; that's £60 every 3 or 4 months.
But if you love cars and you know a bit about them, why buy a boring Astra; for £700 you could buy a very tidy, leather lined Alfa Romeo, and really, what sounds better?