1998 Alfa Romeo 156 Lusso 2.5 V6 from UK and Ireland

Summary:

Cuore sportivo

Faults:

Radiator replaced by dealer at time of purchase.

Noisy belt pulley replaced during routine service.

Aircon compressor replaced under warranty.

Usual consumables like tyres, exhaust etc.

General Comments:

Not a new design, but looks as fresh now as the day it was launched.

The 2.5 V6 sounds just amazing, and I often leave the stereo off just to listen to it rev. The extra weight of the V6 means this one is a bit nose heavy when you enter a corner at speed, but you soon get used to it.

This is my 3rd Alfa, and as per my previous GTV & 155, it gives me hassle free, reliable, fun motoring. I defy anyone to drive this car and not break into a smile, it just goes and sounds like no other four door saloon, and it even makes the morning commute (almost) a joy.

To anyone who is worried about Alfa reliability, I say take the plunge - even the Top Gear guys say you aren't a proper petrolhead till you've had an Alfa. Your Fords/Honda/Vauxhalls etc will never look the same again.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th May, 2011

1998 Alfa Romeo 156 T Spark 2.0 from Australia and New Zealand

Summary:

A huge improvement on the old model

Faults:

Water leak around one of the rear doors.

Front brake rotors just under the legal limit, needed replacing.

Diesel-like rattle in the engine on start-up.

General Comments:

I've been able to compare the 156 with my old 155, and the difference is like night and day. Build quality is SO much better on the new one. It actually almost feels like a Golf in terms of solidity.

Inside is a lovely place to be. Beautifully trimmed seats, excellent Blaupunkt stereo, and gorgeous retro twin-binnacle gauges. Mine has the optional 'deluxe' pack which adds a mahogany Momo steering wheel and shift knob. However, the clearly fake woodgrain trim around the centre console is pretty horrible!

Performance is just fine. My only complaint would be a lack of low-down torque, and the high gearing doesn't help. But once the cam variator (similar to VTEC) kicks in at 3000rpm, off she goes, pulling smoothly right up to the redline.

Handling is as you'd expect from an Alfa. Pin sharp steering, which communicates exactly what the front tyres are up to. You get the usual front-wheel-drive understeer, but it's always manageable with a little throttle feathering. Mine comes on Dunlop Le Mans, which are OK, but just a wee bit slippery in the wet. I'm looking forward to wearing them out so I can replace them with a set of Bridgestone Potenzas.

The design is still wonderfully imaginative and well proportioned, and I'm predicting it will age pretty well over the years. It's fun to watch friends searching for the rear door handles. One even opened the front door and tried to tilt the seat forward so she could get in the back! You can't put a price on that kind of entertainment.

My old 155 has been, to put it bluntly, a disaster in terms of reliability. It's poorly built, using poor materials, costs a fortune to fix, and never fails to have something wrong with it. The 156 on the other hand, is a revelation. So far at least! But judging by the build quality, I can believe this car will be far less troublesome.

The 156 is much more civilised than the old Alfas, and doesn't have that oily mechanical feel that makes them so endearing, but it is a much more enjoyable prospect for daily driving. The solution - I've kept the old 155 V6 for weekends, and the 156 is my weekday car. I've definitely got the Alfa bug now. And it's incurable, so be careful!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th August, 2008

12th Nov 2008, 20:24

Hello.

I have a 2001 156 and had water leak issues at rear doors as well - fixed now. We will see next winter... :)

Perth - Australia.