1998 Alfa Romeo 156 Sport 3 2.5 V6 24v petrol from UK and Ireland
A fast, comfortable, stylish, but out of the ordinary choice
Oil cooler cracked leaking oil into the coolant, but I bought it like that knowing there was a fault.
MAF sensor packed up; doubly annoying because it only did about 500 miles (new, genuine Bosch one!) and I only replaced it because I wasn't 100% happy with the old one. Original now refitted and still going strong.
Offside rear wheel bearing got noisy; easy replacement.
Plastic bushes on gear change linkage seized, making the change very notchy. Again, easy replacement.
In red with black leather and the Sport 3 body kit, it really looks the part. Lacquer is peeling only on the boot lid, and will get that resprayed soon.
As with many Italian cars, the driving position feels a bit odd, but it's still a comfortable place to be for a few hours before I need a break.
It can be surprisingly economical for what it is; a good run where you can keep it mostly in 6th gear at sensible motorway speeds, and you can get well into the low 30s MPG. But drive it round country lanes with a lot of gearbox use, and economy goes out the window!
The potential top speed is frankly way more than you are likely to be able to use in the UK, but it's nice to feel that it's cruising with so much in reserve. The acceleration is very good indeed, and the engine is so flexible that unless you're really trying, you don't need to be constantly changing gear. But I find that I do anyway just to hear the wonderful engine note!
Overall these cars don't cost much to buy, and if you get a good one, they can be as reliable as anything else of similar age and performance. But get a bad one and you could be reduced to a tearful wreck quite quickly! I am a mechanic and I own my own garage, so maybe I have an advantage over most people, but I would recommend finding a local workshop who love Alfa's, and leaving the main dealers alone as much as possible, as they seem to be a very mixed bunch.
I've owned more cars than I can easily count, but I honestly think that for the driving experience, this one is the best.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 23rd August, 2014