Gearbox: Selespeed gearbox is jerky, jumps into neutral whilst on the move, sometimes reverse gear cannot be engaged, actuator replaced many times, entire gearbox replaced once.
Engine: Engine can be difficult to start sometimes.
Interior: Creaky and rattly interior trim. Upholstery's leather stitching became undone. Peeling carbon fibre trim. Car was delivered with damaged interior door trim. Holding clips missing from some of the interior trim parts. Torn soundproofing. Faulty Selespeed gear in-dash indicator. Petrol gage malfunctions occasionally. Ashtray light bulb blew within a few months.
Exterior/body: Front right door and rear right door clash with each other at the top edges causing paint chipping. Uneven panel gaps. Rubber trim on the driver's door window sill became warped. Poor body-shell rigidity - the rear parcel shelf area creaks loudly during cornering. Car was delivered with cracked fog-light lens.
Others: Wiper blades are noisy and cannot last longer than 2 months. Ineffective air-con.
This car has a smooth and powerful engine. Engine sounds very nice and sporty. Fairly economical too.
Handling and road-holding are very good -stable cruiser on highways and excellent on twisty back roads. Steering is precise too. Ride is a bit firm, but still quite acceptable overall.
However, the seats can induce backaches if driven for a long period at a stretch.
Air-con is barely adequate in the tropics.
Selespeed gearbox, when it works, has useful blipping feature when downshifting which allows beautifully executed downshifts. However, the Selespeed gearbox makes progress too jerky for urban crawls/traffic jams.
Stylish exterior and interior design. Still one of the best looking cars on the road today, in my opinion.
However, the car suffers from poor overall assembly quality and/or reliability.
Selespeed gearbox is especially problematic - Alfa Romeo should seriously consider a recall.
I have had to visit the local dealer's workshop countless times to rectify all kinds of problems. This can be very irritating besides wasting a lot of time. Worse still, quite often problems are not effectively rectified, if at all, the first time around. This necessitates annoying follow-up visits to the workshop to fix the same old problems.
After-sales service not a strong point. Long waiting period for parts.
As a driver's car, the 156 Selespeed is superb. But it is a frustrating car to own and to maintain. All that talk about the Alfa 156 having "character" is a poor excuse for dodgy quality.
6th Oct 2002, 14:00
Got to disagree,
Ran two as company cars for two years with only two problems. First was an Manual 2.0 Twin Spark? with sports pack two including Cloth RECARO seats which performed FAULTLESSLY and was VERY comfortable over long distances.
Second was Selespeed 2.0 which had two major problems in two years. A) the windscreen developed a creeping split? and B) a faulty Selespeed unit which started playing up ONLY after having been driven through North Yorkshire in the middle of the floods season. Although the car was an import?? both problems were speedily rectified under warranty by Mangoletsi Of Knutsford who I highly recommend as an Alfa Dealer!.
(and NO I have NO commercial interest/ axe to grind with them!).
Alfa's GREATEST asset by far is the ICE system that they refer to as "the Engine". If you take this car on open country roads away from the attention of Plod, make sure first that your company expense's allow for dry cleaning bills in the trouser dept,... you'll need it,...:)
BMW???.. for Boring Mindless W*****rs and submissives in the atmosphere of a computer chatroom. Alfa 156's are a clandestine visit to a passionate latin lover in the heat of a Tuscan summer,...
I have now 6 points on the license to bear this out,... but the last time I had this much fun in a car??... I nearly became a Dad,...