2001 Alfa Romeo 156 Veloce Sportwagon 2.5 V6 24v petrol from UK and Ireland

Summary:

Never again!

Faults:

Glovebox started popping open over bumps

CV joint failed

Coil pack burned out

Clutch failed (no warning)

Gearbox oil leak

Noisy tappets

Intermittent rev counter failure

Air conditioning compressor failed

Gear linkage went out of adjustment

Uneven front tyre wear.

General Comments:

I could go on and on about the tale of woe this car inflicted on me, but the list above should give you an idea. This all happened within 11 months and 13,000 miles. The car had none of these faults when I first got it.

The 2.5 V6 is one of the best sounding engines ever built and has a fantastic top end rush. Over 5,000 RPM it just howls, the car squats and hot hatches go backwards, quickly. The car also handles neatly, looks fantastic and has a definite sense of occasion that rivals such as the 3-series and Mondeo just can't get near.

Trouble is, and being brutally honest, my 156 turned out to be a cheaply built, fragile pile of junk. It always seemed to need something doing to it. I was fooled by the surprisingly good quality interior which is actually very nicely finished. Sadly though, the engine, trim, electrics and ancillaries are all as fragile and temperamental as you might think in even your most cynical moments.

Dealers are shocking too. They never carry the right spares in stock, close down/move at random and charge the earth. Sadly, you still have to buy something boring like a 3 series if you need your car to actually get you where you want to go. Alfa Romeo, despite claims to the contrary, still seem incapable of making cars that work, and that stay in one piece. In this day and age, that is completely inexcusable.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 15th March, 2004

18th Mar 2004, 06:21

Sorry to hear about your 156-related woes. In my view, Alfa have produced a good quality, reliable car in the 156, but perhaps only in batches! My 3 year old example has been impeccably behaved since new and has now covered 60,000 miles without the need to visit the (admittedly dodgy) dealers for anything other than routine servicing.

2001 Alfa Romeo 156 Veloce 1.8 Twin Spark from UK and Ireland

Summary:

Exceptional looking disaster

Faults:

Immobilizer problems after 20,000miles. New receiver is required to allow the immobiliser to talk to the engine management system.

Three replacement keys required.

Rattles within cabin begin.

Cam belt snapped at 57,000 miles. Covered by warranty, but took several weeks for the return of the car.

Major engine problem at 65,000 miles. Engine lost all of it's oil within 100 miles - deemed driver responsibility - checking the oil every 1000 miles or so not frequent enough! Small noise became a major rattle - finally engine needed replacing for reconditioned unit.

At the same time all brake disc's and two calipers are also replaced due to corrosion - perhaps because it has spent so much of it's life sitting at the dealers being repaired.

General Comments:

Beautifully different, but do not buy. Luckily mine is a company vehicle.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 24th February, 2004

11th Sep 2004, 05:13

It amazes me how anyone can find this car attractive. It's the most hideous looking piece trash on planet earth.

2001 Alfa Romeo 156 Twin Spark 2.0 from UK and Ireland

Summary:

Lovely to drive... but to own?

Faults:

Fuse box cover fell off.

Gearbox crunches sometimes when going into reverse and when making the occasional high revs (post overtake) gear change from 2nd to 5th.

Paint looks of poor quality, all kinds of little scratches already.

Door handle button starting to stick occasionally when pressed in.

General Comments:

You always hope that when you get a new car, yours will display all the qualities and none of the faults reported by other owners, and to some extent this has been true with my 156. Some of the cliches remain however.

Reliability has been fine really. I drive it hard at times and it has remained faithful. The gearbox is a slight worry, fifth gear is slightly whiney at 75-80mph and the crunching noises mentioned above do not bode well. Could just be me worrying.

It is a very pretty car and I still throw a few glances back at it after parking up. Its undeniably cool.

The engine is fabulous. Quiet and refined for a 4 cylinder and quite muscular at about 4000 revs. Nice sporty sound at 6000 revs. Having a turbo conversion from Autodelta was very tempting. The lack of low down torque can make getting onto roundabouts quickly from rest tricky. The car seems to 'bog down' at low to medium revs and feels heavy (which it isn't) but wheel spins uselessly at higher revs.

Handling is great, but my front tyres are wearing quickly and it understeers easily in the wet currently, (when they were newer the car had more grip than I had bravery). On a B-road it can make very swift and entertaining progress although the brakes do not inspire enough confidence for me. Some people think the ride is harsh, but I think its about right. It is supposed to be sports saloon after all. Steering is excellent and in my opinion is more communicative in normal driving than my wife's MR2 roadster. Turning circle is disappointing though.

Its comfy on long journeys, but I wish I had got the higher spec seats. Climate control is standard, but a bit weak when you want to 'fridge up' on a hot day. The dials light up beautifully at night though.

Luggage space is fine for me although passengers in the back haven't got too much legroom.

I get 30mpg with ease and could get more if I tried. Recent service was disappointingly expensive although the quality was good. Insurance costs were acceptable.

The problem for me though is quality. My car is low mileage at the moment, but I just don't feel I want to own it for much longer. Depreciation is steep. A respray/ bodywork warranty claim looks on the cards sometime soon in its life. Things are starting to rattle. I worry about the bills.

I like owning an Alfa, but I'm not passionate about it like the 'alfisti'. It doesn't quite have the character I thought it would. The kind of character which makes you forgive the little reliability problems. Therefore after 9 months of ownership I am likely to cut my losses and buy a big Audi or Volvo. They are depreciating too, but I'd rather own a tidy one of those with 100k on the clock than my 156 with 60k.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 14th January, 2004

10th Nov 2004, 07:09

Hmmm...I said I was going to sell it, but 36,000 miles up and I still haven't. Came close to buying an Impreza, but this didn't happen. It still hasn't really gone wrong and it is such a lovely motor. Comfy and quiet when cruising, rorty and snarly when pushing on.

Still have some worries. One concern is the 36k service. I got a quote from the Alfa dealer, £300 odd -fine, took the car in. But then got a call from them saying the timing belt was worn and needed replacing £250! I have since found out that this is virtually routine and seemingly part of an attempt to combat engine failures at 50-60k miles, (normally changed at 72k). Apparently they take the timing belt off to visually check it and of course you never put an old belt back on! A hidden cost and one that sees my overdraft limit fast approaching.