2002 Alfa Romeo 156 Manual 1.8 Twin Spark from UK and Ireland


It will steal your wallet, and anything else you own of value


The hydraulic clutch failed, effectively writing off the car.

General Comments:

This was my first 'proper' car - as I doubt you can class a reliant death trap as a car. In my head I needed something cheap to run and something that wasn't going to cripple me on insurance, so I was looking at a 1.3 Micra.

Then, I saw an Alfa 156 for £575, and immediately I knew I would end up buying it. The next day I armed myself with insurance and picked her up.

The appearance of the car, in my opinion, is so much better than anything made by the Germans even now. However there seems to be much debate about this, so I'll move on.

The interior's ergonomics are spot on; everything that you need to drive the car is where you can see it, and the steering wheel fits almost perfectly into your hands.

The factory fitted sound system is superb, and the seats are fantastic, which makes the 156 brilliant at eating up the motorway miles. My only criticism would be that the pedals are slightly too small, so it can sometimes feel a touch clumsy in the foot well.

When it comes to driving, the engine feels very lacklustre until it hits the power band at 3000 RPM, where you see the speedometer start to climb at a quite satisfying pace, but by this time the fuel gauge seems to move at the same rate, with spirited driving retrieving less than 20 MPG.

Alfa have done a brilliant job with the handling though, on back roads the car feels planted, giving confidence, and then just a hint of understeer to tell you she's on the limit.

Things get tricky, however, in a multi storey, where problems such as the large turning circle, combined with the long nose and less than average visibility, rear their ugly heads.

I owned this car for only 3 weeks due to the hydraulics failing, and I was told that I would be looking at nearly a grand to fix this, so reluctantly, she was sold to a scrapyard, and I am currently looking for another car. However with me leaving the Army at the end of this month, and turning 18 next month, I'm after a Micra. Again.

So, anyone want to sell me your Alfa?

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

Review Date: 22nd May, 2012

23rd May 2012, 07:49

Sorry to hear that. Alfas are definitely cars that you need to keep your finger on in terms of fluids and repairs and so forth. It sounds like the previous owner skimped, and you got stuck with the bill. Just remember that you should be thinking BMW type prices if things go wrong.

Having said that, I love my Alfa more the longer I have it, and you will find your driving compensates for the relatively weak sub-3000 RPM performance as time goes by.

2002 Alfa Romeo 156 SW 1.9 JTD turbo diesel from Bulgaria


Powerful, sleek design, but not for bumpy roads


Road pot holes cause the front wheel suspension to wear quickly. Wheels now squeak and whine on the slightest road bump or paved roads.

The aircon fuses burned out, causing the cooling fan to stop cooling the engine altogether. A replacement fixed that.

Front hood is very low, thus small road stones beat the hood, causing flicks and chips of paint to fall off, with rust developing on the spots. So much for galvanised and zinc-ed metal make.

On-board computer's display is worn out and fading in half, making it difficult to read it even on high contrast. 8 years of altogether use only!

General Comments:

The car has a compact design, even though the Sportwagon version. Side windows are smaller, giving a sporty look.

Car behaves VERY well on highways, overtaking is a pleasure. When I press the gas pedal to the bottom, the car accelerates smoothly, overtaking is sure.

High speeds of upto 160 km/h on highway turns are stable, the car feels stable on the road even with sharp wheel turn on overtaking.

At slower speeds, the ride feels bumpy, the car seem to rattle, and the whole interior vibrates. At higher speeds this cannot be felt.

The seats are comfortable for long cruise rides - 6 hours driving and no pain in the back is a great deal for a family Sportwagon with long trips.

The air conditioning is slow to cool the interior. The stereo doesn't play through the speaker of the door that is opened.

No cruise control, so a bit frustrating, but I hear that is an option, and cables are already in place, just the stick needs to be installed and some pedal sensors? Anyways.

The car is stylish, the drive is pleasure on motorways.

However low-quality roads with plenty of pot-holes can wear the suspension too quick, and replacements can be costly.

I own this second hand car made in 2002, now still good in 2010. Prone to rust though, even though I expected no such flaw :(

Bonnet space is not much even for a sportwagon, but that is because of the sporty looks.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th August, 2010

31st Aug 2010, 09:45

I agree that potholes are the bane of the 156. Nasty grooved road surfaces make it tramline too. On the other hand, I've taken my TS up to 180 on a good road, and it's as smooth as silk.

Sorry to hear about your rust problems; I got my 156 from an auction for junked cars, and fixed it. The original bonnet was scrapped and stood in the open in rainy weather for a couple of months without a spot of rust developing. THAT bonnet was galvanised properly, at least.

Your squeaky sounds are from the lower control arms. There's a sort of a round metal-cased rubber shock absorber that has torn there when you went over a big hump or something. A good shot of WD40 is a temporary solution, but it will have to be replaced eventually. Ask me, I know... :\