2002 Alfa Romeo 156 Standard Spec 1.8 Twin Spark (petrol) from UK and Ireland


Beautiful but very flawed


Front wishbones need replacing every couple of years, otherwise they creak. The lifespan of the front suspension on these cars is notoriously short! The rear suspension also developed problems, and all four tyres wore unevenly (the very inner edges were bald whilst the rest of the tyres had 4-5 mm of tread left!!!).

The gearbox developed a fault (difficulty engaging gears). Two oil leaks, MULTIPLE front bulb failures - they are difficult to replace. The front catalytic convertor failed and need replacing. Variator rattle! Rust on the roof!

General Comments:

Beautiful car, only spoiled by the niggly problems that detracted from such an amazing design :(

The suspension wasn't designed for Britain's terrible roads, where there are numerous potholes and other defects. Driving this car along bumpy country roads was torture... CRASH... BANG, CREAK, KNOCK :-|. However, if you found a smooth road it was a joy to behold, with quick-rack steering :)

The air conditioning KILLED the power of the Twin Spark engine. I frequently switched the aircon off to overtake other cars :-| The blower fan is shockingly weak, but there wasn't a fault in the system - this is a well-known 156 "feature". The 156 isn't the nicest place to be in hot weather - I could barely feel the air con (I had it serviced by a top Alfa independent garage - no improvement!)

I spent thousands of pounds on this car, and there was always another fault awaiting money!

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

Review Date: 15th May, 2017

22nd Sep 2022, 14:06

They are great looking cars, shame about the sub standard quality. Interesting comment about the power loss with air-con - I had a car many years ago that did this (a 1996 Seat Toledo); with the air-con on it felt like you lost about 25 horse power! More modern cars seem to have overcome this problem, I have never driven anything since post year 2000 where the air-con being switched on makes any difference in power.

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.