What's good with the 156.
Contrary to the reputation for poor reliability that has dogged Alfa Romeos in recent years, this one has been utterly reliable and the few problems that have arisen relate mainly to components and not the basic build of the car. Should also mention that the dealer who looks after it is top class.
It is still a very good looking car, inside as well as out. Just the right size (overall) for my use.
Performance is absolutely splendid, especially in the handling department.
Seating is very comfortable and supports the occupants well - in the front at least. On a long journey we'll usually arrive feeling fresh.
Noise level is impressively low, especially in cruising attitude, with the power unit sounding smooth and under-stressed.
What's Less Good?
The JTS engine (this is an early version which reportedly had manufacturing tolerance problems) is quite variable in performance. On a good day it is very very good - crisp, responsive and wanting to go somewhere (if asked to). But on a bad day it feels - comparatively - sluggish and unresponsive.
Brakes are rather spongy and very occasionally require extra effort to stop - this might be a pad glazing problem?
Suspension is a compromise between ride and handling, resulting in some uncomfortable jolting on poor roads and occasional grounding out over undulations (the Veloce version has shorter springs).
But the fantastic handling and smooth motorway cruising ride more than compensate!
Oil consumption:- At approximately 1,000 miles per litre and the recommended Selenia oil costing more than £5 a litre this is a more than a bit niggling. However, one must never skimp on lubricant and so have to live with the bind of lifting the bonnet once a week.!
Drivers seat adjustment. When the seat is right forward there is no human being that can get in let alone drive a 156. When its right back I can only just find a position that's comfortable - and I'm not especially tall at 6'-0". OK moving the whole lot back 3" will limit rear passenger legroom, but this is only an occasional 4/5 seater.
Stowage. Some updating to the cabin is definitely needed. The car has a CD player as standard, but where do the CD cases go? Cup holders and somewhere to plant a mobile phone safely would be nice.
Tyres: choice of tyre is fairly critical on the 156. Currently I'm using asymetric Michelins which, whilst providing phenomenal grip both wet and dry, seem a bit "twitchy" during transition from straight-line to turning. Might need some trial-and-error with pressures.