2002 Alfa Romeo 156 2.0 JTS Veloce 2.0 JTS petrol from UK and Ireland
The 156 is a tremendous driving experience, blending performance with comfort and adequate utility
Only one seri0us problem plus some componentry problems - unrelating to the basic build - as follows:-
Suspension knock developed at 10,000 miles, owing to a joint failure. Suspension rebuilt by dealer; no repeat of problem yet.
False reading from nox sensor giving "Motor Control Unit Failure" warning. Dealer corrected fault at second attempt by repositioning wiring.
Trip computer gave faulty mileage readings (all factored down by 0.6). New sensor fitted by dealer solved problem; unfortunately this resets the total recorded mileage to zero.
Airbag warning light lit up. Loose connection to do with seat belt tensioner was the culprit here, apparently.
Radio very occasionally self mutes. (i.e. sound just goes off). Irritating and won't do it for the dealer of course! Switch off / switch on seems to reset it OK.
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.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 9th September, 2004
10th Sep 2004, 01:24
On the transition between straight line and turning:
I own a 147 and being quite peaky with respect to handling I have already performed the trial and error test with pressures. To me, there seems to be a telling difference on the initial turn-in, when the front tyres are (just) over-inflated: the front end is tight, steering response is crisp and turn in is as vivid as it should be. On the other hand, under-inflated tyres lead to sluggish turn in, tyre squeal, and to an impression of passivity when I am really pushing it (= small corrections with the steering wheel do not lead to equally obvious results). As always, it is difficult to get these things on the paper (or rather on the PC), but all things considered, I think the 147 is far more affected from wrong pressures when compared with other cars (with simpler front suspension set up).
8th Aug 2008, 02:56
Oil consumption is fixed by using 10w60 oil. Selenia do it in a racing oil however Valvoline is just as good and half the price. My oil consumption has virtually stopped.
19th Mar 2009, 07:11
I have this model.. love it, but totally agree with your comments especially in regard to the JTS engine. Some days it makes the car feel so light, almost as if you are in a drag car with the acceleration intense, other days it feels quite heavy.. Worth it for the good days however. Wish this could be fixed arrghh!