2003 Alfa Romeo 156 GTA 3.2 V6 24v from UK and Ireland


A powerful, fine handling car that just oozes desirability


A sticking drivers side door handle was replaced at around 2,000 miles under warranty.

A slightly worn steering rack was replaced at 10,000 miles under warranty.

A rear suspension track rod was also replaced at 10,000 miles under warranty.

General Comments:

The steering rack replacement was a bit of a surprise both to me and the dealer - I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has suffered this problem.

At the same time it was discovered one of the rear track rods needed replacing after I had heard a fain knocking noise from the rear over rough ground.

The 3.2 V6 engine in this car not only looks sweet, but feels and sounds very sweet too.

The problem Alfa had to address is coming up with a platform to match the engine's performance; putting 250BHP and shed-loads of torque through the front wheels is always going to need careful consideration.

The Alfa engineers have actually done a mighty fine job. Given a dry road surface, the car always gives you the impression that all the power you need is available to use quite safely. Grip and stability are there in abundance when you need it in the twisty bits.

Of course, with all this performance there are always downsides and this car is no exception.

The fuel economy for a very enthusiastic driver is quite poor - expect around 15-18mpg if you like to constantly cane the car, but typical semi-urban driving can return a slightly more palatable 27-29mpg, which pleasantly seems to apply whether you drive sedately or with a fair bit of brio. Longer motorway cruising can return around 33-35mpg.

The other major downside for a car of this nature is the ride comfort at slower speeds (20-40mph) which can be harsh on our disgracefully bad UK B-roads. While the ride is nowhere near bone-jarring, you do feel every imperfection in the road through the steering wheel. Of course, that can sometimes be very useful if you're driving more enthusiastically and need to adjust your driving to the road surface quality.

The interior of the car is superb, attracting many comments from passengers, and I'm yet to come across anyone who doesn't like the car's looks, stunning yet understated as they are. The rarity factor is also quite nice.

To summarize, this is an awesome car for the enthusiastic driver who has just too much style to be a loony Imprezza driver, and too much individuality to follow the flock and buy a BMW 330. Good 'though both those cars undoubtedly are, they're just not Alfas.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th December, 2004

2nd Jul 2007, 15:08

Perhaps people buy impreza's instead of 156's is because they want AWD handling and capability, good value for money and they don't want it to fall apart too quickly and of course the charactar of that great flat 4 engine. Just a thought.

3rd Jul 2007, 11:10

People buy an Impreza or 330 because Alfas can only go in straight lines; they simply cannot put their power down round corners. Also, Alfas lose value at an unbelievable rate. After the first two years they are worth way less than half of what they were new, but with the BMW you would be unlucky if it had lost a fifth of its value. That's why nobody goes for the Alfa.

2003 Alfa Romeo 156 JTS Sportwagon 2.0 petrol from UK and Ireland


Fully loaded with 'feel good factor'


Within a week or so of owning the car, the ABS warning light came on. This turned out to be a poor connection to the yaw sensor. Apparently, the offending connector is buried deep behind the dashboard and can be strained when you adjust the position of the steering wheel.

Ever since the above was fixed, the trip computer has only been able to work out one fuel consumption - that is 141.5mpg. Whilst that is very impressive, unfortunately it's nowhere near the truth. The dealer has tried quite a few times to fix this, but hasn't managed yet.

Radio reception was disappointingly rubbish - especially and specifically BBC R4 FM. This has been finally brought up to an OK standard by fitting an amplifier in the C pillar, but maybe they have different specifications of amplifiers because it took a couple of goes. During which, the dealer rather hamfistedly broke the tailgate trim panel, which took a couple of weeks to get replaced.

General Comments:

I bought this new, but pre-registered, at what still seems a brilliant bargain price. Having had 4 years of pleasurable, but slightly dull ownership of my Golf Mk4 GTi petrol turbo, I decided it was time to risk something Italian.

Basically, I'm delighted with it, and very much hope to be able to contribute to lifting it off the bottom of all the normal owner survey charts.

Every time, it's a pleasure to look at, to drive, to clean and to be seen in. It's just the right size for what I want, lovely natural leather interior and everybody perceives it as a far more upmarket vehicle than it actually is.

The ride quality, steering and handling are great, but you do need to proceed with a bit of caution on bumpy roads since it's all to easy to ground the engine under-tray.

The engine is gorgeous and enjoys revving. I can't make my mind up about performance - it often doesn't feel to be picking up speed as much as I'd like, but the end result in overtaking etc is pretty successful. Maybe it's a bit quiet and smooth to feel really fast.

Insurance seems to be a bit unfairly pricey, and all along I've thought that I perhaps ought to have a diesel since fuel consumption isn't as good as the Golf was. But, at the time, price, performance and availability of diesels wasn't so good. Maybe next time - but 'next time' will have to wait a bit since depreciation is a bit hard to stomach...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd August, 2004