2003 Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon Lusso 2.4 JTD from UK and Ireland
JTD storming performance and sound with real character, but shame about the dealers!
The car has been fault free.
My first Alfa was a 147 2.0 Twin Spark, replacing a Fiat Punto. It was an absolutely beautiful car inside and out, in my opinion the most elegant in it's class. It handles well and was well built, but did not have as much 'go' in it as I expected a 150bhp Alfa to have. However, this review is not for the 147!!!
I chose the Alfa Romeo Sportwagon as a car because while I needed some good load lugging ability, I didn't need the 'full on' capacity of say a VW Passat or a Volvo estate. The car I would have, also had to be the most stylish in it's class, which in my opinion it is, but the main reason for choosing this car, is that it is an Alfa!
An Alfa Romeo has obvious character and a hidden, subtle character that is hard to pin down, but stemming from the badge itself and the motoring history of the marque.
Engine choice was an easy one for me. A petrol 1.6 or a 1.8 was not on the list. The 150bhp 2.0 Twin Spark is the same as in the 147, but although it sounds great, would have even less pulling power in the heavier 156. The 2.5 V6 just drinks too much fuel as does the £10,000 more 3.2 V6 GTA version.
The 2.4 litre, 5 cylinder engine with a standard 150 bhp engine which pulls like a train with a gruff, warbling engine note was the version I chose for it's blend of power and economy.
Body roll is well controlled and handling is good, but not outstanding. Low speed ride on the standard suspension of the Lusso version is OK, but can get a bit bouncy when pressing on over bumpy backroads.
The 5 speed manual gearbox is slick and great to use and the seats clad in natural leather are both comfortable and grippy.
Build quality and reliability (so far at least) can't be faulted. The perception of Alfas rusting and breaking down is a myth.
What isn't a myth however, is the dealers. Their aftersales and service at times can be truly appalling.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 17th August, 2003
7th Jan 2004, 08:01
Good review and indeed I driver a 156 JTS which I very much enjoy.
Totally agree with you regarding Alfa dealers after sales care or apparent lack of it!
6th Jul 2004, 07:14
Try the new "M-Jet" 2.4 JTD engine in the facelift model. Now 175 bhp and even smoother! Matches the 2.0 TS to 60 and annihilates it through the gears.
7th Jul 2004, 12:49
Fantastic car 2003 156 JTD 2,4 150 - dealers are complete rubbish - wouldn't replace a warranty wheel bearing as they needed to do 'nearly 60mph to hear the noise'.
The was car fitted with a plug in tuning box, is about 185bhp now for another £300; best money spent since buying the car.
Always had German cars before, but they have got lesser in quality and even more boring. The 156 has got better, and is actually very enjoyable to drive.
12th Apr 2007, 09:59
I have just bought a 156 Lusso. Can anybody help me change the heater from Fahrenheit to Celsius? I have looked through the book and spoke to the dealer. The dealer wants £50, and says it might change it from climate control to just a heating system!
Superb car; changed a 2001 Vectra for a 2003 156 Lusso. How can these cars be placed in the same class?