Diesel missile with an astonishing soundtrack
Rear wheels rub on arches when the car is fully laden.
Glovebox lid is slightly crooked.
Successful restyle means it's still one of the best looking saloon cars on the road. The optional 17" alloys finish it off nicely.
Italian leather seats are very special and as well as being comfy, smell and feel like no other. Interior is still very stylish, although some of the materials are on the cheap side. Built quite solidly though and surprisingly free of squeaks. Love the Lamborghini Miura style hooded dials which have the bonus of being invisible from the passenger seat - great if you have a backseat driving wife who goes into whinge mode when you exceed the speed limit. As I do.
New "Multijet" 2.4 five cylinder turbodiesel engine is utterly fantastic, and I cannot believe how little exposure this amazing engine has had in the press. No diesel clatter once warm (even at idle!) and a massively impressive 175 bhp and 375 Nm of torque. No turbo lag whatsoever, and from just 1500 RPM, it boots the car up the road with sufficient thrust to squeeze you into the seat, whilst delivering an Audi Quattro-esque five pot warble as it does so. Being an Alfa, the sound is at just the right level and of just the right quality to make you grin. I don't know how Alfa did it, but they have produced an engine which is truly indistinguishable from a good petrol unit, apart from a redline at 5k instead of 7.
Handling is OK, but not as balanced as my previous Mondeo TDCi 130 and with a greater tendency to understeer. Steering is good though with lots of feel, and the gear change quality is satisfactory. Fuel economy on motorways and fast A-roads is stunning at 45 mpg, but quickly drops into the mid 30's with town and twisty B-road work. For the performance on offer, even the lower figure is deeply impressive.
This car is one of the best kept secrets on the road. I challenge even the most hardened diesel sceptic to walk away unimpressed after a test drive. Love it to pieces!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 23rd February, 2004