Hate to say this, seeing ho2w much you like the car. but you have only covered 8400 miles and have already had one major failure.
If you do not consider the heater to be a major failure try driving to work without one during the winter.
I have just decided to buy a 156 2.0 ts Lusso on the second hand market. I am the also the owner of a 'Bland' German car. I am taking a risk buying 'Italian' but what else is expected the car is just like the people, fast, fashionable, attention seeking and last, but not least to concious of the latter to be worried if it has a long life or not!!!
Don't we just love it, I pick up mine tomorrow, I really do.
Thank you all for your comments.
I wouldn't exactly call a heater fan switch failure a "major failure". Yes it was inconvenient, and had to be resolved quickly, but the car still worked and got me from A to B. As I said, that was early on, and I've had no trouble since.
All motor manufacturers suffer from duff components. My boss's Mercedes SL55 AMG lost the Tiptronic function on its gearbox on his first drive into the office after collecting it. Arguably more serious than a duff heater, but it was sorted without any hassles, has never reoccurred and he still loves the car to bits.
You can't put thousands of mechanical and electrical parts together time and time again and expect nothing to go wrong on any of them. Almost as important as what goes wrong is how the dealer / manufacturer resolves it, and in this case Alfa Romeo and the local dealer couldn't have been more apologetic and eager to resolve the problem.
It is good to hear the dealer has been supportive, but I wonder if you would like the car as much if they were less so.
A heater failure is major because in cold conditions it would make the car undriveable, even if it was caused by the failure of a relatively simple component such as the switch (although again, I think you might get a nasty financial shock if you asked Alfa Romeo to sell you this part).
Having owned an Alfa Romeo (a 147) which I traded 18 months ago for a premium-priced German saloon I have to agree with the author of this review. I miss my Alfa, despite the fact that my experience of Alfa Romeo dealers was that I had to visit them frequently and found them to be almost comically incompetent - the car had a sense of style, of heritage, of joy, which is notably absent from my Audi.
Fantastic car - I've had the same model for coming on two years now, and apart from a duff driveshaft in the first couple of month, she's been glorious. Would highly recommend one to anyone who wants a motor with a personality and passion about it. The dealers are, I agree, an utter shambles.
Instead of Alfa official dealerships try some very good independents out there if you're out of warranty. These people are there because they love Alfa's and in my experience know them back-to-front!
Sadly, just written off my GTV. But have just purchased a late 2004 156 JTD 2.4 20v ti and so far very impressed. Recently driven new Audi A4 TDi and BMW 3 series diesel and there is absolutely no comparison to the Alfa. I challenge any German diesel lover to try one of the Alfa range and then tell me the German car is more responsive, more passionate or more glamorous...
Maybe German and Japanese cars are bland, but at least one will reach their desired destination, without phoning the RAC.
I can't believe such hopelessly outdated views such as the one above still exist.
Alfas might not be up to Japanese standards yet, but they're no more likely to let you down than any other European marque.
I have a 156 1.9JTDm Sport (late 2005) which I bought privately second-hand 8 months ago. This is my third Alfa after a break of more than twenty years and I kick myself for having left it so long. Every time I get behind the wheel, I smile.
It's a wonderful car, not perfect (massive turning circle) but even second hand everything works with only one minor niggle. The electronic dipstick sometimes reports low engine oil which normally clears when switching the ignition off & on again.
I haven't tried an Alfa dealer since the dreadful treatment of 20 years ago but the independent garage I used for servicing was competent and modestly priced.
I usually find that people who criticise Alfas have rarely driven them, let alone owned one. None of the Alfas I've had ever let me down and the reputation Alfas have for being unreliable seems biased. My friends that own BMWs and Audis have encountered serious and expensive failures from their clinical, soulless machines.
If you enjoy driving rather than being just a car user and have never driven an Alfa, do yourself a favour, try one out and join the 'Alfisti'.
156s; 10vs are a pain in the neck in my experience - 20v was a tale and I am looking out for another!
I bought an Alfa 156 2.4 JTD Sportwagon 15 months ago for £3000 from a car lot in Bristol. It was the best looking car in the lot, and compared to the equivalent BMW or Audi, it was cheaper, hallelujah.
I used to own BMWs, a 733i, 2 320s, 1 318i and I worked in the motor trade for quite few years. This Alfa is a 2002 150HP model, and it is a sublime motor to drive, I have covered 30000 miles in the time I've owned it, a set and a half of tyres too! I have replaced the turbo, the alternator, the cam belt, the auxiliary belt, the fronts discs and 2 sets of pads, the rear pads twice, the rear trailing arms, a top suspension arm on the front nearside. It has returned me 40 mpg and I drive it really hard.
You can go from 50 mph to 138mph in one gear! That is pretty impressive, but you need a good bit of road in front of you. Every time I drive it, I get out with a smile on my face, it is like wearing an old raicoat, it feels comfortable and familiar. It feels like that when you are blasting down a country lane too, it zings and pops, it's exciting and I'm a 58 year old bloke.
Right now the Alfa 156 is probably the best second hand car to buy; loads of bangs for the bucks!
If you go into a bend too fast in this car, the engine will pull you into the hedge on the opposite side of the road; you can get out of it though if you are quick, and the car responds immediately to your treatment. Of course this sort of driving comes with its drawbacks, it ain't cheap, but Alfa Romeo cars are good solid cars, and they have a quirky vibe about them, which has an appeal of its own.
I spoke to guy with a 2.5 V6 model one day, he had done 200,000 miles in it from new and enjoyed every one of them, and when I asked him about the fuel costs, he just revved the engine and said, "who cares" at that he zoomed off. I did say to him I almost bought one of those models, and he advised me against it, because the suspension parts were expensive and kept wearing out. For Gods sake he'd done 200,000 miles in it, of course the suspension will go now and again, it sounded very good as he took off.
Everyone who owns or has owned an Alfa 156 talks highly of it, even though they cost a fortune to keep on the road. If you want the driving experience that will have you grinning like a little schoolboy with a new toy, then I'm afraid an Alfa will make you pay for it, but you won't get it from any other car for that price.
Buying one is easy, keeping the bugger will break you, but you won't care if you have an ounce of passion in your veins.
If you think BMWs are reliable, think again. I returned my eighteen month old, "Approved Used" 320d M Sport to the dealer for a full refund after seven months of ownership. Bought it just shy of its first birthday with 11,000 miles on the clock. In seven months / 12,000 miles:
One complete gearbox failure.
Two dual mass flywheel replacements.
Turbo became noisy and had to be replaced.
Engine wouldn't idle properly on random occasions, accompanied by engine management light
ESP warning lights coming on and going off at random.
Clonking rear suspension.
I don't drive my cars particularly hard, and my last car, a Mondeo TDCi 130 Zetec did 75,000 completely trouble free miles in my hands.
Anyway, the reason I commented is that I bought an ex demo 159 2.4 JTD at a good price. Reliability wise, it is in a different stratosphere to my BMW. Doesn't handle quite as crisply (the BMWs are fantastic in the twisties, whatever else you say about them) but for looks, character, passion, and the ability to make you just feel special when you're around it, the Alfa has the BMW licked. It's a lovely car.