I like it more and more as time passes
I had the timing belt changed when acquired at 35k, essential! Done by independent specialist, also essential!
Rear brake caliper off side is stuck, but it still passed the NCT (MOT). I will repair this myself.
Window button loose, but still works.
Rain sensor wipers don't really work, I will just disconnect this and work on manual intermittent.
Uses very little oil compared to other twin sparks I have read/heard about.
In short, nothing of any real note has gone wrong.
It might not be Toyota reliable, but this particular model really has no vices (PROVIDED you change the timing belt every 35k or three years, and check the oil every week until you learn its appetite for oil).
LOVE this car a lot. I had not owned another Alfa, but I appreciate now what owners describe as the tremendous charm of the make; my car is growing on me all the time, the ride and handling are so tight and precise (for a big saloon you understand, this is not a rally car) while the car is never uncomfortable. Be aware however that you have to like paying constant attention to your driving. There is some torque steer that needs care when you boot it in second. The tight steering ratio is intended for enthusiastic driving rather than half asleep executive cruising.
There is almost no understeer, in fact I almost miss the ability to understeer and lift-off oversteer I had with the old Mondeo. This car just corners neutrally, if you accelerate in a corner it just goes faster with very little change of line or attitude.
With the lighter 2.0 petrol, the car feels very balanced and competent; I believe the 3.0 and the diesels are much heavier in the nose.
Turning circle is too big; you really must plan your turns very carefully with lots of nods and waves to other drivers. Park with care.
The engine is a furious sweet cracker. The car is perhaps a little big for this engine, and the engine does have to work hard for its keep, but it is just so addictively rev happy that it never complains. In second and third gear, between 3500 and 6000 (my self imposed redline), it feels enormously powerful, more than the power figures would suggest. It can potter around town at 1500 - 2000 comfortably, but it needs to be at 2500 - 3000 to take off. You rarely feel that the engine wants you to change up, rather it loves to be given its head. Fifth and sixth gears are overdrives only.
It engine sounds utterly beautiful, without any boy racer offence to anyone outside the car.
The 17 inch wheels look great, but 16 inches might actually be better in terms of real world fast driving on rough roads. The 225 width tyres do however bring a lot to the roadholding. With the 17s, there is a little vibration from the road that car wears on you if you are not in the mood.
Interior is so beautiful in light grey leather and black, that if the car was written off, I would want to transfer it to another! In fact if I had the space, I think I would buy another first generation 166 just to have as a future replacement!
Only a cross waist seatbelt in the centre rear. The rear seat is really designed for two rather than three.
The main mechanicals, bodywork and interior are all very solid looking and feeling.
If you like large drivers cars and don't care about cupholders, large turning circles, and a few surprises from the torque steer, then this is a very very good value second hand car.
I look forward to every opportunity to drive it.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 3rd November, 2005