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Alfa Romeo 155/156

Family affair: Alfa Romeo 155/156

Want a big family car with a difference? Used Alfas have not always been a wise buy, but things are changing...

Text: Ross Pinnock / Photos: Nathan Morgan

November 2006

Although the 2003 facelift diluted the 156’s looks, a new 2.0-litre petrol engine and tweaks to the diesel line-up give this version the broadest appeal second-hand
Stylish looks and charismatic engines have always been Alfa Romeo trademarks, but used buyers demand more substance – especially those looking for a practical family saloon!

Don’t ignore the Italian brand, how­ever, because despite its reputation for rust-prone and unreliable cars, the firm’s newer models are well worth a look. They are far removed from the Seventies offerings that tarnished its image. The new breed represents great value used.

Admittedly, the cars still can’t match the class’s best for reliability, but if you buy sensibly, the 155, 156 and 159 are fine transport. Here, we look at all three to ensure you get an Italian supermodel rather than a Latin mule. The earliest model in our line-up is the boxy 155. It’s available only as a saloon with pet­rol engines – but its successor introduced some much needed variety.

In 1998, the original 156 saloon hit showrooms, with the stylish but impractical Sport Wagon estate following in 2000. The range includes a powerful 2.4-litre JTD diesel and Alfa’s Selespeed automated manual transmission, while performance fans will enjoy the 250bhp 3.2 GTA. The latter arrived in 2002, and covers 0-60mph in only 6.3 seconds – but prices start at £10,000.

Although the 2003 facelift diluted the 156’s looks, a new 2.0-litre petrol engine and tweaks to the diesel line-up give this version the broadest appeal second-hand. In February this year, the new 159 arrived. Its GM-derived engines lack the sparkle of their predecessors, but its improved build bodes well for the future. And don’t be put off by the dealers’ poor showings in our annual Driver Power satisfaction survey. There’s a wide choice of independent specialists, plus an active owners’ club (click on Be sure to budget for insurance, though. Even a base 155 sits in group 14, so premiums are high.

Our choice: Facelifted 156
by the time it has reached two years old, a 156 will have endured the worst of its depreciation, yet it’s still young enough to look the part, too. So, a low-mileage 2.0-litre JTS or 1.9 JTD Multijet diesel version is a tempting proposition.

Whatever you choose, though, you should have an inde­pendent inspection carried out. And make sure any potential buy comes with a full service history.



Day & Whites Automotive LLP Day & Whites Automotive LLP tel 01474 879210   tel 01474 879838
Alfa Romeo Lancia Fiat Group Servicing Repairs by Specialist Independent Dealer covering, Kent, Aylesford, Bromley, London, Sussex, Surrey, Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, Gravesend and Medway Towns . Sales, Dealership, Garage, trained mechanics qualified restoration services and specialist body shop.
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