Fast but faulty?
Reliability worries take the shine off this driver’s delight, writes Graham Smith
ITALIAN cars have long been high on style and performance, but come with lingering doubts about build quality and reliability. The current crop of models, such as the Alfa Romeo 147, promises the same tantalising mix of looks and speed, and the claim the bad old days are now well and truly buried in the past.
But are they really any better than those old models that caused their owners so much heartache?
ALFA Romeo is a well-respected sports car manufacturer with a proud racing history dating back almost 100 years. Today, it is part of the Fiat empire, along with other great Italian brands such as Ferrari and Maserati.
The 147 was part of a new thrust of models to breathe new energy into the brand. It was an attractive, flamboyantly-styled small hatch with three and five-door body styles.
Though pretty by hatch standards, the 147 came with a few compromises.
It had a high waistline, thick pillars, a large centre headrest and a smallish rear window, all of which restricted the driver’s vision and made the cabin dark and gloomy.
It had heavily contoured, supportive front seats. Those in the rear, however, were a little cramped.
Luggage space was limited. Interior appointments tended to be fiddly but looked good.
Large alloy wheels filled out the wheel arches at each corner.
There was a choice of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder Twin Spark engine or a 3.2-litre V6. At its peak the 2.0-litre four was putting out 110kW and 181Nm, enough to make it a fun drive.
Buyers of the 2.0-litre could have the standard five-speed manual gearbox or the semi-auto clutchless sequential shift Selespeed five-speed transmission.
The V6 GTA, with 184kW and 400Nm, was a real excitement machine. The gearbox was a six-speed manual or a six-speed Selespeed.
On the lot
THE 147 suffers from the same repu- tation for unreliability that all Italian cars tend to suffer from, and that affects its resale value.
It’s great for lovers of Alfas who don’t buy the argument, but not so great for anyone trying to sell. Pay $9500-$17,500 for a 2.0 Twin-Spark three-door, add $500 for five doors.