Fast but faulty?

Re­li­a­bil­ity wor­ries take the shine off this driver’s de­light, writes Gra­ham Smith

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Cars -

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?

Model watch

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.

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