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Alfa Romeo 156 (1998-2006) Buying Guide

Alfa Romeo 156 (1998-2006)
Alfa Romeo 156 (1998-2006)Alfa Romeo 156 (1998-2006)Alfa Romeo 156 (1998-2006)Alfa Romeo 156 (1998-2006)Alfa Romeo 156 (1998-2006)Alfa Romeo 156 (1998-2006)Alfa Romeo 156 (1998-2006)Alfa Romeo 156 (1998-2006)Pictures shown may not represent exact model specified

by Richard Dredge

Only the Italians could design a car as beautiful as the 156 - and give it the soul to back up those looks. The 156 sometimes suffers from typical Italian build quality too, but this car is much better than previous Alfas, so don't be put off by the reputation. Your best bet is a facelifted car (sold after August 2003), as these are the best-built.

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We LikeWe Don't Like
Equipment levels
Driving experience
V6 thirst
Fidgety ride
Iffy build quality of early cars
Key Dates 
1/98156 saloon on sale.
4/99Q System sequential manual transmission available on 2.5 V6 cars.
6/992.4JTD appears.
6/00Sportwagon on sale.
5/02156 GTA in showrooms, with 3.2 V6 engine; six-speed auto optional from January 2003.
3/031.9JTD joins range.
8/03Facelifted car arrives, with new nose and tail. 1.6TS joins range
  • Alloy wheels are the norm; check they're not kerbed as they're pricey to replace.
  • Check all electrics work properly; some things are temperamental.
  • Front tyres wear quickly on the V6, so check the tread levels and wear patterns.
  • Be wary of black cars; paint problems are common.
  • Oil pump on 2.0 petrol can pack in, destroying engine.
  • Timing belt needs renewing at 36,000 miles, not the 72,000 originally scheduled.
  • Air-con fails all too readily.
  • Rough running is caused by a failed airflow sensor in the fuel injection.
  • Selespeed gearbox is unreliable, so check it's working properly.
  • Alloy sumps get cracked on speed bumps.

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