Alfa 156 20v...end of the road.
The time as finally come to say farewell to my beloved Alfa 156 2.4 20v. I've decided to offer a critique of 'Alfie' to share my experiences with owners and would be owners alike.
I purchased the car 2 years ago for the princely sum of £2195. This got me a metallic grey 20v with 90000 miles with good service history and a lovely red leather interior.
Firstly the positives:
The looks; so much better looking than the equivalent BMW 3 series both inside and out. The engine; the best sounding diesel out there, loads of power and torque while surprisingly economical. Handling; nice steering feel, grippy chassis. Never fails to put a smile on my face when presented with a nice stretch of country road.
Now the negatives:
Unbelievable design over sites; I have never driven a modern car that has so many glaring design flaws. Some of these are form over function, like the glove box that doesn't even fit the book pack in, or the lack of cup holders, or the stupidly small wing mirrors. Others though are much more fundamental. Brakes are poor. Steering lock is laughable. Trip computer and fuel gauge are inaccurate.
Problems I've encountered.
After the 1st few months of trouble free motoring it developed an exhaust rattle at tick over, this was quickly identified by the local kwik fit as being the front exhaust bracket being broken, ok I thought nice easy fix....only one problem the clip can only be purchased with the exhaust!
After another couple of months I developed an oil leak. This manifested itself as oil sprayed on the drivers side front wheel arch. I quickly realised that the leak was coming from the oil cooler pipe. Another easy fix I thought. Wrong again. The garage broke the oil cooler taking the pipe off and ended up costing £600 to repair a simple corroded pipe fitting.
Then MOT time. I'd noticed a strange creaking coming from behind the dash for a little while, this turned out to be the drivers side lower suspension arm. It seems the design of the lower wishbones leads them to wear out faster than any other car I have had experience with. My service history revealed that both arm had been replaced at 45k miles. I'm not sure whether this affects the big diesels more than the petrol due to the extra weight over the front axle, but I have been told by a couple of alfa specialists that this is extremely common.
Incredibly though I find myself driving around these design flaw, forgiving it for it mechanical gremlins and loving every minute of it! It a car that you grow into, it's infectious. It has a peach of an engine and when everything works it is sublime. I will miss it dearly.
Without doubt it is my favourite car I've owned!