I would like some pointers on purchase options please…1.6 or 2.0 has anyone had both and care to comment about performance and driving style (torque through the rev range etc?).
She is currently driving a 2.5 V6 Vectra and a 2.0 Volvo 480, both low revving with plenty of torque low down and they don’t like to rev very high. I am guessing something like an Alfa will have its power high up the range?
Auto…it’s an automated manual? Is it OK or best to avoid? I would prefer an auto as I usually forget to use the clutch when I have to drive her car but to be honest repairs would scare me! I also don’t like jerky changes, can it slur changes OK?
wreeve welcome to AO
To answer your question about torque, you are right the twinspark engines are lacking in low-down torque, particularly the 1.6. Both 1.6 and 2.0 have variable valve timing and the 2.0 has variable inlet timing too, in other words a lot the power is only available between about 4300 to 6500 rpm. If you or your wife want to hustle the car along,the car will do it. You will have to work it hard though, but you'll have fun doing so as the engine sings when driven like this, although fuel consumption will suffer in the process. (I get around 34mpg from my 1.6 on a fast run, and I do use the full rev range on occasion).
One thing to bear in mind, the Alfa Romeo is not a car that likes not being maintained, it will need topping with oil, perhaps weekly and cambelt etc changing regularly (36k/3 years) Reports of unreliability are usually down to neglet, ie owners who never lift the bonnet between services.
The Selespeed is robotized gearbox which can be operated via paddle shifters from steering wheel or via a little gear lever. The gearbox itself is the same as the manual version but has an actuator to make the changes. Beware that the gearboxes can suffer a weak syncromesh on third, so when you test drive take the car up to 6K revs and change from second to third, listen closely/feel for a crunch. If it's a manual then make this gearchange a quick one, you'll feel it in your wrist if the syncro is on the way out.
Other than that, check for worn bushes (bounce on each wing and listen for squeaks) and power steering fluid leaks towards the back of then engine.
If that hasn't put you off, good luck..they are great cars and if well looked after don't suffer any more unreliablilty than anything else on the road.