166 Review from the Guardian - Alfa Romeo Forum
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166 Review from the Guardian

I came across the following review while surfing. It's a bit old but quite amusing. See

Wheels: Giles Smith test drives the Alfa Romeo 166 | Motoring | guardian.co.uk Shopping


You lookin' at me?

Alfa Romeo has beefed up the 166 - and given it a harder stare

Giles Smith
Tuesday December 7, 2004
The Guardian

Big, fast and daringly crimped about the sides and the bonnet, the 166 is Alfa Romeo's unusually passionate take on the executive saloon - which is a turn-up all by itself, given that executive saloons generally entertain the notion of passion about as frequently as the giant panda, and with about as much success. The 166 is what the more hot-blooded sales executive is driving. It hints at a life of reckless, open-necked hurtling on the auto-strada, even when bogged down in traffic going clockwise on the M25. It trails a powerful waft of Milan, even if you take it to Daventry for a conference on cost-forecasting. By all means hang your jacket in the back. But it had better be an Italian one.

The 166 has been loosening executives' ties since 1999, when it was introduced as the flagship of the Alfa Romeo range, a range more commonly associated with snubbier, sportier models, though, in fact, Alfa turns out to have a perfectly decent history of building creamy, luxury cars too. It's just that we tend to notice them less.

Hoping to correct our vision, the 166 is back from a corporate brainstorming session, newly gilded with gizmos and toys, but at the same time made subject to a bit of strategic rationalising, or good old 21st-century downsizing. Three of the old engine options have been dumped and a new, punishingly fast 3.2 V6 24v has been introduced at the top end.

Cosmetic changes are minimal and unlikely to prompt a letter to your MP, unless it concerns you to learn that the air intakes on the new model are covered with a black, honeycomb mesh, which they didn't have before. And unless you really take against the new headlamp clusters, which have narrowed into a slightly harder stare.

Most critical among the redesigns is the repositioning of the number plate, which is now offset beneath the left-side headlamp, in keeping with a valuable Alfa tradition - albeit one that works better with the smaller print of Italian number plates, rather than the "if you can read this, you're too close" font that the UK goes in for. Anyway, you can't have an Alfa with a central front number plate, any more than you can have a Ferrari with net curtains and a canvas awning.

With the number plate out of the way, there is now room for the generic, bumper-bisecting Alfa grille, the shield-shaped metal screen familiar from other new Alfa models of recent times and somewhere between Batman's night attire and the mask of an ancient Chinese warrior. There may be prettier grilles out there, but this one is unique among modern car radiators in appearing to have the capacity for violence.

The founding principle of any Alfa is that you should be able to go fast in it. One is always mildly surprised to see the speedo bothering at all with the lower figures. The dial might as well start around the 55mph mark and go up from there. However, unlike the 147, which actually complains to your solicitor if it averages less than 69mph with you at the wheel, the 166 is relatively tame and docile, comfortable, even, with the concept of low speed. It's not always leaping away from you, and it doesn't mind if you are occasionally required, by circumstances beyond your control, to stay in third for a while - a situation which, let's face it, can befall even the busiest executive with the most conveniently placed company parking space.

Among the new paint colours available for the 166, I recommend the moonsand grey. People say the Apollo missions achieved nothing, but let's at least credit them with bringing back the materials that would one day inspire an Alfa paint-job - and a deeply cool, understated one, at that.

This is a luxury car, but it offers luxury of a particular stripe. For all its determination to fan you wherever you need fanning, to relieve you of the burden of switching on your own windscreen wipers and to honour your ears with an eight-speaker hi-fi system, the 166 persistently assumes that you have an interest in the road, rather than a desire to ride loftily above it in a polished teak box. Thus the cabin controls are mounted on a sheet of steel and the suspension, though by no means spine-endangering, is not set up to cosset you into forgetfulness. The gear intervals are Grand Prix-short, the steering is racing-firm. You'll believe a board member can fly.

That said, the cabin was slick with soft leather. It didn't so much cling to the interior as seem to flow through it. Merely sitting still in the driver's seat was like being gently nuzzled by a herd of cows. The Alfa badge was stitched into the leather where it could discretely rub between your shoulder blades on long journeys. It was clear that we were at the arresting point at which branding meets fetishism. And at 70mph, too. I waited for the sickening impact, but it never came.
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Re: 166 Review from the Guardian

cosmetic changes are minimal?? Not sure i'd agree
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Re: 166 Review from the Guardian

cosmetic changes are minimal?? Not sure i'd agree
you wouldn't know it had had a facelift from that description. aprt from that though i like the article it sums up everything i feel and think when sat "wafting" along the M56 on the way to and from work.

all those dull and bland cars and here we have what has to be the best looking big car on the road. i was in an A6 the other day and yes its packed with gadgets and techno stuff (the glove box opens remotely) it was sterile, souless and after the initial "ok its not that bad" there was nothing to hold the gaze. the other thing is i haven't yet seen another 166 - can't say the same about the competition.

i have to say that i was having such a good time the other day (with my italian jacket in the back i might add) i decided to miss my exit and go via the M62 - about a 15 mile detour

got home a little later but the wife didn't notice

il romeo di alfa fa le automobili pił fini nel mondo
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Re: 166 Review from the Guardian

The gear intervals are Grand Prix-short, the steering is racing-firm. You'll believe a board member can fly.
The BORED will be happy

Good review!
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