Quattroporte vs 166 vs 156 - Alfa Romeo Forum
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(Post Link) post #1 of 5 Old 25-07-19 Thread Starter
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Quattroporte vs 166 vs 156

Since I know a lot of guys and girls on Alfaowner cast lustful glances at cheap Quattroportes but are put off by the possible maintenance issues, here are my thoughts, being I own both a 166 and Qporte plus two 156 v6 before that.

2004 Quattroporte Duo Select.

Ive had this car for a few weeks now, and I think it is important to say what it is, and what it isnt, before comparing.
The early dry sump Quattros are considered by some to be the purest of the mark 5 series, and consider the ZF auto cars to have been dumbed down a bit for the masses.
I brought mine, one of the earliest, based on a combination of price and superb condition. I would not have minded if the car was an auto, but having driven 1000kms in 2 1/2 days I learned the duo select gearbox very well.

What the early Quatroporte is is a Ferrari 430/458 derived V8 coupled to a manual paddle shift F1 gearbox similar to the 6 speed Ferrari units however the gear ratios will be different.
What it isnt, is an automatic.
The Duo select has been panned far and wide by the press, and by owners who killed clutches at low mileages.
The secret is to always remember the car is a manual, and drive it in manual mode at all times. Using sport mode shortens the gearchange time, and clutch actuation, considerably, and adds a longer life.
I searched Maserati forums for driving advice, and stuck to it. A deep search of forums made me realise there are cars out there with decent mileage on the original clutch, and even more importantly, opinion seems to be evenly divided as to which is the better car, ZF or Duo Select.
The styling, done by Pininfarina on the earlier cars, is evocative of some of the earlier Maserati, and unlike, for instance, an S type Jag, doesnt look contrived. This is a little bit of a surprise as the styling was penned by Ken Okuyama, and unfortunately, apart from the Maserati I dont like any of his other work, its fussy and, not surprisingly because it was designed by a Japanese, strikes me as being too much like a Japanese car to look at.
The interior work is of a class well beyond the 166, which was in itself a nice place to be, and the quality of materials is only let down by the inevitable sticky finish problems. Most of this was removed from my car anyway.
The sound, and handling, is as you would expect from a car of this pedigree. The car is large but somehow shrinks on the open road, and is very chuckable. However when hard braking it becomes obvious that the car carries a lot of weight.
On the open road it is a pleasure, marred by road noise and a few trim rattles. This is mainly down to the optional 19 inch wheels being fitted I suspect.
In town the story is very different. The size of the car means tight turns and parking are a bit of a pain, the the paddle shift creates an extra workload that has to be managed.

I have to wonder if the prices for these cars have hit rock bottom. If this had Ferrari badges it would be selling for $100K plus as opposed to the $20K average. Hell even a crappy ( and disappointing to drive) Ferrari Mondial costs 4 times a Quattroporte at the moment.
With Ferrari prices escalating at an alarming rate, I suspect it will only be a matter of time before the Maseratis follow pace. And there is only one 4 door, Ferrai V8 powered Italian supercar. I live in hope. And no cam belts....

2008 Alfa 166
In comparison to my Masearti, which was as close to perfect as a 15 year old car can be, my 166 suffered from the abuse of a poor owner using a useless mechanic. It has been 12 months of tinkering to get the car to a point where I am happy with it.
The Alfa is more dramatic than pretty, and certainly its rear end makes the Quatroporte look dowdy in comparison.
The Sportronic gearbox suffers from large gaps being it is only a 4 speed, and the internal fitout is not as nice, lacking the high end feel of the Maserati. It feels like the whole car has been built down to a budget rather than up to a standard. However it is still a good effort, and remarkably my 166 has no body or trim rattles whatsoever.
After driving the Maserati and stepping into the 166 it feels very compact, which is a surprise as it is considered a large car dimensionally. Seat comfort is on a par with the maser, but it lacks all the bells and whistles. On the road the 166 is quieter and makes me realise the Quatroporte, for all its pretenses as a limousine, is a more sporting car in setup and intent.
The 166 doesnt handle as well and its limits can be easily found. Mainly due to the front wheel drive and weight distribution.
Where the 166 really has it above the Maser is in rarity. I have never seen another facelift 166 on a New Zealand road, and while Quatroportes are relatively rare, they are seen occasionally.
Certainly if you cant afford a Quatro, the 166 is a nice alternative, but not in the same class.
When it comes t crowd pull, if thats your thing, the Maserati wins due to its size and the name. The 166 suffers from being painted in a discreet metallic grey, and when people do notice, the Alfa name is somehow considered less interesting.
That being said an old guy twisted his head off watching the 166 as I pulled into a car park this morning.

2001 Alfa 156 V6 Q Shift
Ah, the prettiest small saloon car ever made, if maintained well they can be dead relaible. I ran mine for 5 years and apart from routine maintainence I only ever had to replace a tail light bulb.
Its unfair to compare a 156 with the 166 or Quatroporte, but it remains one of my all time favorite cars. Small, nimble, and providing its set up well, gives plenty of warning on the limit.
The interior is a let down even with Momo leather seats, I hated the cheap plastic surfaces, but that was made up for the entertaining drive.
There has been much written about the 156 so I wont go into it any deeper.

I brought the Maserati because I lusted after one, I brought the 166 because it was, and is, a worthy substitute for a Quatroporte, however I still look back at my 156's with fondness, and still watch the for sale pages to see what they are doing, i consider them to be that good id buy another, even though I have no use for it :-)
Buy a Quatroporte if you have a love of fine italian cars and an eye for a possible investment
Buy a 166 for rarity, dramatic looks and all round competency, but I doubt they will ever appreciate much.
Buy a 156 for sheer fun, the prettiest body ever made and the howl of the v6 when being thrashed.
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Last edited by SkygodKiwi; 25-07-19 at 08:26.
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Hard to know if Maserati's will become an appreciating car. Surely, they can't go down in value much more than the are now. Even old Rolls Royce's and Bentleys from the 1960's - 1980's have been the same price for as long as I've been looking, 8 or so years. 4 door cars never seem to fare too well against coupes or convertibles across all makes and models.

166's are nice cars, there is a facelift one down my road in a sort of grey-gold kind of colour. But very uncommon indeed.

Hopefully the Quattroporte continues to serve you well.
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I do like your QP very much, well done you for making that choice because I think too many get scared and go for much lesser cars . I do however completely disagree with the crappy Mondial drive. I wonder how long you lived with a Mondial to form your opinion?

I owned a 1983 Mondial QV, rosso/crema and loved it. The noise was sublime and the smell of the Connolly leather interior to die for. I sold mine in 2010 and replaced with an F355 but saw the Mondial a couple of years ago at an FOC concourse in the North West. I had to have a whiff of the interior

The drive was something else, you sit very forward in a Mondial and the pedals are offset which is typical old Ferrari style and the unusual low seat backs where the headrest actually added to the height of the seat, it went no where near my head . The wheelbase is a little longer than the 308 it is based on but the drive and handling is very good, firm and positive with no power steering and you can feel what the squirrel you ran over had for breakfast (Clarksonism). I'd love to take the Mondial on a B-road and pitch it against your QP and show just how good a drive that car is. It never scared me or caught me off guard but I will say that the one time I did 135 mph (off public roads naturally) it did feel a little light at the front.

The Mondial's looks are subjective but I really liked the angular cab forward look.

Both the QP and Mondial are four seaters but I'm 100% certain the QP has more room and I do admit given the choice of a four seater the QP would be a contender and possibly more usable.
Don't get me wrong I'm not dissing you or your car (I really do admire QP's) and would love a 3200/4200 coupe or Spider and have been tempted but I feel the Mondial gets bad press it does not deserve and usually by people who have actually never drive none or better, lived with one but then that is how it is with cars and opinions of and suppose I am guilty of that myself too :-(.
I also think secondhand Ferraris are stupidly expensive to buy (they always will be expensive to maintain however) and I do not get why secondhand Maseratis are cheap. It really makes no sense at all

I had the Mondial from September 2004 until February 2010 (the second longest time I have owned a car, only beaten by a 916 Spider) and loved every second of that car. If I could afford to have two Ferraris I would buy a Mondial (probably a 3.2) at the drop of a hat.
The F355 has gone too, that was overall for me a disappointment relatively speaking because it is a Ferrari (I think it was my car and not F355's in general) but I would have another Mondial.

Impressed by your choice though
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(Post Link) post #5 of 5 Old 10-08-19 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MalcQV View Post
I do like your QP very much, well done you for making that choice because I think too many get scared and go for much lesser cars . I do however completely disagree with the crappy Mondial drive. I wonder how long you lived with a Mondial to form your opinion?

I owned a 1983 Mondial QV, rosso/crema and loved it. The noise was sublime and the smell of the Connolly leather interior to die for. I sold mine in 2010 and replaced with an F355 but saw the Mondial a couple of years ago at an FOC concourse in the North West. I had to have a whiff of the interior

The drive was something else, you sit very forward in a Mondial and the pedals are offset which is typical old Ferrari style and the unusual low seat backs where the headrest actually added to the height of the seat, it went no where near my head . The wheelbase is a little longer than the 308 it is based on but the drive and handling is very good, firm and positive with no power steering and you can feel what the squirrel you ran over had for breakfast (Clarksonism). I'd love to take the Mondial on a B-road and pitch it against your QP and show just how good a drive that car is. It never scared me or caught me off guard but I will say that the one time I did 135 mph (off public roads naturally) it did feel a little light at the front.

The Mondial's looks are subjective but I really liked the angular cab forward look.

Both the QP and Mondial are four seaters but I'm 100% certain the QP has more room and I do admit given the choice of a four seater the QP would be a contender and possibly more usable.
Don't get me wrong I'm not dissing you or your car (I really do admire QP's) and would love a 3200/4200 coupe or Spider and have been tempted but I feel the Mondial gets bad press it does not deserve and usually by people who have actually never drive none or better, lived with one but then that is how it is with cars and opinions of and suppose I am guilty of that myself too :-(.
I also think secondhand Ferraris are stupidly expensive to buy (they always will be expensive to maintain however) and I do not get why secondhand Maseratis are cheap. It really makes no sense at all

I had the Mondial from September 2004 until February 2010 (the second longest time I have owned a car, only beaten by a 916 Spider) and loved every second of that car. If I could afford to have two Ferraris I would buy a Mondial (probably a 3.2) at the drop of a hat.
The F355 has gone too, that was overall for me a disappointment relatively speaking because it is a Ferrari (I think it was my car and not F355's in general) but I would have another Mondial.

Impressed by your choice though
A ha, I didnt mean to insult Mondial owners, my only drive of one I didnt think much of it, in fact I preferred the 308GT4!
AS for your 355, Im surprised to hear it was a disappointment, i found the 355 to be a stunning drive. Was it down to poor previous maintenance? I guess there will always be poor examples of great cars.

Thanks for your comments :-)
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