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Alfa Romeo 147
Alfa Romeo 147
Facelift Smartens Up Cute Little Sporty Hatchback
Alfa Romeo 147
Alfa Romeo 147
Alfa Romeo 147
Alfa Romeo 147
Alfa Romeo 147

Ride Improved, New Diesel Impresses
Latest Quality Survey Reminds Buyers Of Alfa Question-Marks
*** out of 5

Alfa Romeo has face-lifted its little 147 range of 3 and 5 door sporty compact hatchbacks. The bonnet, front wings and front bumper have been redesigned. The distinctive shield-like grille is now larger and sits lower and further forward. The headlights have been restyled too.

There is a new top of the range diesel engine, with the 1.9 litre JTD Multijet having its power increased to 150 bhp from 140. The engine is exceptionally flexible and quiet. Power delivery is very impressive.

A six speed manual gearbox is standard with the new diesel, which makes for terrific cruising ability. The suspension settings have been up-rated. The ride is a big improvement over the previous model and handling is decidedly nifty on the back-roads. Inside, the main instruments are now housed in a single binnacle. There is an expanded choice of cloth and leather seats.

This undoubtedly is a terrific little driver’s car. It looks great too. But with Alfa Romeo there is always the niggling doubt about quality and depreciation. According to “What Car” data, after 3 years most 147s retain only between 47 and 48 per cent of their original price, compared with between 58 and 60 per cent for a rival like the Audi A3.

Alfa has been telling us for years that it has turned the corner on quality. But surveys tell a different story. “Auto Express” has published a survey of 100 British cars and rated them according to 10 categories including performance, practicality, reliability and running costs. The Alfa 147 came 72nd, with a rating of 78.69 per cent. The winner, with 89.9 per cent, was the Honda 200 roadster, following closely by the Honda Jazz, 88.08 per cent, and the Honda Accord 87.73 per cent. Alfa would argue that in fact there is very little difference between the top and bottom of this list (the Citroen Saxo, 100th, got a 69.26 per cent rating). It would also say that these findings are historical, and their products have improved substantially in the meantime.

But it is the comments alongside the rating which stick in the mind.

“Oh dear – very disappointing. Apart from decent ratings for comfort, performance and handling, everything else is well below par. Reliability and running costs are among the biggest bugbears, while a hard ride and poor practicality also disappoint. One driver in four reports electrical glitches, and nearly 20 per cent of wonders wouldn’t buy another 147. There’s a raft of new Alfas arriving; reliability will have to be addressed to avoid a repeat performance next year,” said Auto Express.

Auto Express quotes a 147 owner, who despite being let down, still seems to really like the car.

“At times the electrics can be bizarre, feeding me false information. But the car’s style and its thoroughly enjoyable drive more than compensate,” says this owner.

Neil Winton – April 5, 2005
Alfa Romeo 147 JTD Multijet
1.9 litre, 4-cylinder multijet diesel
150 bhp
6-speed manual
front wheels
0-62mph-100 km/h – 8.8 seconds
Top Speed:
129 mph-208 km/h
Fuel Consumption:
claimed combined 47.9 mpg-5.9 l/100km
157 g/km
4,223 mm
Height: 1,442
1,290 kg
Suspension front:
double wishbones
Suspension rear:
MacPherson independent
£17,040 (3-door)
Audi A3, BMW 1-series, VW Golf, Mazda 3, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Mini Cooper, Peugeot 307, Renault Megane, Seat Leon, Toyota Corolla, Vauxhall Astra, Volvo S40
Would I buy one?
*** out of 5
Cute, fun
expensive, depreciation, quality questions, look at the strength of the opposition

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