The Alfa Romeo 156 is the more attractive alternative to the dull executive saloons in this class. The model’s coupe-like bodywork is not just gorgeous in design but also revels in Italian flair. But beyond good looks, the Alfa Romeo 156 delivers driving pleasure to further its charm and character. Unfortunately the 156 saloon isn’t as superior in terms of its interior space, reliability, and build quality. Read on to know how the 156 proves on the road and in other aspects that matter.
The 156 Saloon comes with a diverse range of engine choices: from 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrol units to a 3.2 V6 and a 1.6 T-Spark that comes with the GTA. The model also offers the common-rail diesel engines and the 1.9-litre unit known for its refinement, economy, and willing performance. A stronger option than the 150bhp of the 1.9-litre is the 2.4-litre diesel unit.
The 156 impresses the most in terms of its keen cornering and able handling. The vehicle has no problems in remaining confident and secure as you push the vehicle to its limit. Sharp steering delivers more than enough feedback. Plus drivers will enjoy the vehicle’s nimble feel as they wriggle in and out of tough traffic. But such a performance can get tough when you fit it with the Selespeed semi-automatic gearbox.
The driving position is fully adjustable, making comfort and view no issue for tall or short drivers. Switchgear is attractive in style and easy to reach. Tall drivers will have no issues either with the 156’s leg and headroom.
The V6, 2.4 JTD, and 2.0 TS come with headlight washers, stainless steel tailpipes, a woodern steering wheel, and alloy wheels as standard. The 2.0 JTS 2002 edition came with a VDC or vehicle dynamic control system, a new interior, curtain airbags, and a Momo leather trim. There has also been an uprated 2.4 JTD engine since that year with the same features. From 2000 onwards, the Lusso and Veloce packs were replaced with the Lusso and Sports pack. The Turismo became the base model. For those after basic but upgraded features, the GTA .2 V6 models from 2002 offer heated and eletrcif front seats, 17” alloys, and body styling.
Safety is a questionable guarantee from the 156, as this model does not report of any Euro NCAP crash test result. This is a serious consideration as many vehicles in today’s executive market demand this test as a standard. Airbags are not a guarantee as passenger and side airbags only became standard after 1999. It’s best to go for the more recent models. Nonetheless security is assured with the keyless entry, unique-fit stereo, immobilizer, and standard alarm features. Luggage space is limited; don’t expect the boot to handle large loads. Rear passengers will definitely have problems fitting in their legs. Out back, three individuals will be squeezing themselves in. But with only a few on board, all passengers will be able to get comfortable and enjoy support throughout long trips.
Overall the 156 has enjoyed significant improvements over time, but the model has yet to prove itself against the standards being set by class leaders.
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