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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The 147 has Alfa's best cabin yet. It's also cheap to buy, handles well and the engines are great

Against The ride is too firm, which spoils that car's comfort, and cramped in the back

Verdict It looks the business and it's fun to drive, but the running costs are high for this type of car

Go for… 2.0 TS 5dr

Avoid… 3.2 V6 GTA

Alfa Romeo 147 Hatchback
  • 1. Cambelt often snaps before recommended 72,000 mile change - have it checked
  • 2. Classy cabin is a real high point for the 147
  • 3. 147 only scored three stars for occupant protection in Euro NCAP crash tests
  • 4. The 147 is one of the most distinctive small family cars around
  • 5. There's not much room in the back or in the boot, so it's no family car
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Alfa Romeo 147 Hatchback full review with expert trade views

Rasping engines and super-quick steering show that the 147 is designed as a sporty car, but where a Golf GTi or BMW 1 Series stay smooth and controlled over bumpy roads, the 147's body control is poor and the ride suffers, too.

Yet, if it can't cut it as a sporty car, it certainly looks right: inside and out, this is one handsome small hatch. The interior looks much better made than in older Alfas, too. Cabin space is tight, though, and the boot is small.

A face-lift in 2005 smoothed the car's nose and boosted kit levels across the range, but the differences are so subtle that you'd need to park the two cars side-by-side to spot them.

The 147 scores only three Euro NCAP stars for occupant safety, a poor result when most rivals claim four or even five. It gained two stars for pedestrian protection, which is average.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Values for petrol and diesel have been dropping all year, Lusso best to sell

James Ruppert
Used car guru

All the engines are powerful enough and equipment levels are high.

The 1.6 petrol is the smallest in the range, but it still does a good job of pulling the car along, while the 2.0 packs real fizz. The larger engine also comes with the option of a semi-automatic gearbox, which works well, but isn't that reliable.

The 3.2 V6 in the top-of-the-range GTA has a whacking 250bhp, but can't be recommended because that is simply too much power for the car to handle.

There's also a pair of smooth 1.9-litre diesel engines, with 115bhp or 140bhp. But, given this is a sports hatch, we'd go for the model with the extra power.

Other than on the GTA, which has its own unique trim, the choice is between Turismo or Lusso across the range. On older cars, Turismo means no alloy wheels or CD player, so we'd go for Lusso, which includes both as standard.

Likewise, faced with a choice of three- or five-door models, we'd go for the extra doors for added practicality.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Poor reliability, high average claims and engine failure - it'll be in the garage often

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

147s are relatively cheap to buy, particularly if you leave it until they are three years old. By then, the value will have dropped enormously from new, leaving you to net a bargain.

However, running costs are high. Servicing is as expensive as for a BMW or Mercedes, and some spares are more costly than you'd expect. To make matters worse, a few routine repairs are complicated and push up labour charges, too.

Most models put you into insurance group 12, which is reasonable, but the 3.2 GTA is group 19, which could be a major issue if you're under 25 or have had an accident or two.

The diesels are pretty frugal, returning up to 48mpg. The 34mpg officially quoted for the 1.6 petrol and the 31mpg for the 2.0 look perfectly respectable, but plenty of owners claim they can't get close to those figures.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Values for petrol and diesel have been dropping all year, Lusso best to sell

James Ruppert
Used car guru

There's no hard and fast rule with the 147. Some models are utterly reliable, their owners reporting not even a blown bulb between services, whereas others are nothing but trouble.

Moans about servicing costs 'to rival Mercedes' are common, while suspension repairs are where most money gets spent.

In the What Car? Reliability index, the car fares badly, although it's basically sound, and only needs increasing amounts spending on it as it ages to keep it running sweetly.

One particular worry is the cambelt, which is recommended for a change after 36,000 miles or four years, whichever arrives sooner. There's a known problem with these breaking, causing major engine damage. It's a wise move to change it as soon as you buy any used 147.

Alfas in the past were often troublesome, but recently the company has worked to throw off its poor reputation. The 147 shows that it's getting better, but it's still some way short of the best.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Poor reliability, high average claims and engine failure - it'll be in the garage often

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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