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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Italian style, good-sized boot, decent cabin space and smooth engines make this one stylish estate.

Against Not as good to drive as rivals, the boot is not the easiest to load, and there are some reliability problems.

Verdict Decent enough, and you'll stand out from the crowd, but rivals' models do the same job far better.

Go for… 1.9 JTD Turismo

Avoid… 3.2 JTS V6 Q4 Lusso

Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon
  • 1. The diesels are a better bet, with superior economy, and healthier resale
  • 2. Every model is well equipped, with the base Turismo fitted with alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, electronic stability control and four electric windows
  • 3. The 1.9-litre diesel manages 47mpg, the 2.4-litre does 40.9mpg. The 1.9-litre petrol can eke out 32.1mpg, but the 1.8-litre beats that with 36.2mpg. The 2.2-litre does 30.4mpg and the 3.2 V6 24.6mpg.
  • 4. The engine's ECU can give up, particularly on the diesel cars, resulting in a total loss of power.
  • 5. Brake problems have also been noted, as have timing belt issues. Check the inside edges of front tyres for excessive wear
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Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon full review with expert trade views

Despite being reasonably accomplished in most areas, the Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon is outclassed by its main rivals, the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class estates. All are better to drive, more refined and more reliable. However, the Alfa's suave styling does set it apart from the crowd.

Cabin space is good, and certainly better than the 156 ('99-'05) it replaced. Two adults can fit in the back, while front passengers aren't left wanting, either. The boot is a good size and shape, although there's a high load lip and the opening is a bit tight.

The 159 Sportwagon drives like the saloon model, with good grip through bends and a decent ride. However, body roll isn't well contained, and it can feel unwieldy on twisty roads. The worst bumps also produce unwanted cabin noise. The steering is accurate, but not the most responsive.

Trade view

Alfa dealers can be one of the biggest drawbacks to owning a 159. Some are helpful and polite when things go wrong, while others couldn't care less. Find a good garage and stick with it.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Finding a 159 Sportwagon with a petrol engine isn't that easy, but that's not such a bad thing. The diesels are a better bet, with superior economy, and healthier resale values. However, if you don't do many miles and the car is at the right price, a petrol model may prove the cheaper option.

The 160bhp 1.9-litre petrol engine is the most sensible option, followed by the 185bhp 2.2-litre, and lastly the 256bhp 3.2 V6. However, in late '07, the 1.9-litre unit was replaced with a 138bhp 1.8 with better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions.

Moving on to the diesels, the 1.9-litre 148bhp is the most common, and the best, while there's also a 200bhp 2.4. Four-wheel-drive is an option on the V6 petrol and larger diesel, but it doesn't substantially enhance the car's dynamics. Automatic gearboxes are available on all models other than the 1.9 and 2.2-litre petrol engines.

Every model is well equipped, with the base Turismo fitted with alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, electronic stability control and four electric windows. Lusso spec gets leather trim and parking sensors.

Trade view

The boot is a good size, but don’t expect it to be the most practical, as there’s a high load lip that hinders getting things in and out, and the boot opening is a bit tight.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Servicing costs are high, and it's certainly worth looking at Alfa Romeo specialist independent garages for servicing on older cars. Alfa doesn't have the best reputation for reliability, so consider taking out an extended or independent warranty when the manufacturer's cover expires.

The 1.9-litre diesel manages 47mpg, while the 2.4-litre does 40.9mpg, or 38.2mpg in four-wheel-drive form. The 1.9-litre petrol can eke out 32.1mpg, but the 1.8-litre beats that with 36.2mpg. The 2.2-litre does 30.4mpg and the 3.2 V6 24.6mpg.

The 1.9-litre diesel has the lowest CO2 figure, so will cost the least to tax, while the 1.9, 2.2 and 3.2-litre petrols all emit over 200g/km, so will be noticeably more expensive. The 1.8-litre petrol and 2.4-litre diesel both pump-out around 180g/km.

Insurance costs are roughly the same as those of rivals, with the 159 classified between groups 12 and 16.

Trade view

Alfa dealers can be one of the biggest drawbacks to owning a 159. Some are helpful and polite when things go wrong, while others couldn't care less. Find a good garage and stick with it.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Alfa Romeo has a reputation for poor reliability, and while the 159 doesn't appear terrible, there are some owners who have experienced problems.

The engine's ECU can give up, particularly on the diesel cars, resulting in a total loss of power. Other electrical gremlins include non-functional cruise control and windscreen wipers.

Brake problems have also been noted, as have timing belt issues. Check the inside edges of front tyres for excessive wear, because the front tracking may need adjusting.

Alfa dealers can be one of the biggest drawbacks to owning a 159. Some are helpful and polite when things go wrong, while others couldn't care less. Find a good garage and stick with it.

Trade view

The boot is a good size, but don’t expect it to be the most practical, as there’s a high load lip that hinders getting things in and out, and the boot opening is a bit tight.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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