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Alfa Romeo 166 2005 review


Sleek, purposeful and clearly Italian, the Alfa 166 is the flagship model and sits in the expensive sector of the market.

At $85,000, the 166 competes with a heavyweight list of more established prestige cars, among then Audi's new A6, BMW's latest 3-series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Volvo's S80 and even gets into the Jaguar S-Type territory.

Esteemed company, indeed.

Yet maybe this isn't a fair comparison. The 166, you see, is a car for the enthusiast. Someone who may have had a long history of Alfa ownership and now wants a bit of luxury to go with the distinctive growl of the Alfa exhaust note.

The more you drive this car, the more it becomes addictive. It is quick, smooth, comfortable and roomy. And it barks, growls and, when kicked, roars. A Chesterfield armchair with fangs.

It also received a lot of attention, despite the colour being a rather subdued metallic grey.

While the car looks like a new model, it's not much different from its predecessor.

Alfa has fitted the 166 with the family grille, so the shield emblem runs deep to split the bumper.

But the scalloped flanks and long, swooping bonnet remain, as do the slinky side windows that narrow to a dart before disappearing over the bobbed tail.

More noticeable is a commitment by Alfa to mute any body or mechanical coarseness, bringing the Italian into line with its competitors.

And it works.

The 166 is a quieter, smoother and more comfortable ride than before. But Alfa has deliberately left its sporting soul untouched, relayed to the driver through the heart-warming exhaust note and the seemingly endless and silky power delivery.

It comes with a proper automatic gearbox with a manual sequential mode for those who want to pretend this is a more raw model.

I say "proper" because the box isn't a clutchless manual like the Selespeed unit fitted to most other new Alfas.

Though there are only four cogs — rivals have five, six and even an optional seven-speed auto boxes — the performance is brisk. You wouldn't want to go much faster, though I guess the size of a box may be a selling point.

It will come as no surprise that this luxury model also enjoys a bit of a fang.

Even its front-drive layout and the bulk of the three-litre V6 under the nose fails to dilute its precise cornering and grip.

All this is relayed with precision via a leather-rimmed steering wheel that would look at home in the company's fiery 147GTA hatch.

Occupants sit in leather chairs with plenty of leg and head room.

Listening to Vivaldi, no doubt, on the CD player that is monitored by a wide LCD screen. The screen, incidentally, also operates the climate dual-zone airconditioning, telephone, satellite navigation and trip computer.

Which told me I averaged 12.2 litres/100km and that was more than satisfactory given, as Alfa would have wished, it was driven with gusto.

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Range and Specs

(base) 3.0L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $6,600 – 9,350 2005 Alfa Romeo 166 2005 (base) Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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