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Used Alfa Romeo 166 review: 1999-2009

EXPERT RATING
7
Ewan Kennedy road tests and reviews the used Alfa Romeo 166 1999-2009.

The Alfa Romeo 166 is a luxury sedan, but being Italian it also has a sporting feel, something that's not common in this upmarket field that's usually occupied by conservative machines. For the keen driver that's great news.

Drive the Alfa Romeo 166 moderately and if doesn't feel all that special. You have to get the engine well up in the rev band and put some decent load on the suspension and steering to get the 166 working properly. Only those who love to drive hard and fast should apply for a car like this Italian masterpiece.

While it is a large sedan the Alfa Romeo 166 has a back seat that's restricted for both head and legroom if the occupants are anything over average height. The front seat is fine and there's plenty of interior style and comfort. Try for yourself if you are considering the Alfa for use as a family sedan and you're kids are in their teenage years.

This Alfa is a superb cruiser over long distances, though it's best to keep clear of really bad bush roads as it's not aimed at that sort of driving. 

Australia only gets the top model in the Alfa 166 range, the one with the biggest engine, automatic transmission and a long list of standard equipment. They have leather trim, powered and heated front seats, television, eight-speaker CD stereo and navigation system. It even has rain-sensing windscreen wipers, an automatic headlight-off facility and multiple airbags.

Launched in Australia in August 1999 the Alfa Romeo 166 didn't do particularly well in the sales race. In February 2003, the 166 got a major revamp; with xenon headlights, a woodgrain dashboard and steering wheel and electronic suspension systems. This improved sales somewhat, but it still wasn't the success the importers had wished for.

Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), designed to enhance safety without overly reducing driving pleasure, was part of the 2003 upgrade. For example, it can spin both front wheels simultaneously for a quick departure; ah, yes the Italians had it all sussed out, even back then.

Alfa Romeo 166 is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 engine similar to the one installed in the Alfa GTV V6 coupe. For the sedan, it has been retuned to suit the needs of luxury car buyers, meaning more torque over a wider rev range, at the expensive of some of the delicious thrill at the top end of the rev band that you get in the GTV. 

With a lovely piece of Italian flair the Alfa 166's engine develops a neat 166 kW. Or at least it did until the 2004 model update, when it managed to lose four kilowatts, probably due to the then-new Euro emission regulations.

Transmission is by a four-speed adaptive automatic with a tiptronic-type function that Alfa Romeo calls Sportronic.

Alfa quality control has improved out of sight in the past decade, but you may still find annoying little niggles in the cars from time to time. Do what the owners of these thoroughbreds have done for years; call it character, then remember the sheer driving pleasure the car gives you, and you should be able to ignore any silly little problems.

After a hiatus of several years Alfa Romeo has been back on the Australian market since 1999. Since 2013 it has been controlled by the Italian head office, previously it had been managed by an Australian importer, Ateco. The change has resulted in price cuts and an expansion in the number of dealers.

The majority of Alfa dealers are in metropolitan areas. If you are living in the country and hankering after a bit if Italian automotive passion in your life it makes a lot of sense to find a specialist Italian car mechanic, ideally before you buy the car.

Servicing and repairs are about average in cost for a car in this class. The home handyperson should be able to tackle some minor work (always have a workshop manual close handy), but major work, or anything connected with safety, should be left to the professional.

There seems to be a bigger than average spread of insurance charges, so it's well worth shopping around. Always remember, though, that insurance companies put a lot of emphasis on buyer loyalty if the time comes to make a claim or give a good deal on a no-claim bonus.

The Alfa Romeo 166 was taken from the Australian market at the end of its life in 2009 and hasn't been replaced by later model at this stage.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

The engine should start quickly and immediately idle smoothly. It should not smoke from the exhaust tailpipe under hard acceleration.

Automatic transmissions that are slow to go into gear, that change gears unnecessarily or that don't respond to manual input properly, should be treated with suspicion.

The steering wheel should be in a vertical position when the front wheels are pointing straight ahead. If not, there could be an alignment problem.

Run your hand across the front tyre treads in both directions; the resistance should be much the same in both directions. If not there is uneven tyre wear, and you should have a professional find out why.
 
During your road test the steering should react virtually immediately and the big Alfa should not pull to either side under hard braking.

Check carefully for signs of previous crash damage or previous repairs. Look for paint spots on non-painted areas like the window rubbers and lights. Ripples in the panels when viewed along their length are easy to spot, but the stronger the light the easier it is to see them. Watch out for slightly mismatched paint colours from one panel to another. 

Check for an interior that has been knocked around and/or which has suffered by the car being kept out of doors all the time.

CAR BUYING TIP

It's false economy not to call a professional car examiner before making the final decision on a used-car purchase.

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
2009 $7,260 $10,230
2008 $7,150 $10,120
2007 $6,600 $9,350
2006 $6,600 $9,350
2005 $6,600 $9,350
2004 $6,600 $9,350
2003 $6,270 $9,350
2002 $6,270 $8,800
2001 $5,940 $8,800
2000 $5,940 $8,360
1999 $5,830 $8,250

View all Alfa Romeo 166 pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

$7,040
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$5,830
Highest Price
$8,250

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.0 V6 3.0L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $5,830 – 8,250 1999 Alfa Romeo 166 1999 3.0 V6 Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7

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