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Alfa Romeo 147 Ti 3 Door 2006 review

European makers are leading the way in offering diesel-engine alternatives to their petrol models.

European makers are leading the way in offering diesel-engine alternatives to their petrol models. And that surely suggests something: that diesel cars are no longer to be thought of as sluggish, noisy, black-smoke blowing, rough diamonds.

European cars are generally known for their driving pleasure and performance, plus their safety. In Europe, diesel-engine cars in many sectors outsell their petrol twins such is the difference in the cost of the fuel and the very big gains made in distance per litre with diesel. Few people realise that the modern diesel has lower CO2 emissions than the petrol engine in the same car – in the Alfa Romeo 147 about 25 per cent less from the diesel.

Diesel engine versions are offered in many, many models from baby cars, through family sedans, to the large luxury saloons; even sports cars and convertibles. Which brings us back to the Alfa Romeo 147 in which I had time enjoying the petrol-engine model with Ti pack, which makes it slightly sportier, and then straight into the diesel version.

To make the choice even harder they are both priced at $39,990 in manual form.

Alfa Romeo 147 manual starts at $35,990 but the Ti pack adds $4000 and gives 17in alloy wheels, leather trim, rear spoiler, sports suspension and better brake pads.

The Ti pack is available only on the three-door. The diesel comes only in the five-door but looks like a three-door thanks to its rear door handles cleverly camouflaged into the C-pillar. In another close parallel, the diesel and the petrol engine each put out 110kW of power. However, on first driving the diesel one gets the impression it's not as sprightly as the petrol. It's a matter of getting used to the engine characteristics. The diesel, of course, helped by its turbocharger, punches out a lot more torque and that translates into very good roll-on acceleration.

Here are Alfa Romeo's figures: the 1970cc petrol four-cylinder gives 110kW power at 6300rpm and 181Nm of torque at 3800rpm. The 1910cc four-cylinder diesel produces 110kW power at 4000rpm and 305Nm of torque at a low 2000rpm. Both are front-wheel-drive hatchbacks.

Factory figures show 0-100km/h in 9.3 seconds in the petrol five-speed manual; but an even better 8.8 seconds in the diesel which has the benefit of a six-speed manual.

A semi-automatic Selespeed transmission is a $2000 option on the petrol but the diesel comes only with the manual. Both manual gearboxes change well with good clutch feel, although fifth to sixth in the diesel ended in fourth gear too many times for me.

The Ti with its tighter suspension is the thing for driving on roads that are like go-kart racetracks as it eats up tight and twisty corners. The diesel makes more sense in thick traffic when fuel efficiency is really tested and on the open road where you can get into sixth gear and run on the smell of an oily rag.

The petrol sat at 3200rpm at 110km/h in fifth gear and preferred to be above 3000rpm for performance time. The diesel in its sixth gear needed a shade under 2000rpm at 110km/h. Around town it was happy in fifth gear at 60km/h – at 1400rpm.

Alfa Romeo says the petrol version recorded a good 8.9 litres/100km on the Australian fuel test and the diesel an excellent 5.9 litres/100km. Our drive in the diesel, which included a fair bit of twisty hills roads, gave 6.1 litres/100km.

Alfa Romeo 147 is a small car (slightly inside an Astra in dimensions) and so is easy to park. It has a tight boot space. But it's well equipped with ABS, stability control called VDC and traction control called ASR, automatic dual-zone climate control, airbags and side curtains plus cruise control. Not bad for 40 grand,

So the $40,000 answer: It's the Ti petrol 147 for life on twisty Hills roads with no traffic and the turbo-diesel for commuting (if you don't mind manual) and country roads.


Alfa Romeo 147 Ti three-door petrol (and five-door JTD diesel)

Price: $39,990 ($39,990)
Engine: 1970cc, dohc, four-cylinder (1910cc, dohc, four-cylinder turbocharged)
Power: 110kW @ 6300rpm (110kW @ 4000rpm)
Torque: 181Nm @ 3800rpm (305Nm @ 2000rpm)
Transmission: Front-wheel-drive, five-speed manual and five-speed Selespeed a $2000 option (FWD, six-speed manual, no Selespeed)
Brakes: Front ventilated discs, rear solid discs, ABS (same)
Wheels/tyres: 17in alloy with 215/45 tyres, space-saver spare (same)
Dimensions: 4223mm long, 1729mm wide, 2546mm wheelbase, 60-litre fuel tank (same)
Weight: 1250kg (1310kg)
Fuel use: Australian research test – 8.9 litres/100km (5.9 litres/100km)

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

2.0 Twin Spark 2.0L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $2,600 – 4,510 2006 Alfa Romeo 147 2006 2.0 Twin Spark Pricing and Specs
GTA 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $4,500 – 7,260 2006 Alfa Romeo 147 2006 GTA Pricing and Specs
GTA Selespeed 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP $5,000 – 7,700 2006 Alfa Romeo 147 2006 GTA Selespeed Pricing and Specs
JTD 1.9L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $2,800 – 4,840 2006 Alfa Romeo 147 2006 JTD Pricing and Specs