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Used Alfa Romeo 147 review: 2003-2006

A thoroughly engaging car to drive but best left to the believers.

It was clear that the 147 was different from the rest the moment you slipped into the driver's seat.

The seat was heavily contoured for support, it had long cushions for extra support under the legs, the gearshift fell easily to hand and there was a sporty feel to the dash and controls. Once you hit the road the responsive engine and the nimble chassis came into play in a most rewarding way. In short the 147 was a fun car to drive. It was also an attractive one with its distinctive Alfa grille, bonnet and headlamps, and nicely sculpted flanks. The high flanks, thick pillars and large centre headrest in the rear did, however, make rear vision a problem.

There were three and five-door hatch body styles; the five-door was the more practical with better access to the cabin. The main engine was a 2.0-litre Twin Spark four-cylinder that gave it plenty of zip. It was available with a five-speed manual gearbox or a five-speed clutchless automated manual shift Selespeed 'box. The hotshot GTA was released in 2003 and it was powered by a 3.2- litre V6 and the choice of six-speed manual or six-speed Selespeed gearboxes. The downside was fuel economy.

For economy Alfa added a 2.0-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder in 2006.

IN THE SHOP

Older Alfas developed such an awful reputation for reliability, rust and resale that current models like the 147 are still viewed with suspicion. Today's models are better built and more reliable, but they must still be checked thoroughly, preferably by an Alfa expert. Engine, transmission and cooling system leaks are common, and brake pads and rotors wear at a high rate. The cam-timing belt on the 2.0-litre must be changed at the recommended 3-year/60,000 km intervals, there's a real risk of internal engine damage should a belt break. The diesel belt must be changed at 5-year/150,000 km intervals. Thoroughly test-drive the Selespeed transmission to assess its operation, walk away if there's any indication that all is not well as repairs can be expensive. The manual is a much better buy from cost and driver enjoyment perspectives. Maintenance is crucial so check for a service history

IN A CRASH

Even the base model had dual front airbags and side airbags in 2001; it also had the important safety feature of electronic stability control. But when tested by ANCAP it was only given a disappointing 3-star rating.

UNDER THE PUMP

The 2.0-litre Twin Spark manual returns an average of 7.2L/100km, when linked to the Selespeed it consumes about a litre more. The 3.2-litre GTA hot shot is the fuel guzzler of the range with an average claimed consumption of 12.1L/100km, while the diesel is the fuel miser with an average of 5.9L/100km.

SPECS

Price new: $38,500 to $41,500
Engines: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol, 110 kW/181 Nm; 3.2-litre V6 petrol, 184 kW/300 Nm; 2.0-litre turbo diesel, 110 kW/305 Nm
Transmissions: 5-speed manual, 5-speed Selespeed, 6-speed manual, 6- speed Selespeed
Economy: 7.2 L/100 km (Twin Spark), 7.8 L/100 km (Selespeed), 12.1 L/ 100 km (GTA), 5.9 L/100 km (JTD)
Body: 3-door hatch, 5-door hatch
Variants: Twin Spark, Selespeed, GTA, JTD
Safety: 3-star ANCAP

VERDICT

Thoroughly engaging car to drive but best left to the believers.

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
2006 $2,600 $7,700
2005 $2,400 $7,700
2004 $2,400 $7,700
2003 $2,400 $7,260

View all Alfa Romeo 147 pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

$4,830
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$2,400
Highest Price
$7,260

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
2.0 Twin Spark 2.0L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $2,400 – 4,070 2003 Alfa Romeo 147 2003 2.0 Twin Spark Pricing and Specs
GTA 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $4,500 – 7,260 2003 Alfa Romeo 147 2003 GTA Pricing and Specs
Selespeed 2.0L, PULP, 5 SP $2,400 – 4,070 2003 Alfa Romeo 147 2003 Selespeed Pricing and Specs
Ti 2.0L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $2,800 – 4,840 2003 Alfa Romeo 147 2003 Ti Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist

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