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Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon (2000 - 2006)

BUFF THE MAGIC WAGON (some text hidden)


Introductionword count: 34

The Alfa Romeo 156 was the car that finally upset German dominance in the compact executive saloon sector. An Alfa you could buy with real confidence new, it makes just as much sense used.

Modelsword count: 12

Models Covered: [1.6, 1.8, 1.9JTD, 2.0, 2.0 SELESPEED, 2.4 JTD, 2.5 V6])

Historyword count: 218

The 156 Sportwagon came from very good stock. An elegantly extended version of the car that won the European Car of the Year award, its credentials were already well founded by the time it made UK landfall in July 2000. What was perhaps a little less expected was quite how well integrated the conversion from saloon to sporting estate would prove to be. In fact, many hold the Sportwagon to be a better proportioned car than even the handsome saloon. At the time of launch, there was a choice of 1.6, 1.8, 2.0-litre Twinspark (with a choice of Selespeed sequential transmission) and 2.5 V6 which was also offered with the Q-system automatic transmission. Diesel buyers got a 2.4-litre JTD engine. Range designations were revised in 2001, with the Turismo becoming the entry-level car. The much-loved 2.0-litre Twinspark engine was retired in early 2002, replaced by the 2.0-litre JTS unit, a 165bhp direct injection technofest. At the same time, the 156's interior was given a mild makeover and 250bhp GTA versions of the saloon and Sportwagon were launched. Early 2003 saw the introduction of a budget 115bhp JTD diesel, sold alongside the existing 150bhp 2.4 JTD. The 159 arrived in February 2006 with the Sportwagon hitting the showrooms a little later, that spelt the end for these 156 models.

What You Getword count: 334

This five-door version of the classy 156 saloon is theoretically an estate, though in practice, there's less luggage room inside than your average family hatchback. Actually, there's even less space in the boot than there is in the four-door model. But that isn't the point. Buy something else if you want to transport a sofa or a grandfather clock. Buy this if you still want to enjoy getting from A to B via X and Y with a small backroad detour through Z. The other 'lifestyle' estates which the 156 Sportwagon went up against all claimed to do this but none really do. BMW's 3 Series Touring, Audi's A4 Avant and Volvo's V40 are all stylish cars but they don't really make you feel young again behind the wheel. And what's worse, though slightly more spacious, they can't carry a grandfather clock either. Not that this Alfa is entirely without practical merit. What boot space there is (360 litres) is easily accessible via an unexpectedly large hatch aperture, though unfortunately, there's a lip over which heavy items must be lifted. The rear 60:40 split rear seat folding mechanism is user-friendly though. You simply pull a strap to lift the seat bases, enabling the backs to drop down and create a completely flat loading area of 1,180 litres. In the estate compartment, the floor panel covering the spare wheel is reversible and can be flipped over to reveal a practical, if rather shallow, waterproof tray that will keep muddy dogs - or muddy boots - from soiling the smart carpets. This is an idea that was shamelessly copied from Nissan's Primera Estate and has since popped up in all manner of other vehicles. A couple of smaller drawers are built into the sides of the boot area and plusher Sportwagons can accommodate longer items via a ski hatch built into the back seat. Sadly, the self-levelling suspension system (which would be so useful on those occasions you really want to carry heavy loads) was optional.

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Category: Spacious Family Cars

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This is an excerpt from our full review.
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