Long-term update: Our Alfa Romeo 156 meets its relatives

Long-term update: Our Alfa Romeo 156 meets its relatives

Alfa Romeo 155 156 159 in the UAE 2

Some time ago, our time-share 2003 Alfa Romeo found the strength to get its behind moving and meet up with its relatives, both new and old.

We’ve featured grease-monkey Rahul Jones’s 1996 Alfa Romeo 155 V6 on these pages before. The 155 debuted in 1992, significant in the fact that this front-wheel-drive compact sedan replaced the rear-wheel-drive Alfa Romeo 75, the latter being the last model to come out of Alfa before it was taken over by Fiat.

Alfa Romeo 155 156 159 in the UAE 4

This 1996 example is powered by a 164 hp 2.5-litre V6 mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. Aside from a number of 4-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, there was an all-wheel-drive model with the drivetrain from a Lancia Delta Integrale.

It is the last of the squared-off styled Alfas before the company took a dramatic turn with the jellybean Alfa Romeo 156 in 1996, although 155 production continued till 1998 with less than 193,000 built.

The Alfa Romeo 156 debuted to much fanfare, winning multiple awards in Europe for its style and drive, as well as its improved refinement over its predecessor. Over the years, it went through two facelifts — a minor one in 2002 and then a major front-end one sometime in 2003. Our car is the first facelifted one, which mostly involved simple changes such as black exterior trim painted to body-colour, aside from unseen mechanical improvements.

Alfa Romeo 155 156 159 in the UAE

Also front-wheel-drive, our 2003 car is powered by a 190 hp 2.5-litre V6 mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. Also offered with a range of 4-cylinder petrol and diesel engines with optional Selespeed auto-manual gearboxes, there was a sporting GTA model with a bigger V6, stiffer suspension and a body kit.

Production lasted all the way till 2005 with a whopping 680,000 built, although the stunning styling holds up well to this day.

The 156 was replaced by the 159 in 2006, which was the beginning of the end for Alfa’s front-wheel-drive compact sedans. The new model shifted to a GM/Fiat co-developed platform, while growing in size and weight. It attempted to compete with rear-wheel-drive Germans by improving the power, interior materials and ride comfort. Designed in collaboration with Giugiaro, it also tried to appeal to the American market with more chiselled styling and an overall larger size, except that it never debuted there after all.

Alfa Romeo 155 156 159 in the UAE 3

The attractive red 159 seen here belongs to a member of the local Alfa Romeo Owners Club, and is powered by a 260 hp 3.2-litre GM-derived V6 mated to a 6-speed automatic. Again, a range of 4-cylinder petrol and diesel engines were offered in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive forms, but there was no GTA version this time. Production ended in 2011, with only 240,000 built and some cars remaining on dealer lots for the next couple of years, such as this “2012” model.

For about half a decade after that, there was no compact sedan in Alfa’s line-up, with their main offering being the Mito and Giulietta hatchbacks. The Giulia will fill that gap this year, as a rear-wheel-drive competitor to the Germans who are contemplating moving to front-wheel-drive platforms. How things change.

Coming back to our car, we sold it some time ago, which is why we haven’t been posting anything about it for a while now. We will be writing up a wrap-up story for it soon.

Original Mileage When Bought: 250,010 km
Latest Mileage To Date: 265,500 km
Latest Average Fuel Economy: 10.5 litres/100 km
Cost of Latest Problems: Dhs 0
Cost of Latest Maintenance: Dhs 0

Total Non-Fuel Running Cost Since Bought: Dhs 0

Read all 2003 Alfa Romeo 156 long-term updates

What do you think?



  1. dream car saloon…. alfa romeo’s looks and design + Toyota camry;s engine and transmisson

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