Alfa Romeo 166 Saloon 1999-2004

Alfa Romeo 166 Saloon 1999-2004

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • Excellent as a long distance cruiser
  • Handsome and interesting styling


  • Not very reliable
  • No diesel engines in the range


The Alfa Romeo 166 is an interesting substitute to its more expensive German rivals as it stands out from the crowd with its sleek alternative styling, sporty sounding engine and with enough room to easily fit the whole family in, it is a good valued and attractive alternative. The Alfa 166 has not retained its value very well with it being worth less than 50% of its original price a year later and less than 25% after four. This does however make for some excellent deals when buying second hand.

Exterior and Interior

The build quality of the car is not as robust as its German rivals Audi, BMW and Mercedes with the interiors being sturdy in appearance but with there being the occasional squeak and rattle. The rear seats are spacious with enough room for three adults to sit comfortably. However the rear seats do not fold down or split negating the option of increasing the boot space. However in most cases this wouldn"t be needed as there is decent luggage space with the boot holding 490 litres. There are many types of equipment in every model in the range comes with a wide array of equipment with the base level Turismo trim, having heated door mirrors, twin front and side airbags, climate control, rear and front electric windows, traction control and alloy wheels. The Lusso trim, the next level up, has electrically adjustable heated leather seats, while the V6 cars come with full dynamic stability control.

Performance and Economy

The 2.0-litre engine gives the overall best performance but lacks sufficient power for pulling the car at low revs, but at high cruising speeds, this is not noticeable. The two V6 engines, the 2.5-litre 188bhp and the 3.0-litre 220bhp also aren"t that impressive as the front wheels struggle to cope with the additional power. The most economical car in the 166 range is the 2.0-litre, Twin Spark giving low power at low revs, but which becomes unnoticeable at high speeds. The running costs of the 2.0-litre Twin Spark is by far the lowest, returning 29 miles per gallon (mpg). The 2.5-litre V6"s fuel economy drops down to 23.7mpg and has a higher insurance rating of 16. For the 3.0-litre V6 the fuel economy drops even further to 22.6mpg, and falls into insurance category 17.

Like to Drive

The body control of the car is good, with a lot of feeling in the steering which is precise and nicely weighted making the ride supple and smooth. The car is firmly planted to ground with superb grip even in the turns and quick corners. The handling of the car is also very agile despite the size of it. Riding on the rough surfaces can feel harsh but the face-lifted versions of 2003 come with better suspension which has slightly reduced the problem. There are lot of seat adjustments for the driver to choose from, but they may get annoyed by the offset pedals. The 166 is a superb car for cruising, and the rumble coming from the engine is exquisite.

Faults and Repairs

The main faults with the 166 tend to be with the suspension and transmission. The reliability of the 166 cars is not high as has been documented on reliability surveys that have been carried out. When looking at buying a second hand vehicle one should look at the tires to look for uneven wear which would indicate any problems with the suspension. There have also been a few reports of problems with the climate control system in some cars. The labour charges, as with all Alfa are relatively costly. If you go to an independent Alfa specialist you may get a reduction of 25% when compared to a franchised dealership.