Alfa’s curves impress

Alfa’s curves impress

Mention the words Alfa Romeo, and it conjures up visions of stunning looks, sporty handling and general all-over Italian flair. With the 147, Alfa Romeo has done it again. The Alfa Romeo 147 is a beautiful vehicle to look at, and has been very cleverly designed so that both the three-door and five-door versions of this hatchback look almost the same. To say that the lines and curves on the Alfa Romeo 147 are easy on the eye is an understatement: it is a beautiful piece of design.

Following the success of the beautiful Alfa 156, the 147 was launched in 2000. It didn’t take long for the 147 to have a mantelpiece full of motoring accolades, including European car of the year in 2001. The current model is the second generation of 147, with Alfa doing well to capitalise on the increased interest in the upmarket hatchback market. Rivals like the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and Mercedes Benz A-Class dominate here, so the Alfa 147 has had a tough job, even with its striking looks and decent pricing.

The second generation has had some styling revisions which include an all new front end with a broader grille and fresh panels, while the interior has higher quality materials and minor changes to the instruments. The suspension has been re-engineered, too, improving the ride.

The visual changes are all good: the 147 is now even better looking from the outside and also offers an individual interior. The whole car feels rock solid too and drive is great. Grip and handling are typically Alfa, hugging the road and cornering with ease. The steering rack is quick though and can take some getting used to.

Surprisingly, the smallest Alfa is still powered by a 2.0-litre TWIN SPARK (two spark plugs per cylinder) engine or a 1.9 litre turbo diesel. It had been anticipated that the more modern JTS engine, as seen in the Alfa Romeo 156, would have been adapted to the 147, maybe one day, but there are no plans within the current model’s future for this engine. Still, both are magical engines outputting 110 kW of power with the diesel outputting a hefty 305Nm of torque.

The petrol is available in both a 5-speed manual and the 5-speed Selespeed, the latter, a gearbox that I am not a big fan of. The diesel comes standard with a 6-speed manual. The gear change is not as slick as on the German cars, but the 2.0-litre delivers decent pace. The JTD diesels are extremely sophisticated units and once you are used to the idea of diesel Alfa, they are arguably the best choice. Space is fair, no more, but comfort levels are high and there’s a good equipment list.

The three door petrol manual is priced at $35,990 and the list of standard features is endless and includes 8 airbags, ESP, ABS, 8 speakers audio, to name just a few, making it, in my opinion, great value for money. If you haven’t driven an Alfa, take one of these for a spin, you’ll love it.

FOR -“ great Italian design and flair.

AGAINST -“ dreadful turning circle

PRICE – $39,990-$40,490

ENGINES -“ 2.0 litre petrol, 1.9 litre turbo diesel

TRANSMISSION -“ 5-speed manual and Selespeed, 6-speed manual

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