Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good When the 147 arrived Down Under in August 2001, it was rightfully praised for its beautiful design. Thankfully, the mid life facelift (arriving here in mid 2005) didn’t mess with the successful formula. The bigger and more prominent Alfa shield grille, the sexy elongated headlights and the updated tail light design all work. Even now, towards the end of the vehicles life, it thankfully still looks great.
Not so good 2001 was a long time ago in car years – under the skin the 147 is definitely aging. It will shortly be replaced in Australia by the new Giulietta.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good The great looks continue inside. The circular air-vents look classy and the dash is finished in premium soft touch rubbery plastic. The seats are supportive and comfortable, the sexy three-spoke steering wheel is great to hold and the steering column adjusts for rake (up and down) and reach (in and out). Unlike Italian cars of old, the pedals and gearlever are now also sensibly positioned. The rear bench split folds (60/40) to create a space large enough space to carry a mountain bike inside.
Not so good The audio buttons are fiddly and the cruise control stalk is inconveniently positioned. Head room up front is limited for those over 6 foot tall and in the rear legroom is lacking for adults. The rear bench seat backrest is also quite upright = not the best place to spend long periods of time in and the boot is on the small side (280 litres) for a small segment sized player.
Performance

Performance

Good Two engine on offer, both four cylinder. The 2.0L Petrol engine produces 110kW of power and 181kW of torque and is available with a five speed manual or a six speed sequential automatic gearbox. The 1.9L Diesel JTD grade is available solely with a six speed manual. This engine also generates 110kW of power; however torque is significantly higher at 305Nm. The classic Twin Spark petrol engine sounds great (especially down low), has sufficient ‘oomph’ from low revs, and whilst it’s no spring chicken (it’s been around for years now) it’s still an enjoyable power plant to rev, remaining nice and smooth through its mid range. The JTD turbo diesel is at its best below 4,500rpms (as with most diesel engines). With the torque on offer it has plenty of go from 2,000 revs and takes off from the lights with muscular ease. Fuel economy is also frugal at 5.9L per 100kms (official combined fuel figure).
Not so good We shouldn’t be too surprised, but still wish the JTD grade didn’t sound so tractor like – as the classic sound of an Alfa Romeo is something the Tifosi are rightfully proud of. The JTD’s six speed manual gearing can also feel excessively tall for Australian conditions.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good A competent handling small car. Over less than rough surfaces, the 147 rides comfortably and emits low levels of noise into the cabin. The steering is well weighted, direct and offers good feedback. Handling grip is fine, no doubt helped by the standard low profile 17 inch tyres.
Not so good This is an aging car so no surprise it dynamics are no longer near the class leaders. Sharp bumps and rough roads = an unsettled feeling 147, it's a step behind the rear wheel drive BMW 1-Series and also the impressive Volkswagen Golf. The JTD (diesel) grade also suffers a little from torque-steer, most noticeable from abrupt takeoff in the wet.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good Ticks the safety box with standard dual front, side and front & rear curtain airbags (so six in total) as well as Anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brake Distribution, Electronic Stability Control and Traction control. The 147 could well become a future classic thanks to the elegant styling.
Not so good At the end of its life cycle so expect higher depreciation. Whilst Alfa Romeo build quality is better than previously, don’t think it yet matches a Lexus.