Alfa 147 AA test PDF

Car test
R0160
November 2001
Alfa Romeo 147
AT A GLANCE
Overtaking ability
Space/practicality
Controls/displays
Safety
Handling/steering
Comfort
Fuel economy
SPECIFICATION
engine 1970cc, 4-cylinder, petrol; 150bhp
at 6300rpm, 134 lb ft at 3800rpm; belt-
driven twin overhead camshafts, 16
valves, variable valve timing
transmission 5-speed manual, front-
wheel drive; 20.2mph/1000rpm in 5th,
16.0 in 4th (same on 2.0 Selespeed)
suspension front: independent double
wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar.
Rear: independent, integral coil spring/
damper struts, lateral/longitudinal links,
anti-roll bar
steering hydraulic power assistance;
2.3 turns lock-to-lock; 11.3m diameter
turning circle between kerbs (12.6m for
one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs
rear with standard anti-lock and brake
force distribution controls
wheels/tyres 6in alloy with 205/55ZR16
tyres (Goodyear Eagle F1 on test car);
space-saver spare
LIKES ...
alloy (front) + where are they? (rear)
external door handles
prestigious fit-and-feel throughout
dual-zone heating/diffuse face-level air
and GRIPES
smallish boot/high sill to load over
key/remote-only opening of tailgate
cabin a bit sombre in dark colours
third headrest/3-pt seatbelt costs extra
THE 147 RANGE
size and type lower-medium (premium-
priced) three- and five-door hatchback
trim levels Turismo, Lusso
engines petrol: 4 cylinder/1.6 litre/120bhp,
4/2.0/150; diesel: none
drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual;
(5-speed sequential manual shift with
auto mode and wheel-mounted shift
buttons on 2.0 Selespeed)
more facts and figures
T
HERE?S ALWAYS SOMETHING
special about an Alfa, and the
rounded, retro-look 147 is no
exception.
Cloaking a brace of three-door (plus
recently added five-door) hatchbacks
beneath its highly individual, cute coup
looks, it?s Fiat Group?s contender in the
prestige hatchback sector, epitomised by
the likes of the Audi A3 and BMW?s
3-Series Compact.
With the distinctive ?inverted-T? intakes
on its nose, evocative of Alfas from a
bygone era, the 147 draws its power from
a pair of 16-valve, Twin Spark power units
(so named for having twice the usual tally
of spark plugs for each cylinder) ? a
120bhp 1.6-litre unit or this 150bhp
two-litre, complete with ?drive-by-wire?
throttle, variable valve timing and
induction geometry, plus a pair of
counter-spinning balancer shafts.
And what a beauty it is, too. Blessed with
an ample herd of horses under the bonnet, it
lifts the 147?s game well above mere Focus
and Astra territory. It does like to be revved,
and is a shade less sweet than its 1.6
stablemate at the other end of the scale.
However, this is anything but a hardship,
thanks to its immediate (yet progressive)
throttle action, great gearshift and, not least
of all, the lovely noises it makes ? even
when spun to the dizzy 6750rpm required
for peak acceleration. Bellissimo!
It?s a fine driving position, too, with not a
vestige of the ape-like (long arm/short leg)
driving positions we suffered in Alfas of old.
There?s a ratcheting seat-height setting lever
and ?pitch-and-plunge? wheel adjustment to
fine-tune your favourite spot at the wheel.
Befitting its pedigree, the 147 rides in a
sportingly solid, yet impressively
compliant and largely fidget-free manner,
aided by Alfa?s now-traditional super-
quick (but not over-sensitive) steering. For
some reason, though, this seems a shade
less rewarding than we recall of the 156?s
similar set-up.
Despite its stylish, coup-like looks, even
the three-door is a ?proper? four- to
five-seater (albeit a little ?cosier? in the back
than up front), but the five-door?s
wide-opening, cunningly concealed rear
doors make getting there significantly easier.
Load space isn?t over-generous, with a
lofty sill to lug weighty items over, but the
boot area is nicely trimmed (with neat touches
such as a practical, wipe-down surface on
the flip-side of the floor/spare-wheel cover),
while the 60/40-split rear backrests and
cushions fold to yield a flat, extended load
deck when required.
VERDICT
Sporty and seductive (like so many from
this stable) the distinctive 147 appeals to
the heart as much as the head. Even in
two-litre form, it?s not especially swift,
thrifty or spacious, and the crash-safety
shortfall is disappointing. It improves on
the enhanced build quality begun with
the 156, yet remains every inch an Alfa.
And you either know what that means or
you don?t care!
Featured model: 2.0 Twin Spark Lusso 5-door