Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Brush Up Your Italian

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Brush Up Your Italian

Article excerpt

Byline: EWAN KENNEDY

THOUGH it's simply a mid-sized family car, the Alfa Romeo 156 hails from Italy, so it's no surprise that it has plenty of verve in its design, looks and in its superb chassis dynamics.

Despite looking like a swoopy two-door coupe, the Alfa 156 has the four doors. The back doors are so well hidden many don't realise they are there.

Indeed, we once had the experience of someone trying to get into the back of a 156 we were reviewing by squeezing in by way of the front doors. The rear door handles are disguised as air extractor vents, hence the easy-to-make mistake.

Once you've located the door handles, it's reasonably easy to get into the back seat of the Alfa Romeo 156, however, it's not one of the biggest, and is probably best left for children.

The boot is also on the small side for a family car. The station wagon's load area is a bit of a joke if you regard it as being a full wagon, but makes more sense if you think of it as a coupe with an extended load area.

Handling is what Italian cars is all about and the Alfa Romeo 156 doesn't disappoint. It has a willingness to turn into a corner and once in there it has tenacious road grip. Steering is prompt and sharp and what is allegedly a mid-size family car communicates to the driver as though it's a sports machine.

Few family sedans cry out to be taken for a run on your favourite bit of road early of a Sunday morning, but this Alfa Romeo just loves that sort of treatment, so we recommend it highly.

The Alfa 156 first arrived in Australia in February 1999 in sedan format; the station wagon was introduced in August 2000. In October 2003 the Alfa 156 got a major facelift that saw the traditional Alfa shield grille become considerably larger, sitting right down into the bumper.

The tail was beefed out and a bit more brightwork added to the body. …

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