If you wanted a stress-free life, chances are you wouldn't think of buying a used Alfa Romeo. What's more, we're not about to pull any punches. If you want peerless reliability, don't buy this car. Look for a Toyota Avensis instead.
You won't get much of a buzz when you throw your curtains open in the morning and see it sitting on your drive, but you can guarantee it'll get you where you want to go. That brings with it a certain freedom. But if you believe that doing what you like is freedom and liking what you do is happiness, then if you want a sporty, medium range saloon, it could be that you'll only really be happy when you see the twin lights and badge of an Alfa 159 looking back at you, writes Jonathan Crouch.
It's a car that has charisma when so many of its rivals are dulled-down boxes. Alfa Romeo might have quietly improved its reliability record and climbed inexorably up customer satisfaction scales but the 159 ably demonstrates that it's done this without sacrificing an ounce of character. Rather criminally, it's not made any more, so here's a guide to picking up the best used example you can find. One advantage of the 156's long lifespan was that Alfa could well and truly iron out its faults. The company wisely carried over certain mechanical parts to the 159 and as such, it has had a refreshing lack of teething issues. These late model year cars are even more reliable than the launch models, the problems with the driver information system and ventilation having been well and truly excised. Look at front tyre wear as small tracking errors can generate severe wear rates, especially with the diesels. It's something you should make sure you have looked at every time you go for an MoT. Alfa dealers once had a rather patchy reputation but some serious investment is starting to pay dividends with regards to service quality.
The Alfa Romeo 159 is best judged as a qualified success. It never really kicked on from the massively popular 156 in quite the way Alfa would have hoped, but at the same time, it bolstered the company's reputation for quality and held its own in a tough market before finally succumbing. The post-2010 late model cars we've been looking at here with their better quality interiors and higher equipment counts are the ones to go for and although the diesels are probably the more sensible buy, it's impossible not to recommend the 1750cc petrol engine in sporty TI trim. In black. You've got your old age in which to practice being sensible. The Alfa 159 is the car that whispers in your ear, 'You know all those things you've always wanted to do? You should go do them.' In a world where most new cars frantically remind you not to press the accelerator pedal quite so hard, that is refreshing. That is Alfa Romeo.