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Alfa Romeo 156 2.0 Twin Spark

Alfa Romeo

Review

THE International Car of the Year award has had a turbulent history: some winners have really shone (Renault Megane Scenic, Fiat Punto) while others have, to be frank, completely missed the mark (Renault 9, Talbot Horizon - remember those?). But now there's a new winner in the Alfa Romeo 156 and it looks set to give the company - traditionally a marque the fleet industry wouldn't touch with a bargepole largely on account of corrosion scares, a poor reliability reputation, disastrous residual values and high servicing costs - a new lease of life.

The 156 is critical to Alfa's survival, not just in the UK but in Italy itself where volumes have dwindled in the face of rising international competition. It's pitched at the premium end of the upper medium sector, competing with the likes of the BMW 3-series and Audi A4, and adds a dash of Italian flair to this German-dominated sector. Its gorgeous styling harks back to Alfas past, with voluptuous curves and a unique 'coupe look' achieved by hiding the rear door handles in the C-pillars.

There are three engines: the 144bhp 1.8 and 155bhp 2.0 Twin Spark four-cylinder units are revised versions of those in the old 155, while the 190bhp 2.5-litre V6 is all new. Prices range from ú17,573 for the 1.8 Twin Spark, through ú19,728 for the 2.0 Twin Spark (tested here) to ú22,232 for the V6, placing the Alfa competitively with its rivals, all of which are significantly less powerful.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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