Motorcheck Used Car Guide: Alfa Romeo 159

Years built: 2006 to 2012
Bodystyles: Four door saloon, five-door sports estate

Alfa Romeo 159 - What is it?

Well, it’s beautiful for a start – Alfa's always have been but the Alfa Romeo 159 saloon (and its Sportwagon brother) have uncommonly good looks, penned by that true genius of car design, Giorgetto Giugiaro. From the glowering headlamps to the pert rear, there are few, if any better looking saloons on the market.
Underneath the 159 is close to unique. It was built on a high-tech platform originally designed to be shared with GM and Saab, but the Americans and Swedes pulled out of the programme, leaving Alfa holding a well-designed baby. Build quality, often an Italian bugbear, is actually pretty good although we’ll come to more on that in a minute.
The cabins are a riot of sexy Italian detailing and deeply-dished, sixties-style dials, but it’s surprisingly spacious in there and the boot is big.

Which one should I buy?

159's never sold especially well – too many buyers of the old 156 had had their fingers burned when it came to resale time – so they’re thin on the ground. It could be a case of settling for what you can track down.
The 1.8 and 1.9-litre petrols are fine, can do mid-thirties MPG and warble in classic Alfa fashion but the best all-round engine is the 1.9 MultiJet diesel – it has either 140hp or 170hp (depending on the year), the potential for 50mpg and plenty of torque to keep that gorgeous body moving like it should.
How much should I spend? Around €15,000 for a 2010 2.0 JTDM.
Here’s one we found:
2009 Alfa Romeo 1.9 JTDM Executive, SIMI registered main dealer, 174,000km, two owners, POA.

What goes wrong?

Ah, yes. Indeed. Look, the hard fact is that while the old Alfa reputation for flaky reliability is just that, a reputation, the Alfa Romeo 159 can be less solid in that regard than some others. It seems to be a car-by-car problem though. Some owners report that their 159's are as solid as a rock, some as solid as marshmallow.
Engine ECUs seem to be a weak point – if they fail then your engine will drop into ‘limp home mode’, or worse yet just stop altogether.
Minor items like cruse control and wiper motors can play up too and check the brakes carefully as well as making sure that the timing belt has been replaced on schedule. One final check – if the inside edges of the tyres are wearing excessively, then the suspension needs adjusting.

Anything else?

There is an ultimate 159. Although Alfa never released a proper sporting GTA version, there was a Q4 model which had four wheel drive and was powered by a sonorous 3.2-litre V6 petrol engine. Only a handful were ever sold, so good luck tracking one down, but if you find one it could be the ultimate in Alfa motoring.
And when you’ve found your perfect 159, don’t forget to get its history checked out by