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Alfa Romeo 166 Car Review

Author: NRMA MotoringDate: 1 October 2001

For the past couple of years the Alfa Romeo 166 has been the top of the range model from the Italian manufacturer. Accordingly, the 166 is a luxury vehicle offering a comprehensive equipment package, while maintaining the type of sports car handling and performance synonymous with the Alfa Romeo brand.

The recent release of the 2002 model Alfa Romeo 166 has seen the model receive a number of detail changes. New inclusions for the 2002 model 166 include a further equipment hike in addition to new suspension settings and 17 inch alloy wheels. The new 166 is claimed to offer improved road holding while providing a more comfortable ride.

In line with the previous model, the Alfa Romeo 166 is available with only one engine and transmission in Australia. The 166 is powered by a 3.0 litre V6 quad camshaft engine that produces 166 kW of power at 6200 rpm and a maximum torque figure of 275 Nm at 5000 rpm. While the power is unchanged from the previous model, the engine has been changed to meet new Euro 3 emission rules overseas, which has reduced emissions by up to 80 per cent.

Alfa Romeo's adaptive "Sportronic" electronic automatic transmission complements the V6 engine and is standard fitment. It is a four speed transmission that allows the driver to choose between sequential manual operation and an automatic mode. When operated as an automatic, the gearbox continually adapts to the driving style and type of route in order to determine the desired gear and gearchange characteristics.

In line with the 166's position as the range topper for Alfa Romeo, it is equipped with a long list of standard equipment and luxury features. New inclusions for the 2002 model include a GSM digital mobile phone integrated into the dashboard as part of the Integrated Control System (ICS) and the electric seats gain a three memory setting for the driver's seat. The centre dashboard mounted ICS utilises an 8 cm LCD screen to control a number of major features in the Alfa Romeo 166. The ICS controls the audio system, trip computer, climate control and ventilation system and the mobile phone system. Other standard features include a hand crafted leather interior (seats, steering wheel and gearknob), electric and heated front seats with driver's seat memory, power windows, automatic climate control system, 17 inch alloy wheels (including spare), remote controlled door and boot opening, electric door mirrors with de-mist function, 8 speaker sound system with remote CD stacker and trip computer, anti-theft alarm, cruise control and an immobiliser.

The level of sophistication available in the Alfa 166 is also born out in the array of safety features fitted to the vehicle. These items include ABS brakes, front seat belts which are equipped with pretensioners and are height adjustable, windscreen wiper rain sensor, fire prevention system, two front airbags and front seat side airbags.

The Alfa Romeo 166 retails for $79,900, which does not include dealer charges or on-road costs. With such a comprehensive list of standard features, factory fitted options are limited to metallic paint and an electric sunroof.

With its plush leather interior and generous interior dimensions, the Alfa scores well on comfort and space. There is an excellent range of seat adjustment for the driver and both front and rear seating is generally well shaped and offers good support. The control layout is typical Alfa, smart and functional, although the left-hand indicator of our test vehicle failed to cancel after completing most left hand turns.

The Alfa 166 really comes into its own on the open road. The 3.0 litre engine is a powerful engine for its size and really does provide very relaxed and effortless cruising at legal highway speeds. When 'Drive' is selected, the Alfa tends to be a little reluctant to downshift, preferring to lug in a higher gear until provoked by nearly fully depressing the accelerator pedal. Manually operating the gearshift allows you to better control downshifting, which gives better engine response and improves driving smoothness.

When driving the 166 the sports nature of the model is immediately apparent. The combination of nicely weighted steering and quite firm suspension (without being harsh) gives the driver good feeling for the road and high limits of road holding. While the braking system is powerful, it lacks the pedal feel to be smooth in stop start driving.


The Alfa Romeo 166 is a stylish vehicle with the character of both a sports and a luxury car. It is lavishly equipped, a strong performer and very comfortable on the open road. The 2002 model is characterised by a number of detail changes.

Quick Facts

Make Alfa Romeo
Model 166
Category Medium
Year 2002
Price of vehicle tested $79,900

Lively engine
Comfortable and effortless open road cruising
Impressive standard features


Brake pedal has an unprogressive feel
Annoying noise and vibration at idle when using air-con

Country of manufacture Italy
Warranty 3years/100,000km
Models Available






Number of cylinders 6
Engine size 3.0 L


Type Automatic


Wheel type Alloy
Wheel size 17 "


Dimensions 225/45R17


Type Power assisted rack and pinion
Turns to lock 2.3 m
Turning circle (measured) 12.0 m


Mass 1550 kg
Length 4720 mm
Width (including mirrors) 1815 mm
Height 1416 mm
Seating capacity 5
Fuel capacity 72 litres


Max towed mass (trailer plus load) 1500 kg

NRMA Theft Rating

Points on scale 0 - 120 (high score is best) 60.5

Acceleration - Test results

50 - 80km/h 4.4 secs
60 - 100km/h 5.6 secs
0 - 80km/h 7.0 secs
0 - 100km/h 9.5 secs

Fuel Consumption

Best recorded during testing 10.2 L/100km
Worst recorded during testing 13.6 L/100km
Average on test 11.91 L/100km


Distance to stop (from 80km/h) 27.3 metres


Interior noise at constant 80km/h 68 dB(A)

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