The Alfa Romeo 147, a three- or five-door hatch, small family car first came into production in 2000 after the Turin Motor Show, and the last model hit the showrooms in 2010. Being an Italian car, it naturally had poise and elegance, and even later facelifts still kept the cars graceful looks. However, eventually a newer model came along in the guise of the young Giulietta and replaced it.
The updates that were implemented did not alter the 147's striking looks and saw it sporting a larger iconic Alfa grille and badge, luscious long headlights, and a tall reworking of the rear light rig. Throughout its 10 years, the Alfa 147 was not radically changed, mainly just tweaked, managing to keep its style and road-hugging performance.
The interior does not disappoint either, with soft touch leather finish, 3-spoke raking steering wheel, and an interesting dashboard design. The rear bench splits 60/40 to give a decent-size cargo area, and there is plenty of easy access through the rear hatch.
Under the bonnet, there is the choice of two engines: the 2.0L petrol that produces 110kW of power and 181Nm of torque or the 1.9L JTD diesel. The diesel also puts out 110kW of power, but its torque ratio at 305Nm is considerably better. Despite the ageing petrol engine it still has quite a skip in it and purrs contentedly at the lights. The diesel with the extra torque can, when required, produce the necessary acceleration and goes from 0-100km in 8.5 seconds.
The petrol engine is linked to either a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic gearbox, while the diesel only comes with the 6-speed automatic option. All this combines to produce a really comfortable ride and, despite the roaring engine, the cabin is still surprisingly quiet although somewhat bouncy over rough, badly kept roads. In terms of keeping all occupants safe, Alfa has definitely produced the goods, and the 147 comes with 6 airbags, along with anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, electronic stability control, and traction control, all designed to keep the car on the road.
The car’s performance was such that during its early years, it competed in a number of World Touring Car Championships. The specially adapted vehicle fitted with a 2.0L twin spark engine won in 2005 and came third in the British Touring Car Championship in 2001. Proving that the car was more than capable of producing the goods on the track.
There are a number of trim levels, but the standard trim across the range comes with alloy wheels, CD system, climate control, cruise control, electric, heated mirrors, height adjustable driver’s seat, PAS, remote locking, and a raking, reach steering wheel. Depending on the trim you select, there is also the choice of parking sensors, leather upholstery, heated seats, headlight washers, and luxurious sports seats.
No matter which trim you choose, the interior is well thought out, and the driving position and ease with which you can reach the controls makes it a joy behind the wheel. There is plenty of headroom and legroom up front, but the rear seats can feel a little tight, especially on long journeys.
The Alfa Romeo 147 is one of the most stylish looking cars in its class, and even 12 years after the design first hit the showrooms, it is still a smart-looking car. A few years down the line, this is one that is destined to become a classic car in its own right.
The elegant Italian looker finds itself pitted against the old faithfuls in the class that are still going strong. The Volkswagen Golf, Mazda 3, Mini Cooper, BMW 1-series, Audi A3, Volvo C30, Lexus CT200h, and Toyota Prius III are all quoted in the same breath as the 147, but the Alfa will always edge on appearance. Competition is stiffer on performance and price, as there are those better positioned in the small family car category.
There is always talk of reliability issues with Italian cars, but if any car is well maintained and looked after, chances are it will be a good runner. The concerns raised are largely historical, and the current crop of Alfas is built to the same reliability and quality standards as their rivals. Residual values are not great, so that means you will be able to pick up a second-hand one up at a reasonable price.