Car Reviews Commentary & Observations

Lockdown-Cars We Owned- 2007- Alfa Romeo 159 JTS Sedan

The Lockdown series continues with me and my 2 driving buddies, Alfred & David, also sharing our experiences, comments and reflections of the different cars we have owned.

David’s 9th car, his third dip into an Alfa Romeo maybe the one that got away. Some relationships, car relationships, which can be passionate like true love, can leave lasting memories. Experiences that leave an imprint that all others, subconsciously, are measured against. Comparing elements that are fundamental to the core of what you value in the driving experience.

David’s Alfa experiences to date have been very positive for him, the bad bits seemed to have faded from the memory. For the vast population, generally, what movie titles or song might describe 1970s & 1980’s Alfa ownership experience- “Fatal Attraction” , maybe, “Romancing the Stone” or “ Bitter Sweet Symphony”.

If this reminds you of a special car you have owned please share your experience or just name it or just “like” ours.

#mynextcarbuying #melbourne #automotiveadvocate #lockdown #carsweowned #alfaromeo #alfa #alfaromeo159 #alfa159

2007 Alfa Romeo 159 JTS 2.2 litre 4 -Cylinder 6 speed manual
Black with red leather seats
136kW 230Nm
0-100km/h in 8.8 seconds

Che bella machina!

Superb to look at – especially in black with red leather seats! Has there ever been a better-lookingsedan? The triple headlights and half hidden triple tail lights. The sweeping bonnet creases and bluff front quarter panels. The classic grille. Nothing over styled, just simple elegance. And it continued inside with the traditional 3 gauges in a real aluminium centre console, aluminium and leather steering wheel and luxurious pleated leather seats that looked and felt like they belonged in a car that was 3 times the price.

A joy to look at and a joy to drive, the 159 stimulated all the senses. A grunty 4-cylinder twin cam engine that would growl encouragingly as it revved to the red line. Very direct steering with excellent feel and feedback. Comfortable driving position with good visibility. Strong brakes. Pointy front end with good traction and still managed to have a lively back end. The 159 positively fizzed with Alfa-ness especially compared to the stodge that was the base BMW 3 series at the time. Reliable too. Again, only left me stranded once in 3 years (loose connection to the starter motor) so not bad…for an Alfa!

The only real negative was the back seat. For some reason it was not a nice place to be. They seemed comfortable enough when you sat in them, there was a decent amount of room and it felt light and airy. But after 20 minutes you just started to feel unwell. This happened to anyone sitting in the back. The front was fine with driver and passenger feeling great after a long trip but anyone in the back would soon start to complain. It was just weird. Otherwise it was a very practical family car with four doors and a big boot that was fun to drive. It was a shame that the rest of the family would always argue about who had to sit in the back.

Usually after 3 years I am ready and eager to move on to my next car. The 159 was different. After 3 years I still looked forward to driving it as much as the first day I got it. I was truly sad to see it go. Owning the 159 I would enjoy looking at it as I walked towards it, be thrilled by the drive and then look back with a smile as I walked away. What more could you ask for?

Richard comment:

The length of the review David displays the depth of the passion for this car from you. Does it make it to your top 3 I wonder? Agree, beautiful muscular design that has stood the test time. Interior photos looked like quality. The desire to want more and to come back for more drives says a lot about the car. How does this stack up in regards the driving experience against the Toyota 86 for you? As it sounds like it ticked all the boxes.

Alfred comment:

Yeah Ok! So I agree it sounds like your most passionate review to date. I would bet it has made your top 3 based on everything you said except for the back seat experience, which you never had to endure.

Lockdown-Cars We Owned-2004- Honda Euro Accord

The Lockdown series continues with me and my 2 driving buddies, Alfred & David, also sharing our experiences, comments and reflections of the different cars we have owned.

David’s 8th car, the Honda Euro Accord was his first venture away from European delights to the efficiency of the Japanese car maker. Honda of the 1980’s really started making its mark as a great designer of cars and making some very good sporting engines. The VTEC engine developed in Formula One racing passed down into mainstream Honda cars and produced some high revving gems like the Honda Integra and the S2000 Roadster.

If this reminds you of a special car you have owned please share your experience or just name it or just “like” ours.

#mynextcarbuying #melbourne #automotiveadvocate #lockdown #carsweowned #honda #hondaeuroaccord

2004 Honda Accord Euro
140kW 223Nm 6 speed manual
0-100km/h 8.1 seconds

One word that describes Honda in this era is “clever” and this car felt like a serious tilt at taking on the European luxury cars. A classy sports saloon that offered something a little bit special.

There was the beautiful grunty engine that sang as it revved well into the 6000+ rpm. A class leading slick six speed gearbox and a well sorted front end that did not struggle to put the power down. My only gripe is that I found the rest of the car a little soft for my liking. The Euro was tuned more for mainstream comfort than hard edged performance. One of those cars that felt really good day to day but didn’t really reward when you pushed it harder. But as an overall package I would say much more than competent.

Very refined and clever in many ways and I would definitely recommend. For me I actually preferred the 7th series over the update. The 8th series was wider but actually felt more cramped inside mainly due to the silly bulbous dashboard. The interior in the 7th series was both simpler and roomier. I also loved the alloy door handles which gave the overall look of the car a real touch of class.

I would still put the Accord Euro as the pick of the sporty Japanese saloons of that era. Maybe the Mazda 6 was better but I’ve not had enough experience with this car to be sure. It was also nice to have the choice of a manual in a variety of cars which is lacking today.

The problem with the Euro for me was that at no stage did I find it particularly exciting. I just did not lust for a drive in this car like others I have owned. I feel a little disappointed with Honda as a whole as 20 years ago they were an exciting, innovative brand that promised to do great things for the enthusiastic driver but they have not lived up to this promise.

Richard comment:

I have always rated series 7 Euro Accord David, as I felt it was Honda at its peak in styling, engine development and performance. I did rate it as then -Japanese BMW. The styling has stood the test of time especially in its luxury form with added side skirts. I thought it had a quality finish and that VTEC engine was a willing high revving flat torque curve performer. Though you did feel that second power cam kick in at the top of the range and whisk you through those last couple hundred revs.

I only experienced Alfred’s Euro with the after-market, Bilstein’sshockers and thought it handled well, there was no roll and fairly direct in steering. It had some steering feel but it did not possess the feedback of a traditional European. Well, because it was Japanese. Bullet proof, efficient and well put together. Maybe the German Bilstein’s brought some of that European feel to it. Just a little! But it surely hung on and could take anything you gave it. There is something magical about reaching 7500rpm as we have discovered in the Toyota 86, Corolla Twin-cam and as you described in your MR2.Soit stands as very good rated car for me.

Alfred comment:

My version of the euro was much more positive. Having come out of the BMW 528i, five years earlier, I only owned the Euro for 8 months before I ordered my FPV F6 from the factory. I had the metallic white top of the range full skirts and cream leather interior with the wood grain and roof.

The first thing I loved about it was the interior. I felt like I was back in my Beemer, which also had the cream leather. I felt I was in something airy and spacious with the right amount of quality that made me feel good every time I got inside it. The pearl white metallic with the body kit really finished its exterior potential without being loud and over stated. I loved the 6- speed gearbox and admired the V-Tec engine feeling like I was back revving out my twin cam Corollas again.

To get the performance you needed to know how to drive it and revving it to its limit was part of that formula to deliver the 147kw available. The key for me was installing the Bilsteinshockers all around. It transformed the handling with a combination of flat cornering and sophisticated cushioning with firmness combined. I loved that car also for its midsize space and ergonomics. You could recline the back seat also slightly for the rear passenger comfort compared to the new model which felt tighter, darker inside with no cream leather option and no space under the front seats for rear passenger’s feet.

To me, it felt like my Japanese BMW and the suspension was the differentiator that allowed you to maximise the performance together with the handling. When I see a well maintained one on the road today it still stands up in design and impression of quality. I would not be ashamed to have a great example like the one I had in my driveway with Bilstein’s for a great drive anytime.

Lockdown-Cars We Owned- 2001- Alfa Romeo 147 Twin Spark

The Lockdown series continues with me and my 2 driving buddies, Alfred & David, also sharing our experiences, comments and reflections of the different cars we have owned.

David’s 7th car, the Alfa Romeo 147 twin spark was the first car that he bought after seeing it at the Melbourne Motor Show. Most of us would have just drooled over it but he went and ordered it the next day, first off, top of the waiting list, at full list price. Almost sounds like what this generation does buying the latest iphone.

It was also the first car he leased and was introduced to the concept of depreciation and the special relationship that Alfa Romeo had with that word. In time, the pain of departing was far outweighed by the joy of ownership. This was a car left a lasting impression in the way it looked and the driving experience that Alfa could combine so well.
If this reminds you of a special car you have owned please share your experience or just name it or just “like” ours.

#mynextcarbuying #melbourne #automotiveadvocate #lockdown #carsweowned #alfaromeo #alfaromeo147 #alfa147

2001 Alfa Romeo 147 Twin Spark 3 door in red with black leather
110kW 181Nm 5 speed manual
0-100km/h in 9.3 seconds

First and only car I have pre-ordered and bought new at list price. In fact, it was in the first batch to arrive in Australia after ordering it at the Melbourne Motor show months before. It was also my first modern, luxury car with leather seats and all the trimmings. I had discovered the joys of leasing!

The 147 was based on the 156 and these cars were a milestone for Alfa Romeo. Up to the minute modern and completely reliable but still retaining that special Alfa Romeo feel. In 3 years of ownership I was only left stranded once and that was because the battery died suddenly. I remember being very surprised by the 147 when I drove it. It drove like a modern front wheel drive car of today without any of the tendency to oversteer and problems with traction I had expected. Up until then my experience of front wheel drive cars was of having to wrestle them around corners fighting oversteer the whole way.

I vividly remember late one night turning left off the end of the Ring Rd onto the Greensborough Bypass with no traffic and a green light and being surprised and delighted at how well (and fast!) the front end of the 147 pulled me through the corner with its electronic differential trickery. This was an absolute revelation to me at the time. Again, not the fastest car on the road but the steering feel, engine response, slick gearbox, comfortable driving position, ride and handling all gave a great driving experience.

In my opinion, easily the best-looking hatchback ever. The way the classic Alfa grill extends down through the front bumper displacing the number plate to one side is reminiscent of the glamorous 1950s Alfa’s and is absolute genius.

Just don’t ask me about trade in value when the lease was over!

Richard comment:

Another ownership gem ? you have had David. All these desirable exotics don’t tell me you owned an Aston Martin before you hit 35yo. The car nut in me can only take so much.
I used to go to the Melbourne Motor Show as a kid and into my adult years and drool over the cars. I imagined myself behind so many. The idea of being so impressed by a car at the motor show that you would go order it the next day was the ultimate dream. Damn it! You did it!

I can honestly say apart from the modern Giulia I had never driven an older style Alfa. I have been a passenger in a newish GTV 2,0L and an Alfasud. But as we know, the pleasure is in the drive. It sounds like the 147 offered all the joy of steering chassis and feedback. The power was all about extracting the last ounce performance and for its time 9.3secs wasn’t a shabby time.

Maybe the joy of owning something special & unique and being prepared to pay full dollar with the pain of seeing the trade in values on the other side take your breath away, is still alive and well. One dealer recently offered $4000 as a trade-in for an excellent, hot hatch, 2012 Renault Megane RS 250 Cup I was selling for a client. How some things never change!

We use cookies to help us improve, promote and protect our services. By continuing to use the site, you agree to our privacy policy