Romeo's all heart; Profiles used car SPOTLIGHT.
OUR series highlighting the best used cars around puts the spotlight on a popular individual model - and we also include a separate feature on three cars recommended by the specialists at UsedCarExpert.com. This week the focus falls on the Alfa Romeo 147.
ALFA ROMEO'S pledge for its sports hatchback the 147was to stir the soul.
Seven years down the line, the model that scooped the Car of the Year 2001 crown remains one of coolest looking small cars around with its flowing lines, aggressive face, smart interior - and that Romeo badge.
The earliest cars camewith a choice of 1.6 or 2.0-litre Twin Spark engines andwere followed by an excellent 115bhp JTD diesel and a fiery 140bhp 16-valve MultiJet oil burner.
All these engines are first class, the Alfa excelling in the area of performance and handling.
It lacks a little of the 2.0 litre's punch, but has a slick close-ratio gearbox and can be driven confidently in all road conditions.
The 2.0 litre just raises the enjoyment another rung.
As for the diesels, you really wouldn't knowthe JTD re-fills at the black pump-it's that quiet and smooth.
The second generation MultiJet diesel is a 1.9-litrewith twin overhead camshaft and four valves per cylinder, though the important bit is thatwith 140bhp available at 4,000rpm, it has a torque - or pulling power - figure greater than that generated by the awesome 3.2-litreV6 of the 147 GTA.
The 147 comes in both three and five-door style - the latter adds an average pounds 350 to the value - and in entry level Turismo and upgraded Lusso trim. Its interior is as Italian as Lazio or Juve, right down to the Benzina and Acqua signs on the dials, the chrome highlights, badged steering wheel and the body-hugging seats.
Lack of space in the back, a common fault in cars of this size, marks the Alfa down slightly.
Safety means six airbags, ABS, traction control, side impact door beams, collapsible steering column, and front seatbeltswith pre-tensioners are included.
Expect to pay an independent dealer around pounds 4,500 for a 2004-04 1.6 Turismo three-door model, pounds 5,500 for the same model year 2.0 Lusso five-door or pounds 5,500 for a 1.9 JTD Turismo three-door.
DRIVING: Terrific pace, handling and engine note throughout the range a real enthusiast's car
PERFORMANCE: Strong all round, but 2.0-litre petrol and 1.9 JTD diesel are the pick.
ECONOMY: Great from the JTD with its 47mpg average, while 2.0 Twin Spark returns an average 31.7.
SAFETY: Six airbags, side impact door beams, collapsible steering column, and front seatbeltswith pre-tensioners, ABSand traction control.
WHAT'SHOT: Italian style and flair, performance and handling
WHAT'SNOT: Tight space in rear, small boot, poor turning circle.
RECOMMENDED BUY: Alfa Romeo 1.6 TwinSpark Turism
STARRATING (OUT OF FIVE): * * *
WHEREFORE ART THOU: The Alfa Romeo continues to be one of the best models in its class