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Alfa Romeo 166 (1998 - 2005)

Last updated 18 May 2018

Strong and enjoyable engines, tidy handling and svelte good looks.
V6 hard on tyres. Floor suffers badly from rust.
Updated 22 January 2004

Facelift for 2004. Priced from £21,750 - £29,900 on-the-road, now four models and a choice of three petrol engines; a 2.0 litre 16-valve Twin Spark unit with 6-speed manual transmission, a 3.0 litre 24-valve...

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The Alfa 166 replaced the 164 as the Italian marque’s executive car. It is a truth univerally acknowledged that Italian’s have never done big luxobarges as well as their German counterparts… but all those ministers and heads of state need something to be driven around in and the platform shared 166/Lancia Kappa was it.

Power came from various sizes of Alfa’s lovely V6, a four-pot (no, we don’t know why either) and a 2.4-litre JTD oil burner. At the time, these were excellent engines – but high-mileage examples haven’t stood the test of time so well.

Sadly, most buyers didn’t have the same kind of brand loyalty and (wisely) opted for something built in Stuttgart or Munich. As a result, fewer than 3000 166s were sold in the UK – and only 400 survive now.

Which is a shame, because the 166 is actually a pretty decent car. Well, it was when it was launched anyway. Good to look at, well equipped and fun to drive it ticked plenty of boxes. But you can’t mention Alfa without mentioning rust and, unfortunately, the 166 did rot.

While a lot of work went into rustproofing the body, the floor didn’t receive quite the same level of care. Find a cherished one and you’ll enjoy a fine car that stands out from the crowd. Buy a bad one however and you’ll need to put your hand in your pocket.

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