The flagship that hasn’t stood the test of time

Automotive content
Rare beast:  harmony of form and function?

Alfa Romeo 166 2.4 JTD 10V

The Alfa Romeo 166 2.4 JTD 10V, like other versions of the 166, has always been praised for its alternative, sleek styling, with super dynamics and a large cabin.

The model, which was only ever available in left-hand drive, was only constructed between October 2003 to January 2007 and the 2.4 JTD diesel engine has always been regarded by Alfa enthusiasts as one of the most successful of the car manufacturer’s engines.

It was created by the Alfa Romeo Style Centre with the aim of expressing the harmony of form and function while combining the sports traits of a coupé with the elegance of a great saloon.

If cared for, it is said the engine is capable of running for as many as a million kilometres (620,000 miles) without problems. It generates 100 kW (136 PS) at 4000 rpm,  and the car has a huge pulling power of 304 Nm (224 lb/ft) from 2000 rpm.

When you slide into the comfortable but hardly supportive driver’s seat you will find that any rumours about the ergonomics being compromised are no more than tittle-tattle. This is a car that was built for long journeys and as a result, its levels of comfort do not disappoint.

However, if you are expecting build quality and high-class materials you will feel let down. But Alfa Romeo’s always have a sporting heart – and this model is no different. The 166’s engine note sounds fantastic, and if you are an enthusiastic driver you will want to keep it in gear just for the enjoyment of it.

Unfortunately, however, the 166, like a lot of Alfa Romeos has been exposed by time to be a fragile specimen. Its interiors don’t wear well, so be careful if you really are thinking of buying one of these.

It is a far cry from when this model was launched. Then Alfa’s boasts were many: the car came fitted with an advanced climate control system. There was plenty of sound-proofing. The in-car technology had supposedly been designed to make life feel that bit easier. There was an electronic interface, with Cruise Control, a smart radio which dynamically adjusted the volume in conjunction with surrounding noises, and a satellite navigation system.

Having said that, this Alfa is rare among executive cars in that it puts the pleasure of driving above efficiency and comfort and efficiency. It’s Twin Spark engine gives a lively performance, which is enhanced by a well-balanced chassis and firm ride firm. The steering is noticeably precise and adequately weighted.

The only big gripe is that this is a gas guzzler – even in the calmest driver’s hands.

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