2001-2005 Alfa Romeo 147: Buying used

By: Joe Kenwright

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Buying a 2001-2005 Alfa Romeo 147 Buying a 2001-2005 Alfa Romeo 147 Buying a 2001-2005 Alfa Romeo 147
Buying a 2001-2005 Alfa Romeo 147 Buying a 2001-2005 Alfa Romeo 147 Buying a 2001-2005 Alfa Romeo 147
Buying a 2001-2005 Alfa Romeo 147 Buying a 2001-2005 Alfa Romeo 147 Buying a 2001-2005 Alfa Romeo 147
Buying a 2001-2005 Alfa Romeo 147 Buying a 2001-2005 Alfa Romeo 147 Buying a 2001-2005 Alfa Romeo 147

Quick tips for the Alfa 147 buyer. It’s no Alfasud but Alfa Romeo’s 147 is still a true sports hatch

2001-2005 Alfa Romeo 147: Buying used
Quick Tips: Buying a 2001-2005 Alfa Romeo 147/147 GTA

 

2001-2005 Alfa Romeo 147 

HISTORY

As it took the European market by storm, a supply shortage delayed the 147’s local arrival until September 2001. It was a shortened version of the 156 from several years earlier which, combined with its delayed local arrival, ensured it was the most reliable Alfa Romeo hatchback seen locally from day one, even if later Selespeeds were better than the early ones. A more conventional front drive design than the Alfasud and its 33 offshoot, the 147 still offered a more involving driving experience than most small hatchbacks with a choice of three or five doors.

The Twin Spark 2.0-litre variable-valve timing four cylinder engine which struggled in bigger models came alive as weight was shaved back to 1250kg. On a diet of premium unleaded, it produced 110kW/181Nm. The real prize was the $59,990 147 GTA after the 156 GTA’s 3.2-litre V6 with 184kW/300Nm was combined with the lighter 1360kg package. An exciting, if sometimes unruly drive, the GTA appearance and hardware upgrades ensured minor classic status from its July 2003 release. It can be good buying now that its extra fuel consumption is testing the commitment of some owners as it’s more hot hatch than frugal runabout. The Ti in Twin Spark three-door spec only was a desirable cosmetic upgrade which arrived in October 2003. The first 147 series ended in mid-2005.

 

CHECKPOINTS

Some European tyres can generate high road noise and feathered tread under local conditions, which can generate a worn wheel bearing sound at low speed and under deceleration. Quality silica tyres seem to work better on local roads. Check for uneven inner tread wear.

Prescribed 20,000km service intervals are too long. Typical oil consumption up to 1.0-litre/1000km can cause careless owners to empty engine sump several times between services for disastrous results. Both engines need premium semi-synthetic oil and filter changes every 10,000km to avoid sludging, more often if you are fussy.

Selespeed option is an electronically-controlled manual gearbox with a normal clutch that behaves like an auto thus requires routine adjustment to work properly. A high-pressure hydraulic pump powers actuators to do the work. The pump wears out and actuators fail for big repair bills so watch for gears that lock in/jump out and other erratic behaviour. Aftermarket can now supply some cheaper changeover Selespeed parts. Watch for slipping clutch on all transmissions.

It’s absolutely critical that cambelts on both engines are changed every 60,000km or three years, whichever comes first, as it’s not just wear but the tensioners slackening-off that can cause the belt to jump its teeth after a big rev leaving multiple valves and expensive pistons to collide. Twin Spark is particularly vulnerable in this area so replace cambelt if there is any doubt. 147’s V6 is much more reliable than earlier versions.

Front weight bias works the front brakes hard with rotor changes around 40-50,000km. Rears follow soon after. Factory parts for both add up.

 

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