Alfa 159? Or something "sensible"? (warning long boring estate car post)

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  • Alfa 159? Or something "sensible"? (warning long boring estate car post)
  • wooobob
    Member

    Afternoon all. I’ve spent what seems like forever looking for a family estate car which will last for a few years, be reasonable to drive, reasonably economical and reliable, and fit two child seats, dog, etc. as well as being bike/camping/etc. friendly. I have been looking at £4-5k, but would go up to £6k.

    I’ve whittled it down to:

    Ford Mondeo
    Honda Accord
    Mazda6

    I’m going for these mainly because they’re bigger and get generally good reviews. BMWs seem to be pricier to service and maintain (although an old 5 series would be nice). Octavia is an option, but would have to get a vrs which might cost a bit to insure.

    I’m not going to be doing mega miles (c.10-12k/yr, shopping/local and regular long runs), so am looking mainly at petrols given the age of the cars and apparent likelihood of problems with e.g. DPFs. I wouldn’t rule out a diesel, but the balance of opinion seems to favour petrol.

    I am out of the country presently, so will have approximately three days next week to identify, test drive and buy the car (long story). I’m conscious that with such a short time to get out and look I need to be well-organised and focused on what I want, otherwise I’ll end up being sold a pup.

    My question to you is: Why shouldn’t I just go and buy the nicest Alfa 159 estate I can find for the money? I mean, look at it! It’s lovely!

    Any advice from the hive mind?

    PJM1974
    Member

    I’ve owned Alfas since 2003 and for the most part, they don’t deserve to be labelled with the usual cliches. Since 1999 they’ve been built with Bosch electrics which has rarely given me any hassle. My 156 V6 had a recurrent problem with air mass meters that was really down to my choice of aftermarket air filter and my 147 twin spark had a problem with a crank sensor recently but otherwise it’s been okay.

    Steer clear of main dealers, find a really good specialist and shop around for parts – they aren’t massive expensively expensive – and keep an eye on the service schedule. Suspension parts should be replaced as a matter of course as it’s easier to replace a wishbone than to refit new bushes apparently. It’s tempting to skimp this but you’ll be left with a whopping bill when you need to replace all four wishbones and the track control arms too.

    If it were my £6k it would be a diseasal Mondeo… but having said that if I found a 159 TD then I’d have a very hard time talking myself out of it.

    And yes, the 159 is gorgeous.

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    Interesting – I’ll have the same dilemma next year when my 9-3 goes…
    Mmmm.. 159
    One thing that puts me off the 159 – the boot hatch is a bit teeny isn’t it?

    PJM1974
    Member

    You swines!

    *opens yahoo search for used Alfas*

    hora
    Member

    Honda Accord or Toyota Avensis

    surfer
    Member

    Keep quiet about Alfas being fast, fun, largely reliable and great looking. Keep reinforcing the old sterotypes, it keeps the second hand prices down!!

    Premier Icon pedalhead
    Subscriber

    I have an Alfa 159 (saloon) and it’s a peach. Even the 1.9 diesel is quite lively once remapped (allegedly). Mine’s been reliable, though it is only a 59 plate. Handles great, though again mine’s the lowered one on big fat 19″ wheels. If looks are important, there’s nothing in the segment to touch it imho, plus equipment levels are way above the equivalently priced Germans.

    hora
    Member

    Well lets face it. You can’t say VW is a better car, possibly the only area is residuals (just) and numbers of dealers.

    Everything else can and does fail with alot of expense.

    for £6K i’d get a late model outgoing avensis fully loaded with leather, sat nave’s etc . Not the most dynamic drive but you’ll put your hand in your pocket less in any way imaginable in comparison to the alfa

    Premier Icon verses
    Subscriber

    Bought a late 156 estate earlier this year.

    I can get my bike through the hatch, but it’s fair to say it doesn’t just glide straight in…

    Looking to get a towbar fitted but can’t bring myself to spoil the look of the back end… 🙄

    Premier Icon weeksy
    Subscriber

    mate of mine runs an Alfa place in Oxford for spannering if anyone needs it.

    titusrider
    Member

    My first Car was a 1.6 Tspark 147
    second was a Mito
    Third will be a 4C

    nothing wrong with Alfa’s 🙂

    apart from my dad’s 2600 Sprint a few years ago, Money pit!

    the Spider he has now is much better

    Really like the 159, watch for front tyre wear issues and check out Alfa owner for other stuff to watch for

    If it were my money I’d buy the Honda.

    Premier Icon jeffl
    Subscriber

    I’ve got an Accord Estate. Great care and love it. However they do have a price premium over a Mondeo and there are less of them around. Love mine to drive, had Mondeo as a hire car and whilst ok no where near as nice as the Accord.

    Saying that petrols are fairly cheap and you can get the 2 or 2.4 litre. Parts can be a little pricier than Ford and I guess insurance is a little higher to reflect this. Have a look on http://typeaccord.co.uk for loads of useful info.

    Mine has been reliable with no issues. By all accounts the Petrols are even better in this respect. I think the only thing that can get a bit wappy is the automatic tailgate which can be expensive. Only other thing is wheel bearings.

    I beleive the Mazda 6 is based on the same chassis as a mondeo but for some reason seems to be cheaper, which is good. TBH I don’t think you can really go wrong with any of them.

    I’ve got a 159 Estate, or as Alfa prefer, a Sportwagen.
    Its a diesel but its a TI spec 178BHP with all the toys so its pretty pokey and looks amazing.

    Its great to drive, not bad on fuel, not bad insurance and not bad tax.
    Not the biggest boot of all the estates but still practical.

    Mines only a year old so I’m still driving around with my fingers crossed regarding any mechanical issues but it has, so far, been terrific.

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    Steer clear of main dealers, find a really good specialist

    +1

    on my third alfa 🙂

    make sure your wife can cope with the ride if you get stupid low profiles – I have 17s on a GT and the wife still complains – the ride and handling on my sportspak 156 with 16s was better.

    But it gives me an excuse to upgrade the suspension 🙂

    Top spec 159 SW in black with tan leather is going to be my next car.

    For you though, I’d reccommend an Octy vRS. I have a mk2 estate and its a cracking car.

    Premier Icon pedalhead
    Subscriber

    mate of mine runs an Alfa place in Oxford for spannering if anyone needs it.

    Palmer & Philips? They service my 159, been very happy with them so far.

    Premier Icon stewartc
    Subscriber

    Saddest part of leaving the UK for me was selling my 159 Sportswagon. If you follow the usual 2nd hand rules (i.e. check the service history etc) you should have no problem. The load space is tricky if looking to put your bike in the back but hey, get a roof rack, its not worth scratching the leather interior.
    Alfa’ built since the 156 are as reliable as any other car, in fact my 56 plate Golf gave me more hassle than my 59 plate 159, the only issue recently was the crap dealership support which has been rectified….mostly.

    Premier Icon paulosoxo
    Subscriber

    I’d echo avoiding the dealer network, not just for price, but because they’re a shower of shite.

    Actually, I don’t know where my nearest dealer is now. I do miss my old 147 though.

    surfer
    Member

    I still think the old 156 is one of the nicest (cheapish) looking cars on the road.

    I loved my mazda 6 until about 65k . Since then it has been a catalogue of problems with the emissions systems and sensors! The dpf is a nightmare… I believe it was on watchdog recently as it can kill the car. Mazda wont admit a problem or recall despite there obviously being an issue. The dealers in my area are a right shower too! Unfortunately mazda has made it very difficult for the independents to access and reset the ecu on the car forcing you into very expensive> £1k trips to the dealers to get dpf issues sorted. Ive had various sensors changed – maf twice and fuel/air sensors but the dpf light keeps on coming on.

    So do not buy a diesel mazda 6 estate! It will not do mega miles and its very hard to get issues fixed by the independent garages as independents struggle to reset the ecu.

    If i was looking for a 2nd hand diesel estate id go for a 2006 or earlier pre dpf vw passat diesel . See this months what car – they reccomend it because it has no dpf on the 1.9 tdi. To quote what car magazine… “One benefit of buying this age of passat is that the car comes without a particulate filter which helps to cut potential reliability issues”

    Dpfs faults are currently an industry wide issue. Its a shame because otherwise my 6 estate (2006) is a great car and i was hoping to get 150 k miles out of it. Now im looking for a new car and seriously considering a hyundai or toyota estate as they have a 5 year warranty.

    So my mazda 6 is again at the dealers. Im getting it fixed and then getting rid. I wont sell it on here because i dont want to land you all with a dud. I will never buy another mazda!

    Not got one… But a friend has… Actually seems very pleased with it but has an impressive collection of photos of it on recovery lorries.

    Oh and with my customer service “experiences ” with mazda , i wouldnt buy a petrol one either. !!!!

    And for the record my wife has a 2l tdi a3 sportback which she has done 125000 miles in and not had any dpf issues to date!

    Premier Icon tonyg2003
    Subscriber

    I had two Accord diesels and they were quite reliable until over 90K (I had the first from new and the second one almost from new) when I had manifold and turbo, sensor problems. Well know issues with MkVII Accord. Check out the petrol vs turbo issues list on the type accord forum 173 vs 3700 posts. Says it all. If you aren’t doing too many miles the 2.4 is very good.

    The Accord handles well and is much bigger than the Alfa for bike carrying too. Terrible image though! Our MkVIII Accord is a great car too.

    hora
    Member

    my 56 plate Golf gave me more hassle than my 59 plate 159

    Your are comparing a 5yr old car against a 1/2yr old one though.

    Saying that. Bro in law has a mkV 59 plate Golf TDI. So far its had a new DPF and new Turbo 😯

    Premier Icon stewartc
    Subscriber

    No Hora, sorry should have been clearer, not comparing different aged cars just models I have owned from new, my 56 plate Gold was replaced by the 59 plate 159.

    mtbmatt
    Member

    Very hard to beat the Mondeo in my opinion, especially the ST models.
    They are well equipped, very reliable and good economy for the diesel (not DPF either).

    We have had a ST TDCI for over 3 years and it has been a brilliant car, trouble free and great to drive. Just so happen to be selling it (as I have a van, so no longer need a big car) and within your budget as well 😉

    We looked at a few, including the Accord and Octavia VRS before deciding on the Mondeo.

    rkk01
    Member

    Kids, Bikes, Dogs & Camping???

    You need to be looking at my “For Sale” Ford S-Max…

    Has been the perfect family activity / kit car

    oh, and I happen to have one for sale…!

    ETA – as well as being a very versatile car, the S-Max is also a very good car to drive 😀 . Far, far better than the A4 Avant that I (temporarily) have from the company stable… 🙁

    wooobob
    Member

    rkk01 – Nice. Would be on the list for deffo, but over my budget unfortunately.

    mtbmatt – like this one?

    mtbmatt
    Member

    Just like that one, but at that price I am guessing it has galactic mileage. They are fine for over 150k mind, but depends what your plans and how long you want to keep it etc.

    Ours is here, obviously accepting offers. Pretty sure you would find the same spec/age/mileage for less.

    rkk01
    Member

    rkk01 – Nice. Would be on the list for deffo, but over my budget unfortunately.

    Open to offers…

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    Keep it until January and I’ll make you an offer!

    Just resurrecting this thread. We currently have a 2004 Subaru WRX Wagon which is getting a little long in the tooth. We love the performance (it has the Prodrive Performance Pack which kicks out about 265bhp), but dislike the agricultural interior and the fact that the boot could be larger to accomodate all of Geordie Junior’s odds and sods.

    So, I’ve always liked Alfas (used to own a 146Ti cloverleaf which was a hoot when it wasn’t back at the garage), so was interested in the 159 estate. Does anyone know whether this can be chipped – the petrol models in particular as we don’t do enough miles to warrant a diesel. Is it the usual suspects (Revo), or are there specialists out there?

    Good call – thanks titusrider!

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