Alfa Romeo 147 (01 - 10)
The instantly recognisable 147 is a sleek, sporty looking hatchback that has all the Italian flair of its predecessors as well as an improved drive quality and excellent engines. Voted car of the year in 2001, it was a formidable competitor to the likes of Audi and BMW. It’s one of the best looking Alfas around, and still has the ability to turn heads. In terms of driving, it has a fair amount of understeer but that’s what makes it fun to drive; you feel a lot more involved. The interior is certainly an improvement on previous Alfas. It’s nicely designed and really comfortable. There’s plenty of room and a decent amount of leg room. It comes with a good sized boot, although it isn’t the biggest in class.
Alfa Romeo 156 (97 - 05)
Here’s a car Irish buyers took to big time. The aim was to give them the option of something a bit different. With the market dominated by cars such as the BMW 3-Series, Volvo S40, the 156 was a breath of fresh air. The coupe styling, along with a really smart and sporty drive made it one of the best selling cars in its class at that time. The 156 also has good levels of practicality; it can take five in the cabin with decent leg/head room, and there’s a good size boot. The interior décor is one of the best around, with some excellent features to add to the sporty feel. To drive, it is one of the best Alfas you can get. The handling is good, the steering sharp and it is excellent on corners.
Alfa Romeo 159 (06 - 11)
The 156’s replacement came in the form of the 159, which was among some of Alfa Romeo’s best work in terms of design, performance and auto-electrics. The new triple-lens headlights, swooping curves and that front grille are what make it stand out. Space in the cabin is pretty good considering its size. There’s enough room for up to five; leg and headroom is decent and there’s a fairly good-sized boot. The seating system is versatile; you can fold the rear bench down to increase the boot size. The interior is nicely designed with that sporty Italian styling. There’s a decent level of standard kit. It’s one of the sportiest in its class to drive. It handles really well, the steering feels well-weighted, and the firm ride only adds to the experience. It’s inexpensive enough to buy too.
Alfa Romeo 4C (13 - present)
One of the most reasonably priced 'supercars' on the market – the Alfa Romeo 4C drew gasps of admiration and sheer desire at it's reveal in Geneva in 2011, the way only Alfas can. Forgive us for the cliché but this is one car deserving of the description 'Italian supermodel'. The drive doesn't disappoint either offering the kind of gloriously exciting engine notes that you want to hear when you've shelled out north of €70,000 for a car, and the dual-clutch automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive make it a car that will put a smile on your face from both the cockpit and simply admiring it from your living room window. Its limited sales run means it doesn't have an official safety rating but the traction control will do its best to stop you ending up in a ditch, and dual airbags and a strong body shell should help protect you if you do.
Alfa Romeo Giulia (2016 - present)
Alfa Romeo have finally made good on their promise of a curvy Italian rival to the 3 Series/A4/C-Class stronghold, and boy did they deliver. A car so good-looking it will make you want to bite your lip, the Giulia might just be the saving grace for the brand here in Ireland, and indeed across Europe. Now that it's finally here, we can confirm it drives just as good as it looks. A silky smooth eight speed automatic gearbox is standard across the range, which includes the jaw-dropping Quadrifoglio performance model. The more realistic 2.2l diesel option is no slouch either - available in either 150 or 180hp guise, its low emissions and decent fuel economy help to keep running costs impressively low. The striking Italian design continues inside the cabin which houses a top-class infotainment system and a raft of other high-tech gadgets to play with.
We like it. We like it a lot.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta (10 - present)
Without a doubt the Giulietta is a stunning looking car. It’s slightly reminiscent of the much loved 4C supercar with its plunging bonnet and eclipse-shaped headlights. It was designed to be something different, given the sheer numbers of Volkswagen Golfs, BMW 1-Series, and Audi A3s being bought at the time. The styling is matched in the lovely cabin (although it is a bit crammed). Everything feels good to the touch and the seats are comfortable. There’s enough room to carry four with fairly decent leg room. It comes with 1.4 litre 120bhp/170bhp petrols, 1.6 and 2.0 litre diesels. Handling is excellent and it is well planted when on the road. The steering feels nicely weighted and responsive, while the ride quality can be a bit firm but that is part of the enjoyment.
Alfa Romeo GT (04 - 10)
This is one of the finest Grand Tourers on the road. A stunning car inside and out, it paved the way for what would be classed as one of the best looking cars on the road by Jeremy Clarkson, the Alfa Brera. Obviously there’s a lot more to the GT than just looks; it is value for money, one of the best to drive in its class and it has a lot of personality. The 3-door coupe comes with a range of powerful engines: the 1.8 and 2.0 petrol, 1.9 MultiJet turbodiesel and the popular 3.2 V6 petrol. Despite being a coupe, the GT is quite a practical family car and has decent storage capacity. It’s front wheel drive and the steering is nicely weighted; handling is great and makes for an involving drive. It is also well priced and one of the more reliable Alfas.
Alfa Romeo Mito (09 - present)
Since its release the Mito has divided opinions among Alfa enthusiasts. There’s no question Alfa made a major step forward with this in terms of resale value, reliability and fuel consumption. It is spacious for a car of its size and has decent storage capability. There’s a choice of some really good engines, including a 1.4 litre 78bhp and a 1.3 litre diesel. There are also more powerful options in the 1.6 JTDM diesel and the 1.4 litre turbocharged engine which can develop 135bhp. It is a great piece of machinery. It’s powerful, sporty, involving, and most of all it looks great. If you own an “ordinary car” and are considering changing to something a bit different, the Mito is worth thinking about.
Alfa Romeo Spider (96 - 04)
The Spider is a stunning looking soft-top convertible which drives and sounds great. It’s quite rare on Irish roads nowadays so if you’re looking for something different then it could be an excellent choice. There are two engines; the 2.0 litre TS which pushes out 150bhp and the 3.0 litre V6.FaceliftIn 2003 there were some changes to the front bumper, a newly designed grille and badge and new engines. The 2.0 litre 150bhp was replaced by a JTS direct-injection engine giving it 165bhp and the 3.0 V6 was replaced by the 3.2 V6.
Aston Martin DB9 (04 - present)
Famous for its cinematic roles as well as motoring prowess, Aston Martin is one of the quintessential British motor engineering giants. And the DB9 is the epitome of what they can do. This comes in two different body styles - the three-door coupe and the Volante (convertible). Don’t expect too much room - it is comfortable not cramped. This is all about power and the DB9 has a 6-litre V12 engine developing 450bhp allowing it to go from 0-60 in 4.6 seconds. It might be on the expensive side but you’ll feel it’s worth it when you hear the roar from the engine. It’s such a capable car although it does understeer a bit on corners (but that’s all part of the fun). It’s just as exciting to drive on the motorway as it is on a bendy country road; the ceramic brakes will stop you quickly if needs be and there’s plenty of muscle under the bonnet to pick up speed again.