How to buy a classic motorcycle in SA?

'There are a few things you need to consider,’ writes bike guru Dries Van der Walt.

Top family cars in SA

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post has gone from a 'SpeedQueen' to a supermom. Check out her list of top family cars.

Reader test: Alfa Romeo 147

2009-01-28 07:03

David Bing, Durban

It was a year ago that I became the proud owner of a 2001 Alfa Romeo 147 1.6 T-Spark. It has been a year of ups and downs with the car, but all in all, after a year of Alfa ownership, I am still as in love with the car today as I was when I first took delivery.

The Engine

The engine in the car is something truly special. It’s a 1.6 litre unit with four valves per cylinder and DOHC. It develops 88 kW of power at 6 200 r/min and loves to be revved. The car is able to reach 100km/h in 10.6 seconds and a top speed of 198 km/h.

Driving slowly can prove frustrating as there is not much torque down low in the rev range, however plant your right foot and your smile just gets bigger and bigger. Fuel consumption is not bad, averaging around 10 l/100 km.

Exterior and interior

This is what drew me to Alfas in the first place.

I think the 147 is still the best looking hatchback on sale today; it is simply gorgeous.

The interior of the car continues this trend and is a joy to behold. It is beginning to look dated these days, but is still a wonderful place to be. The seats are comfortable and very supportive, the dials are attractive, especially at night with their red backlighting and visibility out of the cabin is generally good.

The car comes loaded with equipment such as ABS, EBD, ASR, electric windows and side mirrors, power steering, central locking and air-conditioning.

However it must be noted that the ventilation system is horrible. The air con works well, however the fans are not up to the job of blowing the air into the cabin and can do nothing more than a cool breeze.

Access to the rear seats is difficult, however that is always going to be an issue in a three-door hatchback.

The drive

This is where the car is truly amazing. The power steering is fairly light but tells you exactly what the front wheels are doing, and there is a ton of grip from the fully independent suspension.

The brakes are fantastic with discs all-round and a very firm pedal. All of this adds up to a car which is a lot of fun to drive down a twisty road. The only issues I have is that the ride is quite firm, and can get a bit uncomfortable over a bumpy road, and in the wet the handling is no longer brilliant with a lively back end.

The Alfa issues

Yes, it is an Alfa, and what Alfa would be complete without a few visits to the workshop. We have had our fair share of problems, however the majority of these were wear-and-tear problems indicating to me that perhaps the previous owner was a bit hard on the car.

I truly love this car; I am hooked on Alfas for life and look forward to owning many, many more.

Inside Wheels24

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.