The Alfa Romeo 155 was in production from 1992 to 1998. The successor to the 75, it was available as a four-door saloon only. It is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive car styled by Ercole Spada.The Alfa Romeo 155 was launched in 1992 as a replacement for the 75. It marked a wholly new direction for Alfa as a manufacturer, front-wheel drive and platform sharing with Fiat were to become the norm. The 155 was based on the underpinnings of the Fiat Tipo, though retained Alfa Romeo engines and Alfa Romeo’s historic sporting pedigree.
The Alfa Romeo 155 was available as a 1.7-litre, 1.8-litre, 2.0-litre and a V6. Some diesels may have been imported, but you’re more likely to find the rare Q4.
Reception was muted at first –- as the car that replaced the last independent Alfa and the car that marked an end to rear-wheel drive, enthusiasts were understandably hesitant. Super and Sport models were available. The Super featured wood trim and nice seats while the Sport featured a lowered suspension and more aggressive damping.
1993 saw the grille move from a flush to a recessed position on the nose, while 1994 saw the launch of the Silverstone and Q4 models. 1995 saw the introduction of a new, wider bodyshell with flared wheel arches and an improved track. These cars also had a sharper steering rack, and 16v engines replaced the 8v four pots.
Over 190,000 Alfa Romeo 155s were produced in total. It was replaced in 1998 by the Alfa Romeo 156, marking the end of Alfa’s wedge-shaped design phase.
The Alfa Romeo 155 is derived from the Fiat Type Three floorpan –- a stretched version of the Tipo floorpan which sits under the Fiat Tempra and Lancia Dedra. However, it retains the Alfa Romeo Twin-Cam engines from the 75, in a variety of sizes spanning 1.7 to 2.0. The Alfa Romeo Busso V6 is also used in 2.5-litre form.
All 155s used 5-speed manual gearboxes, though a four-speed automatic was optional. All drove the front wheels. The rare import-only Q4 uses the drivetrain from the Lancia Delta Integrale, including its Twin-Cam engine and four-wheel-drive system.
Contemporary reviews criticised the handling of the 155, marking it as sloppy -– though the later wide body cars were much improved, and we should note the 155’s success as a touring car to boot.
The V6 is more nose heavy but more aurally pleasing, though keen drivers should look toward the 2.0 wide body Twin Spark model. Cambelts and variators are weak spots of the 16v engines –- check for replacement within 35,000 miles for the belt, while a worn variator will give your Alfa the diesel type rattle on startup.
V6s are hardier, as are 8v four cylinders. Front wishbones and rear brake calipers are known troublespots, while a radio with interference or reception issues can often be tracked to a broken heated rear screen element.
70% of the Alfa Romeo 155’s shell is galvanised, so rust shouldn’t be too big an issue. Check, however, that the floorpans are in good shape and that the rear quarter panels are solid. There is a cavity where 3 panels meet – if water gets in here the news is usually bad.
The most desirable Alfa Romeo 155 is the rare and never officially imported Q4, followed by the Silverstone edition and the 2.5 V6. Twin Sparks are better balanced, but ultimately less desirable.
Its sister, the Lancia Dedra, makes an intriguing alternative. However, better rivals would include the BMW E36 3 Series, Audi A4, and sporting versions of the Citroen Xantia and Peugeot 405. The Mercedes-Benz C Class, while in the same category, is not as rewarding a driving machine.