There’s surely no better illustration of the bizarre motoring times we live in than a 17-year-old Alfa Romeo hatchback with 72,000 miles having recently sold for only around £7000 less than it cost new. But that’s modern classics for you, and despite all its faults, the 147 GTA can quite justifiably be called a classic.
Faults? Only if 247bhp through the front wheels alone doesn’t strike you as particularly sensible. Ditto a nose-heavy set-up that made many 147 GTAs take a straight line through a corner (a limited-slip differential was an option for a time) and brakes that were distinctly below par (larger front discs were also briefly an option before becoming standard).
However, if you think prices that start at around £8000 and peak at twice that are just another symptom of today’s overheated post-pandemic car market, think again. They’ve been steadily climbing for the past four years. Back in 2017, you could pick up a 147 GTA for around £4000.
Whether £4000 or £8000, though, no one buys a cheap 147 GTA and thinks they’ve got a good deal. There will always be work needed. Around £12,000 is where genuinely good cars start, although you will need to keep on top of things and prepare to spend big now and again – and that’s without considering its day-to-day costs (expect around 23mpg and new front tyres every 5000 miles). That’s £12,000 for a manual car, by the way. Automatics (with a robotised manual called Selespeed) are a little cheaper. They’re mostly Japanese imports with lower mileages and in good condition, but Alfisti reckon the stick-shifters are the ones to have.
Anyway, enough cold water: the 147 GTA is simply one of the great hot hatches. It’s powered by a 3.2-litre 24-valve V6, fondly called the Busso V6 after Giuseppe Busso, the Alfa engineer who designed the original 2.5-litre version in the 1970s. It has achieved legendary status, admired for its muscular, sweet-revving and sonorous nature. It looks good, too, with its six polished intakes. It produces 247bhp, which was quite a thing in 2002 and more than the Audi S3 and Volkswagen Golf R32. However, both of these rivals were four-wheel drive, leaving the front-led 147 GTA with some serious questions to answer when the road turned difficult. Dangerous flaw or thrilling characteristic? You decide.