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Alfa Romeo 155

GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

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SPEX

Published: September 7, 2004
 
Year: 1998
Type: sedan
Class: compact

Country: Italy
Host: GT2

Price: 11,860


Length: 175" // Width: 68.1" // Height: 56.1"
Wheelbase: 100"
Overhang: 6.25'
Track:
Ground Clearance: 6.1"
Tires: 205/45-16
Brakes: vented discs
F. Suspension: MacPherson strut
R. Suspension: trailing arms
Weight: 2,865 lbs.

Engine: 2.0 liter DOHC inline-4 (1970 cc)
aspiration: natural
 
Tested HP: 151 @ 6,300 rpm
Tsd Torque: 138 @ 3,500 rpm
 
Credits / HP: 78.54
Lbs. / HP: 18.97
Hp per liter: 76.64
 
Fuel System: EFi
Valves per Cyl: 4
Redline: 7,000 // RPM Limit: 8,000
Bore x Stroke: 3.31x3.54"

Transmission: 5-speed automatic

Layout: Front Engine/Front Drive

0-60 mph: 8.7
0-100mph: 26.1
 
400 M: 16.996 @ 82 mph
1 KM: 30.937 @ 107 mph

Test Track: 2:01.210

Top Speed at Redline
1st: 39 mph (@7,200 rpm)
2nd: 63 mph
3rd: 94 mph
4th: 124 mph
5th: 139.42 @ 6,700 rpm 

----------------EXTERIOR / HISTORY------------------- 

For all those who jumped into GT2, and wanted to also jump into a European automobile (especially PAL users), the 155 may have been one of your first choices, and why not? The low price and Alfa's famous racing reputation may have edged your decision. So let's look a bit further...past the leather-wrapped steering wheel and Recaro seats.

Any honest fan of Alfa Romeos will be rather disappointed by the selection of Alfas available in GT2, which is limited to just a few 2-door modern models and none of the classics. Where, for instance, is the Spider? The GTA? GTV6? Seriously, most of Alfa's famous cars were roadsters, targas, and coupes, so it's rather a shame that only two 2-seaters are in GT2 (the Spider 2.0 and GTV). Not only that, but they're front-drive, and kinda ugly too. Seems as if the coachbuilder who designed these shoulda took a look at some earlier examples of Alfa's finest, don't you think?

At least the 155 is a handsome car; it doesn't have the flickted look of the Spider. The low, boxy front-end combined with the bulky trunk area somehow works, and doesn't have that 'unfinished' look about it that plagues some other Daliesque Italian cars.

The 155 TS was released in 1992 as a replacement for the Alfa 75 series, and with it came the abandonment of rear-wheel drive for these sedans. It has typical mid-size dimensions, yet it suffers from a high center of gravity at times, leading to plenty of tipping and rolling once you get a couple wheels over one of those corner grids. Weight reductions won't cure this problem much, but you should get a couple anyways.

The 155 comes in 10 colors. Like all Alfas, the grille makes this one immediately recognizable as part of a heritage that goes back almost 100 years. Now does this carmaker's racing history filter thru?   How does this particular model fare on Gran Turismo pavement? 
 


---------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN--------------
Unlike other some Alfa models in GT2, the 155 only has one engine size. The 156 and 166es both have 3 engine sizes each to choose from: 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0 liters; an odd flexibility of choice that the 155 apparently misses out from! But there's a reason.

TS. That stands for 'Twin-Spark', and to answer your next possible question: yes, that also means the Alfa 155's engine does have two spark plugs per cylinder. This is an important detail for a car that's made in a country in which emission standards are lacking. Gotta make sure as much fuel as possible gets burnt. Starting in 1995, the twin spark also got a double overhead cam and variable valve timing--which helped modernize the car.

About the only thing of merit here (at first, anyways) is the famous Alfa snarl, which just sounds beautiful, man. Performance is lacking, unfortunately. It's not horrible, but zero to 100 mph in 26 seconds isn't stellar either. Even some of the tame BMWs up in North City can do way better than this! So let's get some parts under that hood to augment this sporty but friendly passenger car.

What we have to work with are 3 stages of normally-aspirated tuning, which will boost power to a maximum of 270 hp....Ummm. Ugh.... Yeahhhhh. Sorry, Alfa, that's just not enough. The lowest power to weight ratio we can acheive here is 9.44. I've won plenty of races in a 155, but they were all B and A-license events...not the hard stuff. It's a good thing this car, at just over $11,000, is so affordable. Imagine paying like $40,000 for it, only to realize it's not even gonna break the regionals, and half the special races will be unobtainable losses? Those who want more go will need to invest time and credits in one of Alfa's more expensive models. Which is usually the way it works anyways. :)

Alright. So let's say some nice things about the 155. To start, the 7,000 rpm redline is good. The gearbox is also good. You won't need anything other than the close-ratio unit with single-plate clutch if you want to be money conscious. The power curve is also respectable.

Oh, and there's a Special model 155...the Touring Car. This is like the regular model x1000. It boogies and shakes with a fancy all-wheel drive platform, and can win just about higher-echelon GT2 event despite its seeming lack of power (about five-hundred something). I just won 4 of out 5 World Cup races with it; losing to the GT40 at Rome. But this review isn't about the Touring Car per se so let's move on.. 
 

--------------CHASSIS / HANDLING-----------------

In 1995, another upgrade for the 155 was the addition of 40 extra milimeters of track, in an attempt to help stabilize the car. Maybe this did wonders for its pedestrian life, but on the tracks, it doesn't seem enough.

At a track like Mid-field, the Alfa 155 does okay. Now take it to a more European road like Rome's Full Circuit or Trail Mountain. Uh-oh...guess the dealer didn't warn you of what was to come.


Understeer?
*check*

Unwanted body sway?
*check*

Poor lateral grip?
*triple-check*.

It seems that if this car were a little wider..maybe even a couple inches, most of its fishtailing could be solved. The front end steering of the 155 is quick, too, meaning that if you push your dual-shock joystick too much, the car will easily comply...leading to too-much corner grabbing. This can be solved somewhat if you buy a 1-way differential, but this device also induces more understeer.

Also recommended is the semi-racing suspension. Lowering the car will help reduce body sway, but again--it won't solve it. Ticking down ground clearance is about the best thing you can do to start combating some negative traits here.

I've always fantasized that all Alfas (even their sedans) were made to handle well, so now the bubble is burst! At stage 2, the car is just barely controlable with sport tires, even though the engine is only pushing 237 hp. Sure, you can brake early and stuff, and out-corner the competition with a well-timed E-brake maneuver, but for some, the 155 experience is therefore ruined.

You'll only see the Alfa 155 handling like a charm if you've got the racing body kit for it. All the sudden, it's a hell of a lot easier to control; you can even use the rear body weight to ‘pivot’ the car thru turns if you've got the suspension set up properly. But if there's no racing kit, the handling borderlines on sucky. Sorry, but it's true. 

Let's get back to the 155 Touring Car, which is leagues ahead of its civilian cousin, but also isn't anywhere near-perfect at the high speeds one is forced to drive it in some of GT2's fastest. Its handling is a mixture of too much grip, a lot of bounciness, boxy crack-induced sliding, and generally you'll have your hands full. That doesn't mean it won't win, tho, because it will, if you're skillful.

Back to the reguar sedan. At times, I like driving the 155 TS hard, anyways. You can learn to safely understeer it into corners (once you know its limits), sliding past that stubborn Volkswagen Golf at the bottom of the Deep Forest hill, and it will win races; provided they're not too speedy. You can get around this car's lacks in the handling department if you persist in learning how it drives. It's possible..but it's also not for most racers. Why? Because they want to go faster.

There seems to be a reason Alfas are frequently being portrayed as losers in the game! Now we know why. 
 

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PROS-----------------------------------------

1). Very affordable. It almost seems the dealer can't wait to get this one off the lot!

2). Good looking. One of the more distinctive looking sedans in the game. 10 colors available.

3). Gotta love that Alfa snarl!

4). A lover of under-drift (messy, front-end understeer-drifting) might find a challenge here. 

5). Racing kit available. It helps alot, too. 


 
CONS

1). Average acceleration and speed on the streets. Below average if we're talking pure racing capabilities.

2). Poor engine modifications available. Only 270 hp are possible in a 155, yet it costs lots of money for stage 3 tuning. No turbos.

3). Handling pretty much blows. Lots of understeer, fishtailing, tuck-in, FWD traction-loss, body sway, etc. A novice will need racing slicks with stage 1 engine tuning.

4). Poor power to weight ratio, even with body weight minimized all the way to stage 3.

5). You either love the lesser Italian cars of GT2, or you wish they could simply be replaced by all those missing Ferraris and Lambos. Can't blame ya.

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