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Alfa Romeo 166

GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

alfa_166_2.5l.jpg

SPEX

Year: 1998
Country: Italy

Type: Sedan
Class: Executive Car
Host: GT2 & GT4

*includes spex for both the 2.0 and 3.0 V6 in GT2*

GT2 Price: 40,850 (2.0) to 50,990 (3.0)


Length: 185.8" // Width: 71.4" // Height: 55.7"
Wheelbase: 106.3"
Overhang: 6' 7"
Track: 60.8" [F] 60.3" [R]
Ground Clear: 6.1"
Weight: 3,130 to 3,328 pounds

Layout: Front Engine / Front Drive
Tires: 205/55WR-16
F. Suspension: double wishbone / coils / anti-roll bar
R. Suspension: multilink / coils / anti-roll bar
Brakes: vented discs / solid discs

Engines: 2.0 DOHC inline 4 & 3.0 DOHC V6
Aspiration: normal
Valves/ Cyl: 4
Bore x Stroke: 3.31 x 3.54" // 3.66 x 2.86"
Compression: 2.0? // V6=10.0:1
 
Horsepower: 151 @ 6,300 rpm // 247 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque:
```````138 @ 3,800 rpm // 206 @ 5,000 rpm
 
Pounds / HP: 20.73 to 13.5
Hp / Liter: ````76.6 to 83.5
Credits / HP: 270.53 to 206.44
 
Redline: 7,500 (2.0) 7,000 (V6)
RPM Limit: 8,000 in both engines

Transmission: 5-Speed Manual (2.0 ts) 6-Speed Auto (3.0 V6)

TESTS```````````2.0 ts `````````````````` 3.0 V6
0-60 mph:    8.344                   6.07 seconds
0-100mph:   25.634                17.05 seconds
 
 
400 M:    16.548 @ 83 mph     14.91 @ 93 mph
1 KM:     
30.573 @ 107 mph   27.07 @ 121 mph
 
Test Track:    2:01.443                1:46.229

Top Speed at Redline
1st: ``36 mph                         36 mph
2nd: ``61 mph                        61 mph
3rd: ``90 mph                        90 mph
4th: ``118 mph                     118 mph
5th: ``136.65 @ 6,900 rpm    141 mph
6th: ``Nil                        158.37 @ 6,750 rpm
 

alfa_166_cornering.jpg

 
 
------------------------EXTERIOR-----------------------

Today is May 22nd, 2006, and I literally just realized this website is now 2 years old. Cool. Very cool! What am I doing about it? Well I'm not having any party. Uh, no champagne or girls, not even a bonghit! ;) I'm just lying in bed waiting for sleep with a couple homeopathic Hyland's Calm pills down my throat. And instead of a party, I have a question: What has your Gran Turismo experience been lately?

Most of us are no doubt exploring GT4. Me? I've been plugging away at the long list of races in GT3...a full 4 years behind the rest of the world. Not only that, but lately I even went back and did several races in GT2! How's that for regression?


So the latest car I drove is (get ready) the Alfa Romeo 166 2.0 TS 16v. Not exactly the cream of the GT crop, I realize, and I know you just can't hold your enthusiasm any longer, but just bear with me. I've actually been curious about the 166 (and the slightly smaller 156) for awhile now. After all, they are loser cars in GT2...and to me ‘loser’ is just another word for ‘challenge’! Rarely do I back down from a true autonomous challenge (at least in videogame driving sims).

 
For my latest foray, I took the 2.0 to the Trail Mountain Enduro. Seemed appropriate since Alfas occasionally make an appearance at this event, and perform no better than bagpipes at an Ashram. Watch them as they sluggishly make it around the track's fifteen curves....taking a pit after a miserable 8 or 9 laps! Ooof. Well guess what? I didn't lose! I didn't think I would, but I was also surprised at how driveable this car actually is...especially when compared to the lighter 155. I even raced against the leading Lotus sports car a full 16 laps till my front tires were going red. Why is it that the drones can't do this? I also recently raced the biggest, baddest 166 of all: the 3.0 V6! Please...hold your applause...and ladies...keep your panties on till after this thrilling review. But stick aroudn till...after the review. ;-D

Like other ARs, you can buy the 166 and have it your way with many different colors to choose. But beware: these are heavy models and not suitable for many. Some of them can be race-hopped, but for the purpose of this review I drove with stock body parts or (at the most) a Stage 1 weight reduction. Which is almost the same thing in Gran Turismo 2, unlike any other GT where Stage 1 removes a significant amount of weight.

So let's go to the races, shall we?
 
 

-----------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN----------------

Depending which game, there are up to three engine sizes to choose from. None of these are too large because in Italy (where engine size is strictly taxed), they can't go crazy with displacement like we can in America. Sure, we Americans have SUV and “Gas Guzzler” taxes placed on new cars, but compared to Europe, our fees are a slap on the fender. Most Americans are clueless idiots as well. Hey, just try whining about $3 a gallon gas over in Turin...see how long you'll last without having a tomato thrown at your ass.

 
 
 
...Uh....where was I? Oh. Okay...talking about engine displacement.

The 166 is featured in both GT2 and GT4, but not found in GT3. GT2 boasts the most variety: three different engines can be tried for the same car! Driving a 166 with the 2.0 liter inline-4, and then driving the same car with the larger 3.0 liter V6 is worth a try. There is also a 2.5 liter, but I'm going for extremes here. The 166 series in GT4 only comes with the 2.5, so I'm currently going to discuss those three 166s of GT2. Confused? 
 
Anyways, it's possible to really notice the difference between those two engines (2.0 and 3.0) when driving one after the other. Driven nearly stock, the 2.0 always feels like it's struggling. It whines with a lack of power, yet can get the job done during some easier races, surprisingly. The only good thing of merit at first is the 2.0's 7,500 rpm redline...often you'll need to use it all when trying to leave a corner in 2nd gear. But for the most part, shifts can take place early since peak power falls somewhere in the sixes.

Add a Stage 1 turbo (235 hp @ 6,600 rpm) and things improve drastically! Two better turbos can be added for a total possible output of 356 hp and 287 ft-lbs @ 6,100 rpm. Does anybody else notice a weird anomaly here? The Alfa Romeo 155 has the same exact Twin-Spark 2.0, yet it can't be pushed as far as the 2.0 in the 166. Okay, I give up on that one.

No matter what the upgrades, the 2.0 liter 16 valve 4-cylinder never feels as confident as the 3.0 24 valve V6...but this is mostly due to the nearly 3,000 pounds this engine is forced to carry. While the 2.0 struggles to climb hills and sweats the corners, the larger engine definately shows its prowess. Launching from a dead stop (even when stock), the 3.0's throttle must be tamed...you can get a better launch with high revs in 2nd gear once you're using some power, assuming you're trying to avoid wheelspin off-the-line.

The main difference on the aftermarket? The six can only be boosted with naturally-aspirated power, while the four accepts turbos. Once you've got your 3.0 at or near the max (416 hp @ 8,000 rpm with 287 ft-lbs. @ 6,100) you'll begin to see signs of its mojo: when you're leaving tight corners, the inside front-wheel will smoke with passion if a limited-slip differential is missing. A maxed 166 will also need to be driven with more purpose or it will (finally) understeer. More on that in the next section.

Finally, there's the transmission. I like Alfa trannies, what can I say? Not too tall, not too short. The 2.0 has a 5-speed, and rarely is the 3.0's extra gear missed, matter of fact.

Wow, I'm doing it...I'm actually writing about a boring car! But is it really that boring? I don't think so...
 

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

Hey, I'm not bored! Anything but!!!! The 166 really surprises here. Like any other front-drive sedan, it has faults; yet understeer is rarely one of them. Yes. You read that right.
 
GT2
I don't know what it is...maybe I'm getting too good as a driver or something, but the 166 really seems like it wants to please in the handling department. Sometimes it tries too hard, and sometimes it fails, but most of the time...this 3,000 pound sedan does what it's told, and gets it right. Perhaps it's the shape of the car. Look at it. Hey I realize it's not gonna win any long lusty stares from our eyes the way a Lamborghini would, but there are some details to take notice here.

It is heavy and longish, yet a good portion of its weight is in the middle where that spacious 106" wheelbase rests. And in any of these cars, the engine / transmission isn't gonna be too heavy (not like a V8 in a Taurus gaah!) so it seems the weight is near-balanced. Neutral cornering! The front-end has no spoiler...but that aerodynamic nose does wonders as speed rises. Finally, this is one of those sedans that doesn't have a trunk the size of a Queen mattress.

So that's some good stuff.....But I'm ready to dig up some dirt on the 166, how about you?

So far as actual negative handling qualities go, typical 166 issues include: a grippy front-end that sometimes forgets about the twelve feet of steel BEHIND the steering column (oversteer). Also, we have a bit of leaning and instability thru sharp corners (grip-loss), too much weight, and at worst, a tendency to slide out of place. It is possible to spin-out in this one! Its confidence can at times become its nemesis, see?

All of these faults tend to be present in a completely stock 166, or a stronger one on inferior tires. When it is near-stock, late-braking is not an option; and wouldn't be for an experienced racer anyways--who knows better than to late-brake into turns lest understeer start to dominate. But once  a well-tuned semi-racing or full-racing suspension is underneath, even THIS changes, for we can all the sudden brake as late as we please (assuming the driver has some skill), and the Alfa will comply, even on stock or sports tires! A 3.0 version car with Stage 3 power will need some medium slicks at the least. If lesser tires are used, there'll finally be some understeer.

Am I shocked by this? HELL YEAH I am! I expected to write about how sucky the 166 is in the handling department, this is totally what I was gearing for...but it just wouldn't be true. Not only is braking decent, but this car seems made for out-of-corner response; and rarely does understeer take over when we're getting back on the gas. The 166 is a touring car...a cruising machine in real-life. Long straights and gentler curves are gladly devoured by them, which can handle Apricot Hill's turn 6 and Grand Valley's long tunnel curve in the high 90s with the right tires!

Then again, the 166 ....how shall I say...seems to be a dust-collector, as all Alfas are except for the red 4WD Alfa 155 Touring Car in the Special Lot, or the Alfa Spider of GT4. The 166 is a deep-sleeper and almost never gets its chance to impress in GT forums. I mean, let's be honest.

It deserves better. As they say in Italian....oh never mind.
 

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

1). THREE powerplant choices. Though this seems unnecessary, try entering the 3.0 in some B-license races. It can't be done. So lesser-powered versions have their place in GT2.

2). A definate snoozer car, which adds to its uniqueness. It rarely gets picked yet has many pluses including:

3). Lots of engine or turbo upgrades.

4). Great front-end handling! Understeer is the least of our worries in this front-drive if we know when to brake and stuff. This is truer in GT2 than GT4, of course.

5). Lots of paint available. Your favorite flavor is probably available.

6). How many front-drive sedan series in GT2 can make their way from the Sunday Cup all the way to the Tuned NA and GT Regionals?
 

CONS--------------------------------------

1). No race kit available for ANY of the 166 cars.

2). GT2: Though the front-end generally has the traction of an Abrams, the rest of the car is prone to ...well, just about any negative handling trait possible. But most racing veterans won't find it excessively bad.

3). Heavy...

4). A bit pricey for a car hardly anybody wants to race.

5). The 2.0 Twin Spark 16v engine works alot better in the Alfa 145; where it's not saddled with all that weight.

6). The more potent 3.0 engine tries too hard sometimes. If GT2 was more realistic (the way GT3 is) this would mean you would need a differential to tame it more often.

7). Not an easy car for a beginner, most of whom can be found driving Hondas and Mitsus, anyways.

8). It is possible to badly tune a 166 suspension. Ground clearance in particular is tempting to lower--over bumps and grids, the long wheelbase won't like this at all. Nada. 

9). GT4: only one engine available in a 166, unlike in GT2 where we had three choices (2.0, 2.5, 3.0).


 
Published: May 24, 2006

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