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JT’s fleet: Range Rover’s burst it’s bag


J-T

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I recently bought one of these as my 'sensible' modern, so thought I'd document my exploits with it and give you a bit of review type nonsense...

 

As a bit of background, I've had a company car for years and have always had some chod alongside to mess about with. However, I made the decision to leave my job and go back to uni which meant all the chod had to go and I needed a sensible modern for the next couple of years. Initially, this took the form of an E39 530d Touring, which i liked very much. Unfortunately it was doing about 25mpg on my horrible new commute and had a few jobs needing doing, so employing my best man maths, the clear solution to this problem was to sell that for less than I paid for it after spending a few hundred on it for good measure and buy a dearer car that was more economical to *save money.... With me?

 

After the bimmer I decided I wanted something smaller and sportier but I still needed derv for economeee. I drew up a shortlist of a few motors and kept my eye on the usual sites. I was looking at Seat Leon FR+ (the ones that look like a Cupra R but have the 150PD engine), sort of looking at Golf 150PD but I had one years ago so didn't really want another. I did briefly consider a Renaultsport Megane DCI but that didn't last long (other than the obvious, I bought a Megane F1 R26 brand new and a DCI was never going to be as nice). So what did I end up with?

 

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To give it its full title, it is an Alfa Romeo 147 JTDM 16v Q2 Ducati Corse. What that is, if you were not already aware is basically a special edition, run-out model 147 diesel that gained an extra 20bhp (taking it to 170bhp), a limited slip diff, 18" wheels, the black-with-red-stitching leather interior out of the GT coupe and fetchng go-faster stripes. They were available in black, red or white and about 250 were made, so they're quite thin on the ground.

 

Values for them, if you can find them, are a little all over the place. This one was advertised privately on autotrader for the least amount of money I had yet seen and looked nice enough in the pics, with a fairly average 98k miles on it, so I drove down to Hinckley in the bimmer to check it out.

 

And it was....ok. Clean enough, but had seen some paint, the guy seemed genuine just not really a car guy. It needed disks & pads, the tyres were all good in terms of tread but all shitty no-names and the rear silencer was rotten. More pressing at the back of my mind was that I would be buying this at pretty much the worst possible moment - it's a 9 year old diesel, on its original clutch (which was fucking heavy) & turbo that was due a cambelt change. So what did I do? Kindly decline and carry on the search? Did I fuck! I knocked a good deal of money off and bought it anyway!

 

I've had it for a few months now and it hasn't been without issue. I shall type it up and give you my learned thoughts on it in a bit...

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Like it, the leather interior is the best thing about these cars, I bought the ex sporty-shite pre crashed 147 and ran it for a few months, it was a good car.

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First thing was to get the cambelt and waterpump sorted as there was no evidence they had ever been changed. I don't mind having a go at simple servicing tasks but cambelts are a bit beyond my realm and I didn't really want to be practicing on my only car, so this got farmed out to a local alfa specialist (although I suppose any garage could have done it, as it's just the 1.9 GM/Fiat/Saab engine fitted to absolutely loads of stuff). He confirmed it had been changed at some point but they hadn't used the newer metal impellor water pump and had smeared a load of sealant all over it when it just needs a gasket to seal, so it was good to get it done properly.

 

I decided to run it for a few weeks before spending more dollar on it and just see how it drove. I decided I did like it but the clutch was becoming worrisome. It was dead heavy and the pedal creaked. Some googling suggested they were known for a heavy clutch. Oh and creaky clutch: TADTS, which eased my mind a little. Until it developed a bit of a judder when taking up drive. This got worse over a couple of days, prompting me to think 'I really must get this checked on my day off'.

 

Unfortunately that never happened, as just as I was pulling into the carpark at uni, the day before my day off, it suffered total clutch failure. As I was pulling in, it got progressvely harder to engage gears, until I couldn't select a gear at all. I thought the slave had failed but no amount of pedal pumping made a difference, so I was stuck at the only entrance and exit to the carpark with about a 6" gap either side for people to get past. So about four weeks after purchase it assumed the natural alfa position and travelled home on the back of a truck (well, after being bullshitted by the RAC on an hourly basis as to an arrival time for a total of 4 hours it did).

 

This was not good. It has a DMF to further add to the misery. I knew this was not going to be cheap. I'd asked my Alfa guy for a quote when I had the cambelt done and he quoted £1000 for clutch & DMF. Whilst I was sat waiting, I rang my usual garage for a quote who came back with £900 so I had it taken to them. Actually, I didn't have it taken to them...because the RAC took 4 fucking hours to arrive, everywhere was shut so I had to have it taken home and tow it there myself the next day with old man J-T (rant over).

 

My joy was further bolstered on arrival when matey from the garage comes over looking a bit sheepish..."Errr, that price I gave you yesterday....well I didn't realise it was the 170bhp version. They use a different clutch to the 150bhp and there isn't an aftermarket part, so I'm gonna have to order it from Alfa Romeo and it's dearer. And they don't have it in and it'll take 2 days to get here" FUCKING WINNING!!

 

So my £100 saving ended up costing £80 more.

 

However, when I got it back, the car was so much better to drive. Clutch is light as a feather and no juddering and general awfulness. Still fucking stung though.

 

That was about 3 weeks ago. I've just taken it on a 1000 mile round trip to the Isle of Skye for new year so I'll write up how that went next.

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I want this car in my life.

 

Also, hear you about the water pump/cambelt/clutch/DMF conundrum.  I'm having the same thoughts about my car at the moment...

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These things are awesome, my wife had one for a couple of years but we sold it last year due to increasing numbers of children and she found it a bit hard to park/manoeuvre due to the long nose / low steering lock combo. 

 

Hers was a 8v 115JTD and I thought it went pretty well, so the 170 with the Q2 diff must be a hoot.

 

Sucks about the DMF etc but I reckon these will be worth something in a few years.

 

There are one or 2 near me and oddly they both look pretty abused with dinted doors etc - maybe the 2nd and 3rd owners don't generally appreciate them as much as the person who paid something like £18k new.

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So as I said, we booked a last minute trip to the Isle of Skye. If nothing else I'd hoped I'd get to bond with the car a bit more as it was at least an 850 mile round trip! This prompted me to tackle a couple of jobs before setting off.

 

A common problem with these is a 'sticky' gearshift where the gearstick won't return itself to neutral which this one was suffering from and made 3rd a bit hard to select until you got used to driving around the problem. I looked it up on the forums and it didn't seem like too difficult a job - battery out, battery tray out to give access to the top of the gearbox. That gives you access to this linkage setup

 

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You remove the nut, remove the linkage from the back of the bolt, then knock the long exposed bolt out, replace the bushes and lubricate it all

 

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I'd already bought the bushes off ebay (turned out one wasn't actually fitted) and used loads of red rubber grease, which got my gearstick action all lovely smooth and springy again.

 

The next job was that the windscreen washer motor was only working in reverse, so you pull the stalk towards you and nothing happens (meant to spray the windscreen), push it away and and it sprays the windscreen (meant to spray the rear windscreen). You can get access to the motor by unbolting the expansion tank and moving it out the way. This revealed that the one fitted isn't an original part, but my replacement part was also incorrect as it only has one outlet. Re-ordered the correct part and will try again.

 

Next, front brakes. I knew they were bad, but on closer inspection there was no way I was putting another 800+ miles on them, they were hanging! I'd already bought some Brembo disks & pads when ECP had a 50% off code so I set about stripping them down. The discs were that worn that I was able to remove them without removing the caliper carrier!

 

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The pad material was breaking down as well. How do I always end up buying cars with brakes like this? Anyway, the bastard fought me every step of the way. The disc retaining screws were seized (managed to get one off, snapped the other) and the caliper carrier bolts were mega mega seized. They broke my 1/2" 19mm socket. I thought it was game over but rememebered I had some impact sockets and the combination of those, a hammer, lots of plusgas and the biggest breaker bar I had shifted them. I really need a rattle gun for things like this as I'm always scared of shearing bolts. In terms of working on, it reminds me of the Fiat Stilo we had a few years ago (unsurprising as it's probably the same car), in that for its age, everything that *might be seized, *will be seized, more so than others of the same age. Just feels a bit built down to a price.

 

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I'll tidy those calipers up one day, they must be losing me 10bhp.

 

So with all that done, Skye happened! Have some pics of CAR in SKYE

 

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I'm happy to say 1000 miles completed without incident. So what's it like then?...

 

Well it's a bit of mixed bag. You may note from the pics that it's an 09 plate which is pretty much the very latest 147 you will find (I think there's a handful of 10 plates around). I mention this as it's worth remembering that the car was launched in 2000, so by rights it really should have been pensioned off at this point and it was a generation behind pretty much everything else. As a result. it doesn't feel like a 2009 car - there is no stop start, no touchscreen, no auto light/wipers, no elec handbrake etc etc. To most on here that's probably a bonus but it does feel odd when you see the plate.

 

It does feel nippy but if I'm honest, I expected a bit more shove saying it has 170bhp. I seem to rememebr my 150bhp golf feeling a bit quicker, although it does seem to have a better poweband than most diesels and relatively willing to rev so it may just be that it delivers it differently. They apparently remap to around 210-220bhp which should wake it up a bit. This model also has a 'sport' button which alters the throttle response, although like most of these features I've tried on other cars, I can barely tell the difference.

 

It handles very well. Lovely direct steering but it's a bit too firmly sprung. The trip highlighted this, as poor surfaces on a B road upset it quite easily and it gets very crashy. The wheels really don't help in that respect. They look nice (or would do if they were a bit tidier) and are specific to this model, but they make the car drive like it has oversize aftermarket wheels fitted. It reminds me of when I fitted 17" wheels to my Corolla GT when I was 18 - a car that came with 14" as standard. The tyres are 40 profile and I think it would drive better with 17" wheels and 45 profile tyres.

 

The there's the diff. Now there's no getting around that it does dominate the driving experience. I knew what I was getting into there as I've has LSD equipped cars before, but I can see how people really can dislike how they drive. The diff makes such a positive contribution to traction and handling feel (plant the throttle in the middle of a bend and it's crazy to feel how it literally drags the car further in to the line) that it sort of makes you put up with the side effects. Those being strange steering feel sometimes in normal driving; sometimes the wheel just feels dead then very suddenly wakes up and follows any ruts in the road to the degree that it can almost make you change lanes if you're not concentrating. It's quite tiring if you're not used to it.

 

Then there's the build quality. It's not that it's particularly bad, it just doesn't feel like a quality product. The stalks all feel a bit horrible to use. It squeaks and rattles. The driver's seat rocks about a bit - need to look into this, it's pissing me off. It has climate control but it's one of those crap systems that really were meant to just be manual aircon and and upgrade has been shoe-horned in so is completely unintuitive to use. But what did I expect??

 

On the plus side, I find it comfy and can sit in it and get a good driving position. I drove it for 8 hours and wasn't aching at the end. The seats are supportive and it delivered 48mpg on the run and I wasn't hanging about.

 

Next on the list...the inlet manifold is fitted with swirl flaps that like to break off and get ingested. There's conflicting advice on whether to just bin them or replace the manifold then map out the EGR valve to stop them getting clogged up again. Removing the manifold is also a right war - it's buried and the fuel pump has to come off. Not sure if I'm confident enough to have a go. In any case, it's probably planning to hoover them up next time I turn it on whlst I sit here planning to do something about them...it has form for that!

 

Here it is after 1000 miles. Needs a wash!

 

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These things are awesome, my wife had one for a couple of years but we sold it last year due to increasing numbers of children and she found it a bit hard to park/manoeuvre due to the long nose / low steering lock combo. 

 

Hers was a 8v 115JTD and I thought it went pretty well, so the 170 with the Q2 diff must be a hoot.

 

Sucks about the DMF etc but I reckon these will be worth something in a few years.

 

There are one or 2 near me and oddly they both look pretty abused with dinted doors etc - maybe the 2nd and 3rd owners don't generally appreciate them as much as the person who paid something like £18k new.

 

I meant to mention this - the turning circle on it is like a frigging oil tanker and yes, visibility out the back is shite

 

Reading that back, I sound like I'm proper slagging it, believe it or not, I do really like it. It's a lovely drive but as an overall package it's a bit flawed.

 

It'd be boring if it was perfect!

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I had a 2.0 Twin spark and loved it, you’re right about it it being ‘modern’ but they are a damn good laugh to drive although as noted, the turning circle is appalling, I’m amazed they found an open space big enough to measure it in the first place.

 

As for auto wipers/lights. It was possible to spec this and I think a lot is controlled in the firmware.

 

Do you have cruise too? That’s an easy retrofit.

 

I actually have a spare rear view mirror and bits for auto lights/wipers from my Alfa in a box.

 

I’ve tried giving away my Alfa spares box a few times with no joy so you’re welcome to it all for free.

 

The headlights are MK1 so no use but the other gubbins may come in handy sometime.

 

They’re in leeds but sure I can get them shitely delivered closer.

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I had a 2.0 Twin spark and loved it, you’re right about it it being ‘modern’ but they are a damn good laugh to drive although as noted, the turning circle is appalling, I’m amazed they found an open space big enough to measure it in the first place.

 

As for auto wipers/lights. It was possible to spec this and I think a lot is controlled in the firmware.

 

Do you have cruise too? That’s an easy retrofit.

 

I actually have a spare rear view mirror and bits for auto lights/wipers from my Alfa in a box.

 

I’ve tried giving away my Alfa spares box a few times with no joy so you’re welcome to it all for free.

 

The headlights are MK1 so no use but the other gubbins may come in handy sometime.

 

They’re in leeds but sure I can get them shitely delivered closer.

 

Aye it does have cruise, it's on a seperate stalk where you think the indicator should be when you first drive it.

 

That's very kind, thanks, I shall shout up if I'm heading up that way

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My only thought is... Those wheels look too big.

I tend to agree with Mr Martin. Obviously the wheels look great but maybe some of the crashiness could be toned down with a slightly less wheel and slightly more tyre?

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Is it on 18s?

 

16s or 17s are probably the sweet spot, "our" 147 had 15s with something like 195/60 tyres and could be smashed over speedbumps at 30ish* with impunity, but looked a bit tractor-y compared to yours.

 

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Yes they're 18s with a 40 profile tyre. Even the GTA only came with 17s as standard. This is the only model 18s were ever fitted to as far as I'm aware and as nice as they look it would drive better without them.

 

But if I took them off it would always bug me that it had the 'wrong' wheels fitted. Such is life!

 

I've just been googling tyre options as I hate having shit tyres on a fairly quick car. Its factory spec is 215 40 18, but that's a bit of a funny size. There's a lot more choice if you go up to 225 40 18 and they're cheaper. That would give me marginally more sidewall (but probably too little to notice). I'll have a poke about tomorrow and see what the clearance is like for 225s. It's a 7" wide wheel so they'll fit the rim, it's whether they'll clear on full lock etc.

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Cheap Teledials? Maybe 16's.

 

I'd want 17s really but 17" teledials aren't cheap

 

Gave it a quick wash today and checked out tyre clearances. It's pretty damn tight, I think 225s would rub against the strut so that's a no go. Shame as I'd found a full set of part worn Hankook Evo2s in that size on ebay that ended up going for £102.

 

Also swapped the washer motor and......it isn't the washer motor. Symptoms are the same on both: pull stalk towards you and nothing happens (should wash the front screen), push it away and it washes the front screen (should wash the rear screen). Presume either the stalk or wiring is at fault. Either way, I'll live with it!

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Like that a lot. Mrs S wants another 147, but something like this is a bit too tidy for her!

 

As for wheels, Mrs S's current steed, a GT, has 18s, and doesn't feel too bad. Then again, I'm used to a hard ride with the Clio!

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Guest StescoG66

I too have a bit of an Alfa fetish. I picked this up on 4th January so can I join your black Alfa club? Like you, not comvinced as to provenance of timing belt, so timing belt and full service getting done. Also - you car is also fitted with the dreaded GM M32 gearbox so change the oil and keep it topped up. Recommended is 2.3 litres however it is said that 2.8 should go in. Mine is whining like a wife checking a bank balance............

 

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Nice. Is that a TI?

It's half a Ti. It's an LE brought out at the time that Quantum of Solace - except its with a soot blower as opposed to the 3.2 V6 used in the film. Still a lovely car to drive though.

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Finally managed to sort an annoying feature of this car. Every time you depress the clutch there was a loud and annoying creak. It really didn't bother me at first but it had gotten to the stage where I heard it every single time and it was driving me insane. A search on the forums revealed this is really common and is usually caused by the top bush on the master cylinder rubbing on the clutch pedal as it is pressed. Probably easiest to explain with a picture...

 

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So that top bush passes through the clutch pedal via a clevis pin and the action of the rubber against the pedal is apparently what causes the noise. Here it is in situ

 

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I had all that apart (losing the bloody retaining clip in the process, arrrrrrgh) and gave it a good going over with some rubber grease, making sure there was a washer between the bush and the pedal aaaaand.....no difference whatsoever.

 

I noticed when the pedal was depressed that the bush was deforming quite a lot under load, so I figured it had gone soft and it was this that was causing the noise. Of course, this bush cannot be bought seperately and I wasn't paying £80 for a new master cylinder so thought I'd grab some lithium spray grease and drown it when a gap opened up around the bush as the pedal was depressed. This also didn't help.

 

So I went in and had a sulk. Another search of the forums to see if anyone had replaced this bush by chance revealed that someone else had cured this creak by spraying grease past the rubber boot on the rod of the master cylinder. I was pretty sceptical of this as the rod was well greased anyway but I gave it a go. Again pics probably help; it's the rubber boot to the right, at the end of the rod/shaft.

 

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Well bugger me, it only bloody worked. Could have saved myself an hour contorted in a very unnatural position under the dash and saved much of the skin on my knuckles, but this had really been pissing me off. One of those things that drives you disproportionately mad so I'm glad to have this silenced!

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Nice fix, if frustrating that you had to mess about so much to get there. 

 

Ours always did the clutch creak too but I never got asked to look.

 

Do keep an eye on the clip on the end of there, ours lost the clip once leaving her with no clutch, basically play in that big rubber bush thing meant that it was trying to move sideways as well as in and out and it broke the clip.

 

I replaced it with a big R-clip thing and it held up OK till we sold it. 

 

Seems a really weird place to have a big rubber bush to me, I bet with a bit of ingenuity you could replace it with nylon or something and probably get a better pedal feel?

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The whole setup seems a bit bloody heath robinson to me. I've a feeling the bush is there because the pedal doesn't 100% line up to the master cylinder as it's pressed and the whole thing needs a bit of give, but yeh it was my plan to try and find a polybush from something with similar dimensions and bosh that in if this hadn't fixed it. Apparently there was a dealer service bulletin to pack it out with washers to reduce the movement.

 

And I managed to jettison that troublesome clip up into the dash somewhere when I was *carefully taking it off! I've replaced it with a fairly meaty R-clip so hopefully that does the trick.

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Also swapped the washer motor and......it isn't the washer motor. Symptoms are the same on both: pull stalk towards you and nothing happens (should wash the front screen), push it away and it washes the front screen (should wash the rear screen). Presume either the stalk or wiring is at fault. Either way, I'll live with it!

Can you access where the pump connects to the bottom of the screenwash bottle? Only ask because I had my front & rear washer stop working on my ZT, turned out connection had come loose at the pump. Something similar but fixed wrongly by previous owner could cause your symptoms? i.e. front pipe connected where rear pipe should connect, and rear pipe come loose?

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I think someone has swapped the pipe connections round just so as there is some washer function to the front windscreen, as when you push the stalk away from you (which should wash the rear windscreen), the front screen is washed but the rear wiper activates.

 

If it was only that the connections were the wrong way round then in theory the rear windscreen should be washed when you pull the stalk towards you, but nothing happens at all so I presume it’s either a faulty stalk or a wiring fault

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