Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0

There are four engines available - two petrol and two diesel, and you won't be disappointed by any of them. The 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre Twin Spark petrol engines, with 120bhp and 150bhp respectively, are free-revving and enthusiastic but for a better blend of economy and punchy performance the acclaimed JTD units are the clear choice. The 1.9-litre engine is available in two outputs, either 120bhp - and from 2005, 150bhp.

The latter may be the most expensive in the range but it's superb with bags of pulling power, plus it's the only car available with a six-speed manual gearbox. The rest all get five ratios while a Selespeed automatic gearbox was also available. There's also a hot hatch GTA version powered by a superb 3.2-litre V6 engine. It sprints from 0-60mph in just 6.1 seconds but it's expensive to run with big fuel bills.

Alfa usually produces cars that handle well and a 147 is no exception. It's as sporty as it looks, composed in corners, with slick steering and a fluid gearchange. The suspension is stiff, which makes for a rough ride over poorly-laid roads, although it's fine around town and on the motorway while the brakes are responsive and provide ample stopping power.

The Q2 model launched in 2007 benefits from a limited slip differential. Available only on the 150bhp diesel, the system provides an extra level of traction that really makes itself felt when making a quick getaway from a junction, or charging out of a tight corner.