A wide range of engines have been fitted to 156 from a basic-but-lively 1.6 T-Spark to a 3.2 V6 fitted to the electrifying GTA. The 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre petrol models are the best all-rounders offering flexible performance with reasonable economy. The 156 also gets Fiat/Alfa Romeo's acclaimed common-rail JTD diesel engines. The 1.9-litre is willing, refined, economical, and - after 2002 - boasts 150bhp (up to 2002 it was 136bhp).
For more performance there's also a 2.4-litre diesel.
Behind the wheel, the 156 is everything you'd expect from a fiery Italian with involving handling and keen cornering abilities. Push on and it remains very confident and secure while the sharp steering offers plenty of feedback. It also feels nimble around town and is happy to dart in and out of traffic, although it can be frustrating if fitted with the Selespeed semi-automatic gearbox.
It suffers on motorways where the ride is firm and wind and road-noise are above average.