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Virtual Adviser's™ opinion
Two significantly similar cars, no doubt about that. Still, each one has something different to offer. Having both cars powered by petrol engines and utilizing the 4-door sedan body style within the same 'Large family car' segment, the only major difference here really is their wheel drive configuration (front for the Alfa Romeo and rear in the case of the BMW). The first one has a Alfa Romeo-engineered powertrain under the hood, a 4-cylinder, 16-valves 165hp unit, while the other one gets its power and torque from a 4-cylinder, 16-valves 143hp engine designed by BMW.Safety
The fact that the BMW got tested by the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP), while the other contender didn't, offers a slight advantage, as the 4-star rating is better than none. Still, apart from the official crash test results there are other things we need to be aware of. Both vehicles belong to the large family car segment, which is generally a good thing safety-wise, still it doesn't help us solve our dilemma, does it? On the other hand, when it comes to weight, a factor that most people underestimate, the German car offers a marginal difference of 3% more metal.Reliability
I don't like generalizing things when it comes to reliability, although it does seem that BMW does have a slight advantage, all the models observed together. That's the official data, while our visitors describe reliability of Alfa Romeo with an average rating of 4.2, and models under the BMW badge with 4.3 out of 5. The same official information place 156 as average reliability-wise, and 3 Series is more or less at the same level.Above it all, drivers of cars with the same engine as the Italian car rank it on average as 3.7, while the one under the competitor's bonnet gets 4.5 out of 5.Performance & Fuel economy
Alfa Romeo is undoubtly more agile, reaching 100km/h in 1.1 seconds less than its competitor. In addition to that it accelerates all the way to 220 kilometers per hour, 2km/h more than the other car. When it comes to fuel economy the winner has to be the German car, averaging around 7.2 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (39 mpg), in combined cycle. We can't ignore that 19% difference compared to the Italian car.
BMW appears just a bit more reliable, although the difference is truly marginal. The most important thing when deciding between any two vehicles should always be safety, both passive and active. In my opinion, everything taken into account, the German car beats the other contender by far, making it the best choice without even considering other things. From there things take a different direction, with Alfa Romeo being considerably quicker, thus putting more smile on driver's face. It does come at a cost though, and that's the fuel consumption... All together, there's not much more to say, in this case I wouldn't even consider anything but BMW. In any case that's my personal view, built upon all the data available to me. What should decide here though is the way you feel about the two vehicles, and I hope you'll find my guidelines useful in the process. In case you have two minutes to spare I invite you to define your needs, desires and budget and see which car would be chosen by the virtual adviser™, out of 12.000+ vehicles we currently have in our database.