The Alfa Romeo 166 was introduced in 1998 into the premium large car segment as a replacement to the Alfa Romeo 164, which had been developed in cooperation with Saab, Fiat and Lancia. The 164 had been on the market for 11 years before being replaced by the 166, which was exceptionally long. There were two reasons for this: Alfa Romeo had brought a couple of very important models to the market in the mid-’90s and these cars, the Alfa Romeo 145/146, GTV and Spider, had cost the company a lot of money and attention. Secondly, Alfa Romeo decided to replace the 155 first, as the Alfa Romeo 156 was expected to become a major success and they hoped this success would help other models that would be introduced after it. So when the 166 finally came to the market, many former 164 owners had already switched to other brands. Besides that, the high depreciation of large Italian cars didn’t help the model either.
Production of the front-wheel drive only 166 was ceased in 2007 without a direct successor. The platform of the 166, on which the Lancia Kappa was also built, was then sold to the Chinese automaker GAC, who used it to produce the Trumpchi sedan and Trumpchi GS5 for the Chinese market. Plans for a next generation Alfa Romeo large sedan have been postponed several times since 2008 and have been altered a few times in Sergio Marchionne’s four different turnaround plans for the brand. The latest plans are for a rear-wheel drive sedan and possibly a station wagon based on the platform of the Maserati Ghibli, for a market introduction in 2015. The name is rumored to be Alfa Romeo Alfetta, which reminds of the sports sedan in the 1970s and ’80s.
Sales of the Alfa Romeo 166 peaked at 26.329 cars in 1999 and decreased every year since, with the exception of 2004, when sales rebounded shortly thanks to a facelift in 2003, which dropped the criticized drooping headlights to give the car a more confident stance and more family resemblance to the already updated Alfa Romeo 156. Total sales in Europe are less than 100.000 units.
Annual sales figures for the Alfa Romeo 166 in Europe.
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