The 147 was launched at the 2000 Turin Motorshow as a replacement for the aging 145 & 146 hatchbacks, and is based on the 156 saloon. It is available with 1.6- and 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engines and a 1.9-liter diesel engine. The 147 received considerable praise for its styling on launch, and is still considered to be one of the best-looking cars in its class. Its handling was also praised, in spite of criticism regarding the light (sensitive) steering, which makes some drivers feel less involved. However, light steering does help during parking manuevers. Other criticisms of the 147 included a cumbersome gearshift, unsupportive seats and the lack of interior space compared to its rivals. The car became well-known for its engine note, which is unusually mellifluous for a car of its class. The 147 was also voted European Car of the Year for 2001.
The 147 suffers from poor resale value. One of the main reasons for this is the bad reputation Alfa Romeo and Italian marques in general have for reliability and durability, though the 147 has so far proven itself to be considerably more reliable than previous generations of Italian cars. However, this is mostly because customers usually opt for manual transmissions and avoid the V-6 powered GTA. Nevertheless, even though major breakdowns are not a serious problem for the 147, smaller, mostly electronic faults are (e.g., warning lights unnecessarily coming on and engine oil being burned even in brand-new engines).
The high-performance 147 GTA model was launched in 2002. The GTA used a 3.2 V6 engine, produced 250bhp and could exceed 150mph; the use of the V6 engine being quite unique in a car of its size. Its competitors in Europe include the Audi A3 3.2 and the Renault Sport Clio V-6 (a car that pioneered the concept of the powerful V6 hot hatch in 2001). The GTA is lighter than both of these rivals, despite producing around the same level of power.
The entire 147 range was revamped in 2004, with the exterior styling changed considerably to be more reminiscent of the new 159 and Brera models.