Alfa Romeo 145 and 146

Alfa 145

Being given the upgraded power train and suspensions, Alfa Romeo 145 and its 5-drs version 146 finally makes itself stand away from the dozen of Golf-class competitors in Europe. Competitions in Europe is going to be tougher and tougher. Every car makers are working hard to improve quality, design, practicality while cutting cost. Alfa should have known a lot earlier that it has to be Italy's BMW, that is, emphasis on sporty image, otherwise it can hardly survive. Though late, at least it finally find its way. With the root-deep sporty reputation established by Giulietta, Giulia, Duetto and Alfetta, which car maker can be easier to become another BMW?  
The original 145 and 146, which was launched 3 years ago, had stylish look and roomy cabin. Nevertheless, the old boxer engine had passed its golden days. Moreover, the flaw suspensions provided below-average handling and ride, making the car hardly to be called sporty. Eventually, Alfa put the a new 16 valves straight 4 engine to it, further with a heavily tuned suspension and steering mechanism. As a result, the road behaviour is completely transformed. 

Alfa 146

Engine comes from Fiat's SUPER FIRE series, which also appeared in Brava / Bravo, Coupe and Alfa's own GTV / Spider. Of course, Alfa should have a better engine than those bread and butter Fiats. Therefore its engineers applied its unique twin-spark design which was originated from Alfa 75. Other part of the engines are already outstanding, with variable valve timing, 16 valves and aluminium alloy cylinder head. No wonder I regard SUPER FIRE as the most competent and versatile mass-produced engine currently. Capacity varies from 1.4, 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0, so many ! All of them are rev-happy and have remarkable power output - in 1.6 litres form, 120hp is available. Thanks to the variable valve timing, low-end torque problem which confused the previous boxer engine has gone. No matter in what rpm, the unit is willing to push, though it's still in favour of higher rpm. The 2.0 litres engine came directly from Alfa GTV, which incorporated 2 additional counter-rotating balance shafts to reduce vibration that usually appears in straight-4 engines. As a result, it became probably the sweetest and smoothest 4-cylinder in the world.  

The 2.0 litres car adopt the name "Cloverleaf" which traditionally reserved for the hottest version. Cloverleaf gets a ultra-quick steering mechanism from GTV - left to right is only 2.2 turns ! This increase steering feel a lot. In addition to the magnificent engine, it comes very close to the class leader, Peugeot 306GTi-6 in terms of driving fun. 

The above report was last updated in 1998. All Rights Reserved.


145 1.6TS
145 2.0 Cloverleaf
Front-engined, Fwd
Front-engined, Fwd
L / W / H / WB : 4093 / 1712 / 1427 / 2540 mm
Inline-4, dohc, 4v/cyl, 
twin-spark, VVT.
Inline-4, dohc, 4v/cyl, VVT,
twin-spark, balancer shafts.
120 hp
150 hp
107 lbft
138 lbft
F: Strut; R: Trailing arm
185 / 60 R14
195 / 55 R15
1165 kg
1200 kg
Top speed
129 mph*
0-60 mph
8.0 sec*
0-100 mph
23.2 sec*
* Tested by Autocar

Tipo's derivatives

Fiat's platform sharing strategy reached its peak during the Tipo era. Fiat Tipo was launched in 1988 as Fiat's Golf-beater. Its simple front MacPherson struts / rear trailing arms platform was soon found sharing with a dozen models in the group. Here is the complete listing (loaded from my memory) - Fiat Tipo, Fiat Tempra, Lancia Dedra, Lancia Delta, Alfa 155, Alfa 145/146, Fiat Brava/Bravo/Marea, Fiat Coupe, Fiat Punto, Alfa GTV/Spider, Alfa 156 and Lancia Lybra. 

The earliest derivatives did not changed much the hard points position, hence essential dimensions. These include today's 145/146, Delta and Brava/Bravo/Marea. They differ from each other by packaging, styling and suspension tuning. Fiat and Lancia share the same engines and transmission. Alfa got modified 4-cylinder engines (e.g. with twin-spark added) and sportier suspension setup. 

146 is a 145 with longer boot, although both of them are hatchback.  

Brava is the 5-door version of the 3-door Bravo. Marea is the 3-box saloon version. Marea Weekend is an estate. 

Alfa GTV / Spider, Alfa 156 and Lancia Lybra received much more development. GTV / Spider has multi-link replaces strut as rear suspension. The front still rides on strut. On the contrary, 156 has the front suspension changed to double-wishbones while using struts at the rear. Lybra remains strut in front but introduces a new GLA (Guided Lateral Arm) rear suspension. Again, Alfa has its own engines (including V6s) while Fiat and Lancia share the same engines. Alfa even got advanced transmission such as Selespeed. Although there are still a lot of common components sharing among them, it is no longer adequate to call these cars as sharing platform.

The above report was last updated on 27 Dec 99. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright© 1997-2009 by Mark Wan @ AutoZine