Published on September 12th, 2013 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Alfa 145, 1995 model used car review
In the used car yard today it can be bought for as little as RM5,000, and you could find yourself a sporty, quite reliable and mostly corrosion-free sports car. Alfa Romeo’s three-door 145 introduced Italian flair and elegant, flowing lines to a compact hatch car market, when there was little else on offer. As the direct successor to the company’s 33 range, the 145 was further evidence of Alfa’s rebirth as a maker of sensible yet, characterful cars. The 145 first appeared in 1995 in Milan Auto off Jalan 222, offering buyers two choices of four-cylinder engines. These were initially the traditional ‘boxer’ style, carried over from the 33. Later, powerful ‘Twin Spark’ units arrived. For the used buyer, any of these cars makes an interesting and sensible buy, particularly when you consider the vastly improved quality and reliability over the 33.
Though mechanically identical to the 146, the styling of this new middle class sports car was, like the supposed tastes of its targeted buyers, a little more ‘avant garde’ and unconventional. It came at a time when its only competitors were the highly successful Honda Civic hatchback, the Proton Putra or Satria and of course the Ford Lynx 1.8 TX3. However it was the only continental (European) offering with an acceptable price (just under RM90K new). Engines were identical to the 146, with only 1.6 and 16-valve 1.7-litre ‘boxer’ engines available initially.
In late 1996 then local Alfa distributor Milan Auto released what many Alfa enthusiasts consider to be the definitive version, the 146ti, which gained the 2.0-litre, 16-valve Twin Spark engine from the bigger 155 executive saloon. For the more exciting 145 cars that were equipped with this powerful engine they were simply tagged the ‘Cloverleaf’ and had the green cloverleaf insignia on the rear hatch. In 1997, the old 1.6 and 1.7-litre ‘boxer’ engines, whose origins could be traced to the Alfasud of the early ‘70s, were at last, laid to rest. Their 1.6 and 1.8-litre replacements featured Alfa’s trademark system of two sparkplugs for each of the four cylinders. Both these 16-valve units are closely related to the bigger 2.0-litre engines, which remained unchanged in the ‘ti’ flagship.
Roominess is not a feature hatchback car buyers traditionally look for, however with the 145 is by no means disgraced by its competitors. To show how determined the 145’s designers were to ensure adequate space in this van like profile, they gave front passengers good legroom and access to the rear was acceptable for two adults.
Other practicalities include luggage space, reasonable economy and, thank goodness, a driving position that doesn’t require you to have long legs and short arms like previous Alfa models. The 145 came with plenty of equipment for its age. Power steering, electric front windows, an engine immobiliser mated to the ignition key (if you lose it you need to get from Italy as no duplicates can be made here), central locking and a driver’s airbag are standard.
Early 1995 to 1998 1.6 and 1.7-litre cars encouraged a driving style in which enthusiastic revving of the engine in the higher revolution range was often needed to keep the momentum in town in traffic. For this reason, many used units may have suffered at the hands of drivers trying to be a Schumacher. Many 2nd and 3rd owners of these cars often ignore service intervals due to insufficient funds and also unreliable mechanics. Though largely reliable units, the 1.6 and 1.7-litre motors, will almost certainly have a short life if oil changes and replacement parts have been neglected which is quite common with next generation owners.
When you find a used unit that you are interested in make sure you check under the engine filler cap and dipstick – the colour and texture of the oil should never be black or show signs of sludge build-up and the exhaust should, naturally, be smoke-free at idle. Walk away if black smoke is showing and if white smoke appears then make a hasty retreat. Replacement parts are not that expensive as long as you go to a reliable mechanic as many of my Alfa owner friends have been doing so. Try and always avoid second hand engine and electrical parts. Junkyard body parts and trim are acceptable. Major servicing is needed every 80,000 kilometers and check service history to see if the owner has observed this. Also….you need some luck.