UK CAR Car Review

 Alfa Romeo 145 TS 16 Valve

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Alfa Romeo introduced the 145 as a 3 door hatch in 1994 and at the time it used the old generation boxer engines. These engines were OK but what an improvement this model is with its multi valve twin spark engine!

The Alfa Romeo 145 TS 16 Valve tested was the 1998 model with air conditioning

The Alfa 145 is a little gem of a vehicle; it has a certain appeal and is a very pleasing car to look at. Not many other maker's models are quite so unique.

This model has good posture and presence - almost a young teenager in a market of old men such as the VW Golf GTi. The 145 has character and a good, unique style which all makers try to achieve. It must be difficult - how many car shapes can be made without running out of cars to manufacture them in? Now all computers and wind tunnels are trying to suggest the same styles and shapes. It's colour-coded with mirrors, door handles and bumper aprons coded to the body colour. Front fog lamps are fitted as standard in the lower bumper area with a rather aggressive-looking grille above. 

It's shaped almost half way towards being a 3-door version of an estate car - very much a modern sport wagon. The large alloy rims suggest that this car is a baby sports with a very good looking wheel and contributes greatly to the general appearance.

The interior is quite basic looking with sports front seats and a strange but spacious passenger foot compartment. The designers have shaped the dash to enclose the passenger, allowing more space in this little car. It does feel strange until you get used to it.


The rear seating area is almost bench shaped and really not unlike many others but is, however, capable of comfortably carrying two big adults or three average-sized people.

The 145 has lots of standard features such as head rests fitted both front and rear; the rear rests can be removed to fold the seat backs flat for that extra carry space. Electric front windows, which are very conveniently operated from the driver's door, have switches that look very similar to the Audi. 

The steering wheel is excellent - a sports 3-spoked leather coated wheel  which has a superb feel to it. Of course, it also has the Alfa Romeo emblem in the center for just in case you forget what you are driving. 



The dash and consul area are very sparse which is due to most of the switch gear, such as heated rear window, fog lamps, lights, etc being operated from the indicator and wiper stalks. This makes the other switches very easy to identify.

Electrically operated mirrors are also fitted (ideal if more than one person has use of the car), thus enabling easy and convenient adjustment of the exterior mirrors. 

The car tested was fitted with air conditioning which is operated by a switch next to the interior fan control and worked very well with the interior ventilation being more than adequate

The driving position is a little strange as you feel quite elevated in the car, the driver's seat is height adjustable and there are height adjustable seat belts fitted. The general position is good - the seating is sporty but not restrictive on your shoulders and back.

The boot storage area has a novel load cover which is easily folded out of the way as it's constructed of PVC and Velcro, making it very practical as it simply cannot rattle.

 

The engine powering this car is a twin cam 16 valve with two spark plugs per cylinder. It has four cylinders, it's transverse mounted and produces a respectable 144 bhp and takes the car to 60 mph from standing in only 9.2 seconds. 

Not bad for an estate family car! It can achieve a top speed of 127 mph and is very efficient on fuel giving up to 43 mpg. Typically Alfa style, it is very eager to rev high and does so with ease. The more it is revved, the more power it produces (until the rev counter hits red, that is).

The engine is fully controlled electronically for the best power and fuel ratios, it has a multi point fuel injection system with a catalytic converter fitted as standard. The ignition system is fully electronic and very reliable.

Driving this baby Alfa is good fun and the engine provides sufficient power for most occasions. It will rev very freely right through its rev range and does so without excess noise or giving the impression that it simply doesn't want to. 

The gear box is very smooth and easy to select. Reverse is a doddle, unlike some new cars which have to have levers lifted for reverse selection. The car tested had covered in excess of 80,000 miles and performed and drove with ample power with no signs of mechanical wear being evident. The gear shift was, I must say, as good as new. The clutch was light and very easy to operate. However, if you have size 11 feet or big boots then this little car makes accidental braking common as the foot pedals are very close together.

The suspension on the car is independent with front McPhearson struts and independent rear coil springs. This is a good set up, allowing all wheels the ability to support the car best where and when required.

Braking is servo-assisted with front ventilated discs and solid brake discs on the rear. Anti lock braking is also fitted to assist when you are just that little bit out of control!

Power assisted steering is standard on the Alfa 145. Simply holding the steering wheel on this car encourages you to drive it with intent. The wheel is 3-spoked, leather covered and shaped where you grip, making the feel sure. The steering is very positive on the road and handles well at all speeds and angles.

The Alfa Romeo range has many types of safety systems fitted including drivers air bag and side impact protection as standard in the doors. 

The Alfa also has (like many other makes) a transponder style key which is uniquely coded to the car. If the key is not used to start the car and force or other means are tried, the engine management system will not run the engine. Alfa supply a master red key with the cars when new which allows further replacements when needed. However, lose this master key and the car will ask for it one day and if you don't have it, prepare yourself for one of the best money-making ideas introduced into the motor trade as you will have to take your car to an appointed Alfa agent for them to rob you blind. This is because you cannot replace the red key. Back in Italy they could if they wanted to but why would they when they can charge you more than your mortgage for a new lock set and electronic control unit (plus labour, of course)? A good security system, then, although you cannot drive these cars away without a coded key as they just will not run.

Alfa have hidden the boot key hole behind a badge which mean thieves need to know where it is sited, it's weatherproof and stylish.  Nice touch.

I enjoy driving most Alfa Romeos and this 145 is no exception - the 1.8 engine is very lively, the gear change is easy, vision excellent and driveability superb. The car is practical in that it is not as temperamental as some historic Italian cars. Service costs and fuel consumption are about average for a car of this size, whereas performance and handling are better. That is, of course, without comparing to cars such as the modern turbo charged models. Alfa make this very same car in a 2.0 litre version which is over one second quicker to 60mph.

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