The History Of ALFA Romeo 146

The Alfa Romeo 145 and 146 is a small family car produced by the Italian automaker Alfa Romeo between 1994 and 2001, it was launched at the 1994 Turin Motor Show. The 145 and 146 both share common design plans and interior components from the B-pillar forwards; the 145 is a three-door hatchback, whereas the 146 is a five-door.

To replace its ageing 33 model, Alfa Romeo launched these two cars in 1994 (the 145) and 1995 (the 146) to compete in the extremely competitive mid-size hatchback market. A spacious and uniquely Italian interior was presented to the press at the launch, and by all accounts it was well received; its oddly shaped cut-away dashboard attracted much attention, but in fact the design was for safety and practicality rather than aesthetics.

Based on the Fiat Tipo chassis, the cars were widely praised for their handling, particularly the sharp, responsive steering. Early cars used boxer engines passed down from the old 33 in 1.3/ 1.4 (same engine, badge depends on market. Not sold in UK), 1.6 8 valve and 1.7 16 valve forms.

In 1996, the flagship Cloverleaf (145) and Ti (146) models were launched with the 2.0-litre Twin Spark engine already seen in the 155 sister car.1.6 and 1.8 Twin Spark engines soon followed to replace the less powerful boxers.

The 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre engine cars were equipped with 'quick-rack' steering (also seen on the 155, GTV and Spider) which improved steering responsiveness, but as a result the turning circle was compromised. This was also featured on the 1.6-litre Junior model in 1998. The sporty suspension set-up was harsher than many others in its category at the time, but this was in line with the Fiat Group's marketing of Alfa Romeo as a sporting brand and it is said to have resulted in class leading handling.

Styling themes introduced in the Alfa Romeo 164 were continued, and the lighting clusters of the 146 provided a preview of the forthcoming Alfa Romeo 166 and 156. The more conservatively styled 146 proved a bigger sales success than the edgy design of the 145 which it seems was too avant-garde for main stream sales success.

Both the 145 and 146 have a strong following, particularly in top specification Cloverleaf and Ti guises as they are seen by many as not only the last "Old School" hot hatch built by Alfa but arguably by any car company.

While the volume of 145s and 146s sold was moderately low, parts availability is good, in most cases they are still available direct from Alfa Romeo. Owners clubs can often advise on multiple sources of parts or workarounds.

Eventually in 2000 the cars were superseded by the all new 147 which was a far bigger commercial success with its acclaimed styling front end and improved quality, but many enthusiasts feel that it lost a little of the special feel and Alfa Romeo that the 145 and 146 had.

The 145 and 146 are prized by performance minded Alfisti as a source of performance upgrades for the earlier Sprint. As these cars were initially designed for use with the Alfasud boxer engines, and laterupdates with Twinspark units, it is technically feasible to take a Twinspark from these cars and directly transplant them into a Sprint, giving the car a tremendous performance upgrade in the process.

Initial Release- Series I (145: 1994, 146: 1995)

145/ 146 Boxer Engines: 1.4 8v: 90PS (89hp/ 66kW) '*' 1.6 8v: 103PS (102hp/ 76kW), 1140kg (2513lb) 1.7 16v: 129PS (127hp/ 95kW), 1190kg (2624lb) Diesel Engines: 1.9 Turbo Diesel: 90PS (89hp/ 66kW) '*'
  • Cloverleaf/ Ti Release (1996):
145 Cloverleaf Twin Spark Engine: 2.0 16v: 150PS (148hp/ 110kW), 1240kg (2734lb) 146 Ti Twin Spark Engine: 2.0 16v: 150PS (148hp/ 110kW), 1275kg (2811lb)

Series II- First Revision (1997)

145 Twin Spark Engines: 1.4TS: 103PS (102hp/ 76kW), 1135kg (2502lb) '**' 1.6TS: 120PS (118hp/ 88kW), 1165kg (2568lb) 1.8TS: 144PS (142hp/ 106kW), 1195kg (2635lb) 2.0TS: 155PS (153hp/ 114kW), 1240kg (2734lb) Diesel Engines: 1.9JTD: 105PS (104hp/ 77kW) 146 Twin Spark Engines: 1.4TS: 103PS (102hp/ 76kW) '**' 1.6TS: 120PS (118hp/ 88kW), 1190kg (2624lb) 1.8TS: 144PS (142hp/ 106kW), 1215kg (2679lb) 2.0TS: 155PS (153hp/ 114kW), 1275kg (2811lb) Diesel Engines: 1.9JTD: 105PS (104hp/ 77kW), 1270kg (2800lb)

'*' European markets only. '**' European and Irish markets only.

  • 1994 - 145 launched. Engines were 1.3 8v Boxer, 1.6 8v Boxer, 1.7 16v Boxer & 1.9 Turbo Diesel
  • 1995 - 146 launched, using same engines as 145.
  • 1996 - 145 Cloverleaf and 146 TI models introduced, using 2.0 16v Twin Spark engine.
  • 1997 - All Boxer engines replaced by more powerful, more efficient Twin Spark engines.
  • 1998 - New Twin Spark engines from the Alfa Romeo 156 were imported into the 145/ 146 to replace the existing designs, due to the requirement to meet stricter emissions and noise regulations and for minor cost savings. Engine power was slightly lowered as a result.
  • 1999 - 1.9 JTD Turbo Diesel replaced existing diesel engine.
  • 2000 - Various minor revisions, including color-coded bumpers, door handles and mirrors. Higher spec versions also gained side airbags.

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