The Alfa Romeo 145 was in production from 1994 to 2000. The successor to the Alfa 33, it was available as a three-door hatchback only. It is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive car. The five-door 146 shares design plans and architecture ahead of the B-pillar.
The Alfa Romeo 145 was launched in 1994 as a replacement for the 33. The 145 was based on the underpinnings of the Fiat Tipo, though it kept Alfa Romeo’s boxer and Twin Spark engines and featured a new body by Chris Bangle.
Reception was relatively strong among enthusiasts, though the wider public felt it too avant-garde for its tastes. At launch, all barring the Cloverleaf used the Alfa Romeo flat-four engine from the 33, mounted longitudinally. The Cloverleaf used a transverse 2.0 Twin Spark.
In 1997 the Boxer engines were replaced by a full range of transverse Twin Sparks from 1.6 litres to 2.0 litres. Cars also received a redesigned dashboard and new air conditioning system.
In 1999 Alfa Romeo facelifted the 145 again, with new body colour bumpers, new foglamps, and optional side airbags. Sport and Lusso packs also became available.
Just shy of 5,000 145s were sold in the UK, compared with over 7,000 of its sister car the 146. It was replaced by the more conventionally styled 147.
The Alfa Romeo 145 is derived from the Fiat Type Two floorpan – as used in the Fiat Tipo. Like the larger 155, it uses transverse Twin Spark engines of 1.6 to 2.0, though early cars used the 2.0TS and a range of flat-fours carried over from the older 33. A crucial difference is that the boxers are longitudinal.
All Alfa Romeo 145s use five-speed manual gearboxes. All drove the front wheels.
Comfortable seats and a compliant ride were both 145 strong suits, though don’t imagine this came at the expense of sharp handling. Alfa Romeo 145s -– whether transverse or boxer – are a lot of fun. The Cloverleaf has the power to match the chassis, but the rest are more than brisk enough if driven with vigour.
Make sure you stay on top of oil levels and basic maintenance and the mechanicals should prove reliable. More worrying is the driver’s airbag. Check it has been inspected as part of one of Alfa’s recalls in the 1990s -– there were documented cases of airbags deploying spontaneously, though most have been rectified.
Handbrakes can be prone to freezing on, so in winter ensure you leave the handbrake off and the car in gear. Ensure you also have the master key in case of any alarm or immobiliser woes – many will have been lost but it’s vital to avoid big bills.
Rust isn’t unknown where the floorpans meet the sills, but overall the 145 is pretty rot resistant. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check the usual rot spots though -– accident damage can happen, and rust can form when repaired.
The Alfa Romeo 145 is now recognised as a bona fide sports hatch. Most desirable of them all is the rare Cloverleaf model, while the boxer engine versions of lesser models are more prized by enthusiasts than the Twin Sparks. This is in part because of how few survive; many have become donors for Alfasud Sprints.
Sporting examples of the Fiat Tipo and Bravo may be considered fair rivals for the Alfa 145. Alternatives might also include the BMW 3 Series Compact, Audi A3 and sporting derivatives of the Rover 200.