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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For It's got unique styling and throaty engines - ideal if you want 'something different'

Against Build quality is poor, the interior is ugly, and reliability is questionable

Verdict The 145 is a car for the enthusiast who is prepared to live with a few niggles

Go for… 1.8 Twin Spark

Avoid… Early 145s

Alfa Romeo 145 Hatchback
  • 1. The galvanised bodywork keeps rust to a minimum
  • 2. Interior build quality is poor, so you’ll have to expect irritating rattles
  • 3. Watch for smoky engines and listen out for noises from the suspension
  • 4. The boot is small compared with most rivals'
  • 5. The 145's turning circle is particularly poor
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Alfa Romeo 145 Hatchback full review with expert trade views

This is a classic 'Marmite' car - you either love it or loathe it. However, the 145 is certainly a more appealing design than its 146 sister, with its mini-saloon styling.

Inside, it's not terribly pleasant. The cutaway dashboard is blunt, the stalk controls fiddly, the rear seat cramped and the driving position set quite high.

The 145's not all that practical for a car that could be regarded as a small family hatchback, either: its boot is small, so you might be tempted to opt for the more ungainly 146 that offers more storage space and more room for rear-seat passengers. And, the flexible luggage cover in the back of the 145 is hardly user-friendly.

All 145s have a poor turning circle and a lumpy ride. But, on the plus side, they have energetic and raspy Twin Spark 16-valve engines, and a positive gearchange.

Trade view

James Ruppert

145 Cloverleaf or 1.8TS is a cheap hot hatch.

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Go for post-1999 models: these more recent versions have improved engines and chassis which made the 145 a much better car.

The smart choice is the 1.8 TS. It provides plenty of excitement, and you can be confident of a sale when you come to pass it on. This model also benefits from quicker steering than the basic models, and that makes for a more rewarding drive.

If outright performance is your thing, there's always the 2.0-litre Cloverleaf hot hatch, which was the flagship of the range, but there's no real point in spending the extra on it. Some used Alfa specialists have low-milers with healthy histories, but you will pay a premium for one, and there is no guarantee you’ll get a trouble-free car.

At the bottom of the range, the 1.6-litre is no more than acceptable. But, if you are set on this engine, the later Junior is a reasonable buy.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Image wannabe, let down by its reliability. JTDm and 3.2 GTA hold values best.

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The 145 is certainly cheap enough to buy: if you’re canny, you can pick up a decent 1998 1.8 TS for around the £1000 mark.

However, cheap as they are to buy, they're not all that cheap to insure: the 1.6-litre is in group 11, the 1.8-litre falls into group 13 and the 2.0-litre version is one higher, in group 14.

A 1.8-litre will return about 32mpg if you are light-footed on the throttle pedal, but the throaty engine will probably prove too tempting, so a more realistic average consumption figure is 27mpg.

Service intervals are every 12,000 miles, which is reasonable, and cambelt changes are required every 60,000 miles. Don’t expect repair bills to be low, though, especially if you have the work carried out at a franchised dealer.

The most vulnerable part of the car are the suspension bushes, and you can expect to have to replace them at some stage as an owner.

Trade view

James Ruppert

145 Cloverleaf or 1.8TS is a cheap hot hatch.

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The good news is that the galvanised bodywork keeps rust to a minimum. But, beware of examples that have a history of intermittent faults - the electrics can be suspect. Avoid cars with electrical gremlins that the seller tells you they just 'put up with'. The interior build quality is poor, too, so you can expect irritating rattles.

Check the car has a good service history, and make sure you’re aware of the cambelt change intervals. If you gamble on a car that has little or no service history, you may well end up making frequent trips to the local garage.

Watch for smoky engines and listen carefully to the suspension. If you hear the odd groan or creaking as you drive, you can be sure a suspension repair – and a hefty bill – is just around the corner.

To cut a long story short, if you're after bulletproof mechanicals, look elsewhere. The 145 never scored particularly well in Warranty Direct reliability surveys, and Alfa was well down the list in a recent JD Power customer satisfaction survey.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Image wannabe, let down by its reliability. JTDm and 3.2 GTA hold values best.

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide
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