Used Alfa Romeo 146 1995 - 2001 review

Category: Family car

The 145 is a car for the enthusiast who is prepared to live with its many faults.

Alfa Romeo 146 (95 - 01)
  • Alfa Romeo 146 (95 - 01)
  • Alfa Romeo 146 (95 - 01)
Used Alfa Romeo 146 1995 - 2001 review
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Steve Huntingford
Published01 January 2006

What's the used Alfa Romeo 146 hatchback like?

This is a classic 'Marmite' car - you either love it or loathe it. Although the Alfa Romeo 146 is a five-door hatchback, it has been designed to look like a mini-saloon, and as a result, its styling is certainly far less attractive than that of its three-door 145 sister.

Inside, it's not too pleasant, either. The cutaway dashboard is blunt, the stalk controls fiddly and the driving position set rather high.


The 145 is a car for the enthusiast who is prepared to live with its many faults.

  • Sweet-sounding engines
  • Ideal if you want 'something different'
  • Poor build quality
  • Ugly interior
  • Reliability is questionable

Where the 146 does score over the 145 is that it offers more storage space and more room for your rear passengers. As a result, it's far more effective as a small family car.

Sadly, like its smaller sister, the 146 has a poor turning circle and a lumpy ride. But, on the plus side, every model in the range has an energetic and raspy Twin Spark 16-valve engine, as well as a positive gearchange.

Ownership cost

What used Alfa Romeo 146 hatchback will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Alfa Romeo 146 hatchback?

The Alfa Romeo 146 is certainly affordable 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 up fornt, they're actually quite pricey to insure, particularly if you go for the 2.0-litre engine

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.

Our recommendations

Which used Alfa Romeo 146 hatchback should I buy?

Go for post-1999 models: these more recent versions have improved engines and chassis which made the 146 a much better car. They also benefitted from a facelift that brought a body-coloured radiator grille and bumpers, and air-con as standard.

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 Romeo 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.

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