After the disastrous Alfa 33, Alfa Romeo took an adventurous route with its successor – the dramatic styled 145 – which became an instant hit with the Alfisti. And topping the 145 range was Alfa’s hot hatch contender – the Alfa Romeo 145 Quadrifoglio.
The 145 was characterized by a large wraparound glass effect at the rear, disguising the C-pillars, giving it a very distinctive appearance. There was also a quirky step-down to the tapering waistline by the side mirrors, large side skirts with cloverleaf badges, defined scallops along the bodywork, a racy spoiler on the tailgate, and a V-shaped rear lower edge to the tailgate glass.
While Alfa’s “five leaf clover” alloys added to its appeal. The 145 was compact too – smaller than an Audi A3 and a Honda Civic EK – but spacious enough for four adults, with ample head and leg room, and their luggage too.
Powering the Quadrifoglio was a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre DOHC 16V motor – with Alfa’s TwinSpark technology. It was a pretty high-tech for its time, gaining hydraulic tappets, electro-hydraulic variable valve timing, and twin counter-rotating balancer shafts. The original 145 Quadrifoglio’s 2.0 produced 110kw and 187nm, but the ‘facelifted’ version came in 1999 with slightly more power – 114kw, with torque remaining the same at 187nm, although it did arrive 500rpm lower at 3,500rpm.
It also had a slightly higher top gear ratio – 0,946 in place of 0,971:1, while its 5-speed manual gearbox was retained. The 1274kg 145 Quadrifoglio dashed from 0-100kph in an impressive 9.16 seconds, and completed the 1km sprint in 30.21 seconds at 176.8 seconds, before topping out at a true 207kph. The motor pulled strong from low down, and offered burbles – and plenty of grins - as it was pushed towards its 6,900rpm redline.
It would be best to describe the 145’s handling as sharp and nimble. With just 2.2 turns to lock, its wieldiness was definitely a strong point. Its ride though, was firm, but not harsh. However, the moment you did decided to turn up the wick through some twisties, understeer and tyre-squeal was the order of the day – but it was all good, controllable fun.
In 2000, shortly before it made way for the 147, the 145 Quadrifoglio was priced at a competitive R140 400 – a fair price for a car that was compact, practical and distinctive. Like all Alfa Romeos, there was always going to be a long list of ‘flaws’, but the 145 had a special character – that just seemed to outweigh those flaws – typically Alfa Romeo isn’t it?