drove a pristine one six years ago the verdict was very positive, a view backed up by Autocar when they purchased a far less pristine one. Well, everything was going OK until the fuel started spilling out.
Point being that the flagship 145 will still be good fun, and not simply through the fondness of nostalgia. That famed 2.0-litre engine should feel even better in an age of downsized turbos, as will a kerbweight comfortably under 1,200kg. Perhaps there will be better handling hot hatches - we'll get to those in a sec - though there remains plenty to like about the 145. Probably more than there is to like about a Mito Cloverleaf.
Given the 145 was never the most popular car, that the Cloverleaf was the most expensive version and that we are now more than 20 years from its introduction, you will largely have to take what's available when buying one. Fortunately the one that's residing in the PH classifieds looks like an absolute beaut: a black Cloverleaf with tan leather, it has covered just 65,000 miles since 2000 and comes with every MoT certificate.
Ah yes, you're thinking, but what about all the maintenance that an Alfa from that era will require. Taken care of too, with a full service history, regular rust prevention treatment and a cambelt service in February. The detail and the quality of the ad, a '145' private numberplate plus a couple of subtle modifications are encouraging signs as well.
Moreover, a budget of around about £3K opens up some very interesting hot hatch options. Of course there's the predictable stuff, various Clios, Cupras and Civics available for the money, but one or two less obvious options too. An MG ZS 180 is in budget, and is far better than you probably think. And while there aren't any currently on PH in budget, a BMW 325ti Compact offers a similar combination to the Alfa of sweet engine, decent handling and, er, distinctive looks.
The 145 - and whoever buys it, for that matter - deserves credit though, for thinking a little differently. There's probably even less of them than the BMW and MG, with the added Alfa kudos too. And who doesn't fancy the idea of an old Alfa at some point in their car buying lives?
ALFA ROMEO 145 CLOVERLEAF
Why you should: You can say you have cheap classic Alfa Romeo
Why you shouldn't: Others will say you have weird 17 year-old hatch
See the original advert here