Tuning the Alfa Romeo range of cars

"Going Alfa Leather! (Hell for leather?!?!? Sorry!) "

Alfa Romeo

Considered to be innovators with many new performance enhancing features that other marques have not yet introduced.

Among the innovative ideas are aluminium engine blocks and rear mounted gearboxes to create the perfect balance showing that the designers are real drivers rather than just after a good looking car.

The twinspark and salespeed transmission are also fantastic innovations.

All Alfas are thoroughbred cars steeped in their racing heritage. The last of the 'real' Alfas was the 75 - a rear wheel drive car with rear mounted gearbox and lighweight aluminium Block and Head.

All models have superb handling and are considered to be a drivers car, especially since 1996 when revisions were introduced including the 2.0 Twin Spark engine.

The smaller 'family' cars such as the 145 and 146 have respectable fuel consumption and with the exception of the 1.6 engined models all reach 60 from standstill in under 10 seconds.

Alfas are underestimated sporty cars, each model shows Alfa's racing heritage.

The notable hot hatch has to be the 2.0 Twin Spark producing 150 bhp with an 8.5 second sprint to 60. The next car size up is the 156 considered by many to be a serious rival to the BMW 3 series although the sprty nature of these cars can be irksome on long motorway journeys - more of a sprinter than a cruiser - again the 2.0 Twin Spark models upwards offer respectable performance.

The larger engined models positively sparkle 2.5 v6 24v and 3.2 v6 24v in performance terms but return poor fuel consumption 22-26mpg!

An interesting development is the salespeed transmission - a clutchless transmission system steeped in Formula 1 technology. The 164 model was replaced in 99 with the 166 model all are solid performers and a good compromise between a fast car and a family car.

The 3.0 engines are among the best to come out of the Alfa Romeo stable and produce a satisfying roar although they can be a little on the expensive side to maintain and are not particularly economical.

The Cloverleaf badge indicates a car prepared for no compromise performance with enhanced suspension.

As the years go by the models are more and more dependent on electronics for engine management and even now on brakes suspension and traction control so when when buying one ensure that it comes with a good quality service history.

For out and out performance you must consider the GTV - a coupe version and the Spider an open top cabriolet.

The models offer a 2+2, so read 2 adults and 2 small children, or 2 adults and some shopping. Some owners have reported faults on the hood opertation and fit on the Spider.

The GTV feels much more at home in corners as the Spider flexes a little - this is only a minor criticism of an excellent car. The styling is a love it or hate it affair with its dedicated fans and critics alike.

Watch out for oil leaks and Electrical faults and corrosion - although since Fiats acquisition of Alfa Romeo the rust resistance has been substantially improved. The bodywork on most models is susceptible to knocks and scrapes and annoying car park dents. Generally the prestige models are much better built so avoid going for a base model and tuning it up - start with a good performer with good specification and then apply your preferential tuning tweaks to this for the best return on your investment.

Tuning:- Alfas are refined cars and little needs to be done to improve them. Most owners add a sports exhaust and on the larger engined models (2.5l plus) an induction kit helps with the breathing.

The 3.0 Models also respond well to chips - a complete replacement ECU or a supplementary piggy-back ecu. There are few specialists out there, but, the ones that exist all offer a very good service and know what they are doing.

A number of suspension upgrades are available but I would strongly avoid the off the shelf 'fits most models' variety - make sure it is adjustable and specifically made for your model and engine type (the wide range of engines available have a profound effect on the weight distribution and the suspension settings need to take this into account.)

On the 3.0 models with switchable suspension settings I would recommend leaving well alone as the standard setup is fine and changing it gets very complicated - read a lot of money.

To discuss Alfa Romeo tuning in more detail with our members please join our very friendly forum.

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