The well-liked Alfasud has been sensibly modified along its nine-year span, to enable it to retain its popularity among those seeking a decidedly well-mannered, decidedly sporting small-car. Originally it lacked power to match its exceptional road-clinging and fast-cornering characteristics. That was put right and now there is the 95 (DIN) bhp Ti twin-carburetter engine to add to the delights. It was introduced for the Alfasud Sprint Veloce and is to go into the four-door saloon ‘Suds. Then the 1.3 Alfasud saloon has the twin-choke Weber carburation used for the 1.5 saloon, giving it an additional eight bhp. This and the 1.5 saloon have been face-lifted to keep them up-to-date, although in detail matters the Alfasud is unchanged or has retrograde alterations that make it seem somewhat out-dated.
Having said that, all Alfasud remain the enjoyable little cars they always have been. The 1.5 saloon I have been driving looks very nice in its restyled form, with wrap-round bumper and integral spoiler, larger headlamps, and rubbing-strips along the body sides. The seats have been rendered more comfortable and the interior has also been somewhat revised, with perhaps less “Italian” idiom, although not pretending to have a Iuxury decor. Under the bonnet there is that “different” flat-four, alloy-head, oh-camshaft 84 x 67 mm 11,490 cc engine that pokes out 84 or 85 bhp at a modest 5,800 rpm, depending on whose figures you trust, with 89 lb/ft. torque at 3,500 rpm. This spells impressive performance from this 21.7cwt kerb-weight four-door package, and unexpected flexibility.
The 1.5 Alfasud saloon can be wound up to several mph over the ton, and it will go from 0-60 mph in 11 seconds, and accelerate from a 40 mph speed-limit area to a legal-cruising 60 mph in fractionally over 11 seconds. Couple this with impeccable road manners very good all-disc servo brakes (but they squealed and occasionally “graunched”), and that pleasant-to-use five-speed gearbox and you have the ingredients of a very acceptable little motor-car. Add to that the indisputable fact that the Alfasud is one of the nicest little cars there is, and the appeal is obvious. Moreover, it is not a thirsty car. In the 11/2-litre twin-choke carburetter form, as tested, I averaged 33.2 mpg of four-star but with more restrained driving, if that is acceptable once you are behind the wheel of an Alfasud, something approaching 40 mpg could be seen. As the tank holds 11 gallons, the range is excellent.
The front-hinged bonnet has a release-lever on the wrong side in the rhd model. The lid self-supporting and releasing, but has an additional safety-prop. Rudi Hruska’s machine is good to behold and battery, fuses, distributor, plugs and dip-stick are all most commendably accessible. No oil was needed after 600 fast miles.
It is over such details that some of those among our readers who are able to resist the Alfasuds charms in other areas might he induced to cast eye at the even more powerful VW Golf GTi. For instance, the petrol gauge of the ‘Sud can drive one to distraction by its swinging needle. even if it is not quite so unreadable as that of a Rover 3500! Instrumentation is mean, with no oil-gauge or water-thermometer, for instance. The latter has as substitution a red light warning the driver not to open up fully until it extinguishes itself. But as it also glows for a while when the engine is thoroughly warm, this isn’t very convincing! Then the “choke-on” warning light is less obvious than on the older models and as the choke control is hidden beneath the steering column and acts also as a hand-throttle, this is a retrograde step. The luggage boot, small and box-like, has a lid, with a rather unnecessa, prop, which can only be opened by pulling a lever on a front door-cill. As this lever is on the n/s on a rhd. car this means opening two doors before the boot lid can be released and if the lid, which is awkward to lift, slips from one’s grasp, repeating the process. The Alfa Romeo badge on the boot lid is rubber protected, because it fouls the rear window when the lid is up — and a clumsy person could break the glass. The pedals are still biased to the left, with not much room to rest one’s left foot. It is matters like these that have out-dated the ‘Sud, but its one-time poor reputation for rust has hopefully been overcome; the test-car was Lacroc protected. Stowages consist of under-facia shelving, a rather useless console open well, and an unlockable but lidded cubby hole with a crude catch. The interior door handles are sensibly placed to obviate inadvertent use and the long door-pulls for some reason have simulated wood-panels. The front compartment has loose rubber mats with the Alfa insignia and the test-car’s green finish was much admired. The front passenger’s door tended to bounce open, the doors still lack effective “keeps”, nor was I enamoured with the Panasonic radio; it has door speakers and a roof aerial that rattled.
When all has been said, however, what an attractive car this Alfasud is! To add to the aforesaid distinguished qualities there are good ride, the low all-round noise level and the interior space is generous, with a rear-seat arm-rest. All told the Alfasud is one of the few small cars which really is comparable with a much larger car for a fast, long-distance journey. And what value at £4,300. W.B.