It was nice to find myself in an Alfasud again, Barry Needham having arranged for me to try a bright yellow 1.5 Super four-door saloon. The Alfasud has been a charming little car from its inception but it has always needed a bigger engine. The latest 1 1/2-litre flat-four suits it admirably, providing the desired power-increase and also making the little car more flexible and enjoyable to drive. Because of its steady ride, fast cornering ability devoid of roll, its accurate steering, the comfort of its seats, and the low noise-level when cruising at 70 or 80 m.p.h., the Alfasud is a paragon among the smaller cars. Normally, too, there would be the pleasure of stirring about with the excellent five-speed gearbox, so as to exploit the performance of an o.h.c. engine that runs happily to 6,000 r.p.m. and beyond, when you would probably get some 29 m.p.g. My spell with the 1.5 Alfasud Super coincided with the fuel-famine, but by rather abnormal use of the fifth-speed and some coasting I returned a commendable 34.2 m.p.g. As the petrol tank holds 11 gallons, this is a useful factor in the present dismal situation.
The Alfasud has some annoying items, such as access to the coffin-like luggage boot involving the driver in getting out of the car, walking round to the nearside, and opening the other front door before the boot-lid’s release lever can be operated, the bonnet-release also being on the “wrong” side in r.h.d. models. Prolonged driving of one might make one bow-legged, too, with both one’s feet biased to the left, because all three pedals are very off-set, in spite of a rather wide turning circle. There is also the peculiarity of the l.h. of the two control-stalks operating the heater/ventilator fan. A warning light restrains the over-eager owner from opening-up the willing little engine until it has warmed-up. The electrical fuses are accessible, as I discovered when I was faced temporarily with side and rear lights at opposite corners of the car only. Overall, however, the Alfasud is one of the more desirable of the smaller cars, and one which seems to me to be very good value, at £3,801. — W.B.