One of your readers last month recommended dissatisfied Triumph Stag owners to change to a Lancia Beta Coupe. Those who read earlier road test reports of the 1,600 c.c. version and buy one are, I suggest, likely to be disappointed.
I understand that at about the end of 1975 the engine was modified to comply with the exhaust emission regulations and is now some 10% down on power output. It is claimed that the effect of this on performance is small but as an owner I can only say that the acceleration is disappointing. All in all I find it a greatly over-rated car. The mechanical noise is far too high for the price level, both at tick-over speeds, when the gearbox rattles very badly, and at higher speeds when it seems to suffer from a lack of sound insulation. The handling and comfort are, I agree, of a very high order but the noise and the many small irritations such as the curious headlamp switching arrangements (which they tell me is something to do with Italian autostrada having a lot of tunnels—the things they say!),, the flasher unit only bringing on dipped beams so that when driving on dipped beams one has no flasher, the windscreen reflections from the heater control lighting, the windows which don’t go completely down into the doors all combine to make me wish I hadn’t.
London, NW1 P. WHITE
[Our staff Coupe has the 108 b.h.p. engine, which delivers 27-32 m.p.g. and pleasing performance, and I wondered how 1600 owners felt about losing 8 b h p now we know! More seriously I feel it is not the performance but the quality control that lets Lancia down today.—J.W. J