To replace its ageing 33 model, Alfa Romeo launched these two cars in 1994 (the 145) and 1995 (the 146) to compete in the extremely competitive mid-size hatchback market. A spacious and uniquely Italian interior was presented to the press at the launch, and by all accounts it was well received; its oddly shaped cut-away dashboard attracted much attention, but in fact the design was for safety and practicality rather than aesthetics.
Based on the Fiat Tipo chassis, the cars were widely praised for their handling, particularly the sharp, responsive steering. Early cars used boxer engines passed down from the old 33 in 1.3/1.4 (same engine, badge depends on market. Not sold in UK), 1.6 8 valve and 1.7 16 valve forms.
In 1996, the flagship Cloverleaf (145) and Ti (146) models were launched with the 2.0-litre Twin Spark engine already seen in the 155 sister car.1.6 and 1.8 Twin Spark engines soon followed to replace the less powerful boxers.
The 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre engine cars were equipped with 'quick-rack' steering (also seen on the 155, GTV and Spider) which improved steering responsiveness, but as a result the turning circle was compromised. This was also featured on the 1.6-litre Junior model in 1998. The sporty suspension set-up was harsher than many others in its category at the time, but this was in line with the Fiat Group's marketing of Alfa Romeo as a sporting brand and it is said to have resulted in class leading handling.