Theo bonds with his 145 on a spectacular Cumbrian drive
2000 ALFA ROMEO 145 CLOVERLEAF
Definitely much better at going vroom.’ That was the verdict of a friend of mine comparing my Alfa with his modern Vauxhall as we hightailed it down a narrow Cumbrian lane. His analysis ended there ( he’s not really a petrolhead) but I appreciated the sentiment.
The occasion was a soggy bank holiday weekend in the Lake District. I had assembled a few like-minded hill walkers for an assault on some of England’s pointiest parts, and decided that the Alfa had earned the adventure. It was to be my first long run with it on twisty roads – the perfect chance to put the car through its paces. The first stint was a trouble-free jaunt from northern Cambridgeshire to our interim stop-off at a cosy yurt in the Peak District. The next morning, with our party now fully assembled in Buxton, we stuffed our two little cars with bags and boots and whizzed up the M6. Few people seem willing to trust an old Alfa with the ability to perform for any more than a few minutes at a time, but this 145 Cloverleaf ( bought for a song last winter) was turning out to be a cracker. With 155bhp on tap, motorway cruising was effortless, if not particularly relaxing. The rev needle edges beyond 3500rpm at 70mph, begging you to push it on cam and hang the speed limit. It’s very impressive, but the motorway just doesn’t feel like its natural environment. Branching off through Kendal and squirrelling into the depths of the Lakes, it all came together. That 2.0-litre Twin Spark engine really is something. It sang and whirred and delivered its ecstatic fizzes right through the cockpit (which soon became scattered with trail mix and peanuts). It feels trim too. I love the rapid steering lock, the way the nose tucks so smartly into an apex, and the delicacy with which you can tickle its limits of grip – all without interferences like traction control. Being a relatively modern hatchback, it’s even vaguely practical, comfy and roomy up front.
A month later, another hiking trip to the Brecon Beacons saw me testing the rear seats too, as I attempted to get a night’s kip in a Welsh layby. As a motorhome it was, well, pretty poor. But as a pocket rocket for a quick blast across lumpy landscapes it was, once again, spectacular.
There aren’t many cars that can deliver this much fun for less than a grand. I ruddy adore it. And I miss it to death because, despite the magic of our fleeting love affair, I’ve just sold it.
I’m an idiot.
The last moments of Alfa entertainment. Will Theo regret selling it? Alfa takes a breather after all that ecstatic fizzing, whirring and squirrelling.
Stuffed front and back with soggy people… and beer.