GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

Alfa Romeo 145 Cloverleaf













Home | Here are the Reviews | GT2 Racing Guide | GT3 Racing Guide | GT4 Racing Guide | GT5 Racing Guide | GT6 Racing Guide | Links to other GT sites




















SPEX

Year: 1998
Type: 3-Door Hatchback
Class: Compact

Country: Italy
Host: GT2
 

Price: 29,320


Length: 161.1" // Width: 67." // Height: 56.33"
Wheelbase: 100"
Overhang: @ 5' 1"
Track: 57.7" [F] // 56.22" [R]
Ground Clearance: 6.1"
Weight: 2667 lbs.
Layout: Front Engine / Front Drive
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Tires: 195/55 VR-15
F. Suspension: MacPherson strut, coils, anti-roll bar
R. Suspension: trailing arm, coil, anti-roll bar
Brakes: Vented Discs [F] Solid Discs [R]

Engine: 1970 cc DOHC inline 4
Aspiration: natural
Tstd.Hp: 151 @ 6,300 rpms
Torque: 138 @ 3,500 rpms
Lbs per hp: 17.66
Hp per Liter: 76.64
Credit per hp: 194.17
Fuel system: ?
Valves per cyl: 4
Compression: 10.0:1
Bore x Stroke: 3.27" x 3.58"
Redline: 7,750 // Rev Limit: 8,000

0-60 mph: 8.1 seconds
0-100mph: 25.5 seconds

 
400 M: 16.384 @ 84 mph
1 KM: 30.279 @ 107 mph

 
Test Track: 2:02.254

Top Speed at Redline
1st: @36 mph
2nd: 65 mph
3rd: 96 mph
4th: 125 mph @ 7,700 rpm
5th: 138.11 @ 6,900 rpm
 

--------------------EXTERIOR----------------------

“Like, Oh my gawd, he's reviewing yet another slow car. When's he gonna do the Escudo? Get a grip, Mister!”

Actually, nobody ever asked me that question, but basically the answer is 'never' in case anyone ever does. Those persistent enough can find plenty of info on the Escudo, many of the Skylines, the Dodge Viper, etc. You won't find much about the Alfa Romeo 145 ‘Cloverleaf’, however, so that's why I'm writing about it. I am a champion of the underdog.

First off, this car isn't really all that slow. Sure, it begins its GT2 life from the dealership with average numbers, but this is one of the European hatchbacks that can accept more (just a bit more) power than usual. Plus, it's balanced and very fun to drive.

The Alfa Romeo 145 has several versions, the one in the game is known (in real-life) as the ‘Green Cloverleaf'. This is a reference to some famous Alfa racing cars of the past, which carried a clover symbol. The 145 has an odd ‘squished’ appearance to it. Looks kinda funny, doesn't it? Personally, I don't get it: Italy has some of the finest coachbuilders in the world, but they sure have been churning out some odd ducks for Alfa and Fiat, haven't they? I can't decide if the Cloverleaf is ugly or hip. It seems to be a bit of both.

The 145 replaced the Alfa 33 series in the early '90s, and eventually got several upgrades including suspension tweaks, ABS brakes, and a variety of safety features. This 2,667 pound auto actually weighs 2,738 in real life, which means that the game car already has some weight removed when we buy it at the dealership. Perhaps this is a matter of curb weight versus dry weight? Not sure. Still, 2,600+ is a bit heavy for a hatch when it's race time. Getting some weight taken off (maybe two stages or three if you can afford them) is a fabulous idea.

Another Alfa upgrade back in the early '90s was this car's steering, which is very direct. The dealership info sheet and several websites brag about it, and when you race this car, beware; for it will lead to plenty of grabbing if the car is steered too aggressively.

At almost 30,000 credits, the 'Cloverleaf' is rather pricey, and probably not a popular choice amongst most GT2 racers. After all, any Civic costs way less than this, + Civics are lighter. So let's find out why the 145 is perhaps worth buying.
 
 

--------------------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN----------------------


The real-life Alfa 145 (like most European cars) could be purchased with a slew of engine choices. At one time, buying a 145 meant being limited to two  underpowered 'Boxer' series engines, but by the time GT2 was released, Alfa provided four different motors with the "Twin Spark" feature, as well as one diesel. The game car has the largest displacement engine available. It's a 2.0 which features ‘Variable Inlet Manifold’ tuning. This helps keep the torque curve flat from 3,000 rpms to almost 7,000, and also guarantees power no matter when you step on the gas. Unlike some Japanese non-aspirated engines, which wind strongly only at higher revs, the 145's motor has a broader range of revs to explore.  

Notice, however, that when the Cloverleaf engine gets above 7,000 rpms, it seriously begins to lose power, especially in 4th gear. When racing this car with a manual transmission, make sure you're shifting gears at 7,000...don't wait for the redline.

Speaking of gears: the close-ratio (sports) gearbox will max out and redline in 5th at about 134 mph, and this is all you'll really need at tracks like Autumn Ring, Seattle (either one), Trail Mountain, Deep Forest, Rome (any of the 3 tracks), and a few others. With full turbo charging, it may be desireable to switch to street or racing gears at tracks like Midfield or SSR5.

There are three stages of turbo available, which boost power up to 276 hp @ 6,600 rpms with full Stage 2 tuning, and 340 hp with Stage 3. At this level, only the Mugen Civic Type R and '98 Honda Civic Type R match the Alfa's power in GT2 (so far as front-drive compacts go), although both of these cars also wind up being several hundred pounds lighter than the Cloverleaf Alfa.
 
Still, this extra FWD power helps the Alfa keep up with the Ai in many, many races available in GT2...you may be surprised. I certainly was.
 
 

---------------CHASSIS / HANDLING----------------

Despite the dopey, unbalanced look of the 145, (not to mention its extra pounds), the car handles very well, much better than I expected. Since this is a short-wheelbase FWD with minimal rear overhang, oversteer is rare, and understeer is surprisingly manageable. Almost pleasant!

This is one fine hatch to race; it'll often get by faster cars in the corners by outbraking them, then it's possible to plant the accelerator early once the car is lined up and ready to leave whatever corner it's in. The 145 will then dig in to the road with a bit of understeer (just enough to make things exciting) but nothing too furious. I'm not saying it's perfect, I'm just saying it's manageable and fun.

With Stage 2 turbo, racing aspiration, and the computer, you can safely use sports tires and suspension for any of the races that allow cars in a 300 to 450 hp range, even though the Alfa will only be pushing 276 hp. Add a 1-way differential, carbon brakes, and @ 2 to 2.5 of front camber (almost no rear camber is needed since the 13 foot-long car never oversteers) and this car is almost unstoppable! Advanced drivers shouldn't need racing slicks till the engine is fully modified. Unless they're total wimps, that is. ;-)~

But hold on, don't get too cocky. You may face some enigmas here and there: mostly, sliding. When this car's tires hit their limit, the 'pleasant' Sunday-drive garden variety understeer will quickly turn to 4-wheel sliding, and unfortunately the 145 will lose speed if the driver isn't too careful. It also does rather poorly in traffic. If the car can get by other cars in corners without touching them, it'll be fine, but if it happens to get hit hard enough by the AI to get even a little bit sideways, the Cloverleaf's superior grip will instantly vanish for a few seconds. Though the car makes up for lost speed easily with its snarly-sounding engine, it's those few seconds when it is sliding sideways -- tires struggling for grip, that can be hard to watch!

But truthfully, it's possible to use this car's understeer to our advantage. When I raced at Deep Forest and Trail Mountain recently, I found I could stomp those brakes late, outbrake the others, and jump back on the gas with tires fully smoking, and still beat the pack -- which included several very pissed-off TVR and RUF Porsche drivers I might add!! 
 

PROS---------------------------------------------------

1). Understeer can actually be FUN. There, I said it.

2). Excellent grip 80% of the time. Street and sport tires can be relied upon for quite a while.

3). Excellent handling can be achieved even with the economically-priced sports suspension package.

4). Decent top speed available, thanks to the gearbox, though it could be better. Good thing there are 3 turbos available after-market.

5). Torque curve is nice and flat, which keeps power distribution available over a range of 4,000 rpms. Not bad for a 4-cylinder.

6). 7,750 rpm redline. And you won't need to use it all in racing situations!
 

CONS--------------------------------------------------

1). Hmmm... a bit pricey.

2). Also a bit heavy for a 3-door hatch. Some sedans (like the Alfa 155) are of comparable weight. I would expect that this car could be reduced down to Civic poundage.

3). Sliding and occasional mini-spins caused by packed-up AI traffic buffeting this car will kill the 145's awesome cornering ability in a flash.

4). It's almost as if the designer of the 145's bodywork punched the clock a bit early. It looks kinda cool, but also kinda doofy and unfinished.

5). This is a minor fault: 145 Cloverleaf fans will be able to dominate many of the available races in GT2, but not all of them.

6). Steering is too sensitive at times, though this can be minimized with extra camber and/or harder compound tires.
 

Published: October 14, 2004
 

back to car reviews