THE ALFASUD was Alfa Romeo's first challenger in the small car market, a distinct departure from the Milan company's previous offerings and to produce it a new factory was created at Pomigliano near Naples.
In Italy the front-wheel-drive "Alfa for the masses" was a relatively cheap car, but the same was not the case for exported examples. On the credit side the Alfasud had a sophisticated flat-four engine, superb handling and road-holding, it was surprisingly spacious (the four-door body being capable of carrying five people with adequate luggage), and the car was astonishingly quiet and comfortable.
Once inside it was easy to see where Alfa were trying to save the pennies, the appointments being cheap and tasteless. While acceleration figures of 0-60 in 14.9 sec. and a top speed of over 90 m.p.h. were extremely creditable for such a small engine, they failed to reveal the real drawback of the Alfasud, a dissappointing lack of low speed torque and throttle response leading to the need for far too many revs.
To move the 16.3 cwt. car from rest and continual rowing of the precise gear-change, the lever being surrounded by the usual Alfa bellows and linked to the gearbox by a rod system. Performance dropped considerably with a full load.
Once under way at reasonable speed on the open road the sophistication of the Alfasud was apparent in its quietness and ease of cruising up to maximum speed. Early examples had troublesome single-choke Solex carburetter which sat on top and in the middle, of the one-piece, cast iron engine block and fed the mixture through two very long, water heated, alloy inlet manifolds, one to each bank.
Those inlet tracts were extraordinarily long, surrrounded by hot water and directly in the rising heat from the engine block. The size of the carburetter managed to restrict the power output, though it didn't seem to help economy. Thankfully this was addressed with the Ti.
The boxer engine sat ahead of the front wheels, its configuration allowing for a low bonnet line. Drive to the front wheels was via an all indirect four-speed gearbox behind the engine, contained in the same alloy casing as the hypoid differential and the selfing, 7 in. single-plate, hydraulic clutch. The driveshafts had deuble constant velocity joints.
Though the engine block was iron, the cross-flow cylinder heads were alloy. Combustion chambers were in the pistons plus a small part of the cylinders. There was a single overhead camshaft to each bank, activated by toothed belts from the steel crankshaft and easy tappet clearance was provided by an Allen-key operated screw pad on top of each valve stem, accessible through holes in the camshaft. A four-branch exhaust manifold, two pipes per bank, merges into a single system.
The front-mounted radiator was aided by a thermoostatically controlled electric fan and an alternator was standard. Within a sort of sub-compartment between the windscreen and the engine were housed the top mountings of the McPherson struts, a Varta battery, a screenwasher bottle, fuse box, tandem brake master cylinder, reservoir and optional servo, and the steering rack and pinion. This double bulkkhead, together with liberal use of sound deadening materials insulated occupants from engine noise very effectively.
The front suspension was McPherson strut type and the rear was equally simple, employing a beam axle controlled by a Panhard rod, Watts linkage and vertical dampers/coil springs, a system which kept the wheels effectively vertical at all times.
It consumed very little space, too, enabling an 50 liter (11 gallon) fuel tank to be fitted under the flat boot floor, along with the spare wheel. The track was very wide, which, combined with the fat 165/70 SR 13 Ceat tires, giving the Alfasud a pronounced "glued to the road" squat appearance.
- Years of Manufacture: 1972 - 1988
- Designer: Italdesign
- Number Built: n/a
- Alfasud Ti two-door saloon
- Alfasud four-door saloon
- Alfasud three-door hatchback
- Alfasud five-door hatchback
- Alfasud three-door estate
- Alfasud three-door coupé (Alfasud Sprint / Sprint).
- Date of Introduction:
- Monocoque steel body. The front engine mounting and the front lower suspension links are connected with a cross-member which is screwed to the front rails with four screws
- Exterior Dimensions:
- Total Length: 3934mm (154.9 in)
- Total width: 1590 mm (62.6 in)
- Height at kerb weight: 1370 mm (53.9 in)
- Wheelbase: 2455 mm (96.7 in)
- Front Track: 1384 mm (54.5 in)
- Rear Track: 1351 mm (53.2 in)
- Kerb Weight:
- Fuel Tank:
- 50 liters (11 UK imperial Gal / 13.2 US Gal)
- Turning Circle:
- Speedometer (with integral tripmeter and odometer)
- Petrol gauge
- Temp gauge
- Ammeter gauge
- Oil gauge
- Four or five speed gearbox
- Case made of aluminum
- Forward gears with Porsche-type synchromesh
- Manual floor gear lever
- Self adjusting, hydraulically operated single dry plate clutch with diaphragm spring
- Rear Axle Ratio:
- Hypoid bevel differential, final drive 4.11:1
- Maximum Speed:
- Fuel Consumption:
- Engine (4 Cylinder):
- Engine sizes
- 1186cc (80mm bore x 59mm stroke)
- 1286cc (80mm bore x 64mm stroke)
- 1351cc (80mm bore x 67.20mm stroke)
- 1490cc (84mm bore x 67.20mm stroke)
- 1712cc (87 mm bore x 72mm stroke)
- Type: Liquid-cooled four cylinder Boxer-engine (horizontaly opposed). One piece cast iron engine block / crankcase. Three-bearing steel crankshaft in steel backed tin alloy bearings. Light alloy cylinder heads. One overhead camshaft per row (driven by one toothed belt each). Two valves per cylinder. Directly operarting on oil bath cups. Stellite faced exhaust valves. Hydraulic tappets (for Sprint 1.7 QV / 1.7 IE QV only). Lubrication: wet sump pressure and splash, full flow replaceable cartridge. Oil capacity 4.5 liters (incl. filter charge). Water radiator; electrically driven, thermostatically controlled fan, mechanical, belt-driven pump.
- Configuration: Front mounted
- Head: Pushrod and rocker actuated ohv
with two valves per cylinder
- Fuel System: Vertical single-barrel carburetor, one or two twin-choke downdraft carburetors or Bosch LE 3.1 Jetronic (Sprint 1.7 IE QV only). Firing order 1 - 3 - 2 - 4.
- Specifications for 1287cc 78.538 cu in
- Bore and Stroke: 80.00 mm (3.15 in) × 64.00 mm (2.52 in)
- Power: 68.9 PS (68.0 bhp) (50.7 kW) @ 6000 rpm
- Torque: 99.0 Nm (73 ft·lb) (10.1 kgm)
@ 3500 rpm
- Compression Ratio: 8.80:1
- Ignition and Electrical:
- Varta 12 volt battery
- Coil and alternator
- Four-branch exhaust manifold, two pipes per bank, merges into a single system.
- Front: Independent
type, Macpherson strut with vetical (double acting) telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers and heliocoidal springs. Lower wishbone with stabiliser bar
- Rear: Rigid rear axle located longitudinally by Watts linkage and transversely by Panhard rod. Hydraulic telescopic shock absorbers and heliocoidal springs. Till 1985: rear axle made of pressed steel. From 1985: tube-type rear axle.
- Rack-and-Pinion with a ratio of 18,27:1. 3,25 turns lock to lock. Two-piece column connected by universal joint, with flexible mountings on rack. Turning circle between kerbs 5,60, 11,20 between walls
- Dual circuit brake system (from 1973 with servo assitance)
- Two independent brake circuits, one for the front brakes, one for the rear brakes
- A Brake pressure limiter (bias valve) for the rear wheels avoids locked wheels at the rear when braking hard
- Front: Disc, 10.15 in. (servo assisted)
- Rear: Disc, 9.17 in. (servo assisted)
- Parking brake mechanically operated on front inboard mounted disc brakes
- 13" Pressed steel disc wheels
Four-wheel discs were quite an innovation for a small car and what's more the 10.15 in. front ones were inboard mounted and had the handbrake connected to them. The rear discs were 9.17 in. diameter. Resultant braking was excellent without a trace of instability or wheel-locking. Wet or dry the Ceat radials were almost impossible to break away. The ride over any surface was almost as good as the Citroen GS
, which the Alfasud exceeded slightly in price, and the general feeling behind the wheel is one of tautness in suspension and body.
Once a high cruising speed has been reached and could be maintained the Alfasud was able to show superiority over contemporary 2-liter cars in terms of lack of wind noise and subdued engine and road noises. Even better, straight line stability up to maximum speed was the equal of any car then on the road, another virtue of the engine in the nose and front-wheel-drive.
The steering column was adjustable and the driving position was good, but the pedals were offset to the left, the floor was rubber covered and instrumentation was restricted. The interior was cheap and disappointing. Rubber mats covered the floor, admittedly practical but lowering the tone, the facia and door trims were cheap and plasticky.
The seats were cloth-covered and comfortable, but the knurled knobs for adjusting the back-rests were obstructed by the door pillars. The driving position was excellent, the dished, alloy spoked, soft plastic rimmed wheel being adjustable in an up-and-down plane. Unfortunately the pedals were set too far to the left. The Veglia speedometer had red-line indications at 26, 48 and 72 m.p.h. interrmediate gear speeds.
A second dial contained (an often badly fluctuating) fuel gauge and warning lights for alternator charge, oil pressure and water temperature (extinguished at 45°C from cold and activated if the coolant became too hot). More warning lights between the dials advised of indicators, main beam and choke behaviour. A right-hand steering column stalk controlled the two-speed wipers (which lifted partly off the screen above 75-80 m.p.h.), two-speed heater blower, powerful but noisy on its fastest speed, and the horn. The opposite stalk controled indicators and all the light functions.
The heating and ventilation system was adequate, but often not up to the job of demisting the sloping back window in any kind of a hurry. Ventilation was via eye-balls at each end of the facia and demisting via grilles in the facia top. A crude plastic flap operated by the left toe switched from heat to demist. Another annoyance was the interior boot lid handle mounted on the left of the passenger seat (put there of course for l.h.d. operation). Impossible to reach from the r.h.d. driver's seat and diffiicult to move at all without opening the passenger door. The boot lid itself lacked a prop and fumbling fingers usually let it fall; meaning another trip round to the passenger door.
The Alfasud has an appealing appearance and distinguished cornering, cruising and braking behaviour, but in the early versions the engine lacked the essential torque to make it pleasant. Many of its appointments were cheap too, but it was likeable and distinctive.