Tuning the Alfa Romeo 146

"Thanks for reading my Alfa Romeo 146 tuning guide."

We examine 146 tuning and show the premier modifications for your car. Alfa Romeo 146's are popular cars and with the best tuning upgrades you can dramatically maximise your driving experience.

The 146 is quite a popular car for tuning up and our members have some interesting projects on the go.

The car is true to the Alfa Romeo driving philosophy with fun practically guaranteed.

Tragically it's not uncommon to  see people wasting money on their Alfa Romeo 146 doing the wrong mods and then having to start afresh. Follow our advice to avoid wasting your money.

We love the handling of the 146 but even this will benefit from suspension upgrades.The 146 is a good project car to do. Plan ahead and research 146 tuning to save yourself making the usual costly errors we typically come across.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Don't just look at the peak power figures, you need to see the whole torque curve when determining if a mod is right for you 146.

146 make good sleepers if you debadge them and fit the most powerful engine mods and handling upgrades you can !

Smaller engines do not provide much of a return in terms of power so start with a bigger engine. Engine swaps are a good option if you have a small engine size.

Engine Tuning.

Typically these motorsport upgrades are usually carried out by our members, decide how far you want to go before you begin.

The 146 is a great car to drive, and it came with a wide choice of engines including the lovely sounding Boxer engines.

  • 1.4 L Boxer
  • 1.6 L Boxer
  • 1.7 L Boxer
  • 1.4 L Twin Spark
  • 1.6 L Twin Spark
  • 1.8 L Twin Spark
  • 2.0 L Twin Spark
  • 1.9 L turbocharged diesel)
  • 1.9 L JTD (turbocharged diesel)

The 1.4 feels a little underpowered here and is crying out for some upgrades and mods.

All engines respond well when tuned and a few select performance upgrades are added

Getting the right modified parts for your planned usage of the car is essential. Stage 3 motor sport parts just don't work well on the road difficult in stop start traffic.

Stage 1 mods: Alloy wheels, Lighter flywheel, Panel air filter, Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm), Remap, Sports exhaust.

Stage 2 mods: Power/Sport clutch, fuel pump upgrades, Fast road cam, Ported and polished head, high flow fuel injector.

Stage 3 mods: Competition cam, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Sports gearbox, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Engine balancing.

Your goal when tuning the engine should be a wide torque curve. You want to avoid sending all the torque to be at the top end unless you are creating a motor sport car.

The whole aim of our tips is to give a starting base of customizing modifications and point you in the right direction, our forum is best place to go if you need more detailed advice and tips on your modified car project, the best uprated parts and all aspects of modding cars.One of the biggest mechanical upgrades you can do to your NASP engine is to fit a fast road cam .

It maximises the intake and exhaust flow and pushes up the power if done right. Ideally you'd add other mods and finish up with a performance chip. We'd also caution you not to go with a motor sport cam as this upsets the engines idling and general town driving characteristics.

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to pay attention to the fuelling.

Most power losses, flat spots and erratic idling after modifications are done can usually be traced to fuel delivery or timing issues.To get sufficient fuel you may need to uprate the injectors on your engine.

Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned 146s uprated injectors.

Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust. Air induction kits only help to increase power if your air intake is restricted! Adding an induction kit to most low power engines will see NO LOW END POWER GAIN AT ALL. If you have heavily modified your engine and it's need for air INCREASES DRAMATICALLY then an induction kit is the answer and will help remove this restriction.

Maximum power gains come from a full induction kit with a cold air feed on heavily tuned engines, this can be sited within an air box but a panel filter should suffice for most applications. TorqueCars suggest you use a panel air filter as these are easy to clean and maintain and generally perform better than paper ones.

Sports exhausts equal out the flow of gases through the engine. But if the exhaust pipe is too large, ie: over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a lot of the exhaust flow rate and end up losing power and torque.

Polishing and porting the head will allow you to maximise your air/fuel charge. Leave this to a professional though with a proper flow bench and machine tools A good multi plate fast road sports clutch will help to keep that power going where it should. Never cut corners or assume a standard clutch to cope. The best mods in our experience for your 146 are a remap especially on a turbo, a fast road camshaft and sports exhaust, with a good air intake.

Remaps offer large power gains on all turbo charged cars. On NASP engines the benefits are doubtful. However a remap on a NASP engine will help unleash the potential if you have done a lot of mods.

We've also seen some tuners playing with twincharged conversions and making some very high power gains.

Adding forced induction will see phenomenal power gains but this is usually too expensive to be cost effective. Turbos are usually harder to add than a supercharger. With a turbo the boost curve is related exponentially to the engine speed making it more challenging to map.

The nice correlating boost and rpm characteristics of the supercharger make them simpler to map. Adding forced induction will usually require a lower compression ratio or water injection.

Handling/Suspension upgrades

Improving the handling for people often first priority in your 146 tuning project.

Putting a tiny bit of negative camber on the fronts and a degree or two of toe out, will usually enhance your 146 in handling and cornering.

We would go to a maximum drop of 21mm - 39 mm on most models. You risk grounding out if you go lower than this.

Alloy wheel upgrades.

Alloy wheels can help the brakes cool down and are usually lighter than the steel ones. If you are serious about performance then you will need to carefully choose your tyres - ideally with a track legal slick tyre. Large 146 alloys can decrease performance. If you get big alloys you will be changing your final drive ratio.

Although some people have with bigger wheels without problems we would restrict ourselves to a 16 inch rim size as the maximum.

There is a more updated version of this Alfa Romeo 146 Tuning article on TorqueCars.com.

For more information on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss 146 options in more detail with our 146 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Alfa Romeo tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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