Alfa Romeo Arna

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Alfa Romeo Arna
Alfa Arna.JPG
Alfa Romeo Arna three door
ManufacturerAlfa Romeo Nissan Autoveicoli S.p.A.
53,047 produced
AssemblyItaly: Pratola Serra
Body and chassis
ClassSmall family car (C)
Body style3-door hatchback
5-door hatchback
LayoutFront-engine, front-wheel drive
RelatedNissan Cherry Europe
Nissan Pulsar Milano
Holden Astra
  • 1.2 L Boxer H4
  • 1.3 L Boxer H4
  • 1.5 L Boxer H4
Transmission5 speed manual
Wheelbase2,416 mm (95.1 in)
Length4,000 mm (157.5 in)
Width1,621 mm (63.8 in)
Height1,340 mm (52.8 in)
Curb weight850 kg (1,874 lb)
PredecessorAlfa Romeo Alfasud Hatchback
SuccessorAlfa Romeo 33

The Alfa Romeo Arna (an acronym for "Alfa Romeo Nissan Autoveicoli", meaning "Alfa Romeo[-]Nissan motor vehicles", but also a female Italian name) (Type 920) is a hatchback produced by the Italian manufacturer Alfa Romeo Nissan Autoveicoli S.p.A. between 1983 and 1987. The company was founded on 9 October 1980, as a 50:50 joint venture between the Italian Alfa Romeo S.p.A. and the Japanese Nissan Motor Company.[1]


On 9 October 1980, Takashi Ishihara of Nissan and Alfa Romeo President Ettore Massacesi signed a memorandum in Tokyo for increased cooperation between their two firms, and revealed their intent to create a joint production venture called AR.N.A. S.p.A. (Alfa Romeo Nissan Autoveicoli). Italian Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga endorsed the deal, despite political and auto industry opposition, because he hoped to bolster the fortunes of the state owned manufacturer, which had a cult following but was losing money.[2]

The immediate priority of Alfa management, including Massacesi and managing director Corrado Innocenti was to field a competitor in the increasingly lucrative family hatchback market sector where the compact Volkswagen Golf and Lancia Delta were proving successful, and they hoped an alliance with Nissan would bring a competitive model to market faster and more cheaply.

During that period, European countries were engaging in protectionism to guard their domestic car industries, with France even banning the import of Japanese made vehicles. Working with Alfa Romeo, who controlled a respectable amount of European auto sales at the time was seen as a good hedge for Nissan and a chance to establish a foothold in the European market.[3]

Alfa Romeo Arna five door

For the joint venture, a new plant was constructed in Pratola Serra, near Naples. The body panels of the car were constructed in Japan by Nissan, then shipped to Italy for final assembly. Nissan and Alfa Romeo also engaged in a commercial cabover truck, called the Romeo and rebadged as the Nissan Trade for a short time.

The product of the relationship was launched at the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show; the car's name was an acronym meaning Alfa Romeo Nissan Autoveicoli. The Arna was largely based on the N12 series Nissan Pulsar / Nissan Cherry but featured Alfa Romeo engines carried over from the Alfasud, as well as an Alfa transmission, steering, front brakes and front suspension.

It did however use an independent rear suspension and rear brakes from Nissan. The Arna was also briefly marketed as the Nissan Cherry Europe in the United Kingdom and Spain. Italian built cars badged as Nissan Cherry Europe can be readily identified by their rear lighting clusters, which match those of the Arna rather than the Japanese built Cherry.

Although no variants of the Italian built Arna were ever sold in Japan, a domestic version of the N12 Nissan Pulsar, labelled the Nissan Pulsar Milano X1, made use of the Alfa Romeo connection in its publicity and was fitted with the same black and green interior as the Arna Ti or Cherry Europe GTi. The model was entirely N12 based, though, and featured the usual transversely mounted Nissan E engine.[4]

While British Leyland and Honda had a limited partnership in the United Kingdom at that time, the Nissan and Alfa Romeo alliance was the first of its kind between a European and Japanese automaker with joint investment into manufacturing and development. It was feared by the European Economic Community and ironically, Alfa's future parent Fiat, that the success of this partnership would create a Trojan horse, enabling Japanese automakers to compete "unfairly" in Europe, and thereby take sales away from other European auto-makers.[3]

However, such fears were quickly allayed upon the Arna's release when it became obvious that the Arna exhibited the worst qualities of each of its parents.[5] The Arna featured tempestuous mechanicals, rust prone bodywork and indifferent build quality courtesy of Alfa Romeo,[6] married to a Nissan body of questionable build and frumpy, box like styling, with insipid handling common to Japanese cars of the time.[7]

This mismatch of technical strengths served to kill the sales of the Arna very rapidly. As the car gained a reputation for poor build quality and questionable reliability, sales of the Nissan badged Cherry Europe sister car also nosedived, as loyal Nissan customers shunned it in favour of the "genuine" Japanese built Cherry instead.

By 1986, Alfa Romeo's parent company, the Italian government owned Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale was suffering from heavy losses, and IRI president Romano Prodi put Alfa Romeo up for sale, with Fiat ultimately emerging as the new owner of Alfa. Fiat's first decision was to cease Arna production owing to its poor reputation and poor sales, and to terminate the unsuccessful Alfa Romeo Nissan alliance. Production ceased in 1987, with Fiat intending to strengthen the competitiveness of the Alfa Romeo 33 as Alfa's entry in that segment. By this time, Nissan had set up a European operation of its own at Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK in Sunderland, which became hugely successful.


The Arna was initially sold as a three-door L and a five-door SL, and was fitted with the Alfasud 1.2 boxer engine (63 PS). In 1984, a three-door TI version, with an 86 PS (63 kW; 85 hp) 1.3-litre boxer four engine, was introduced, which was capable of reaching a top speed of 170 km/h (106 mph). In November 1984 (model year 1985) came a more powerful 1.2 engine in the same trim configurations with 68 PS (50 kW; 67 hp), while there were no external differences there were light alterations to the interior.[8]

Later, there were also some TI trim cars built with 1.5-litre engines, sold also as the Nissan Cherry Europe GTI.[9] The more powerful 1.5 TI/Cherry GTI had a top speed of 175 km/h (109 mph).[10] The TI version was discontinued halfway through 1986.


Engine Model Engine code Displacement (cc) Configuration Max power PS (kW) Max torque Top speed Acceleration 0 to 100 km/h (0-62 mph) (s) Availability
1,2 L/LS AS 305 1 186 Flat-4 63 (46) at 6,000 rpm 88 N⋅m (65 lb⋅ft) at 2,000 rpm 155 km/h (96 mph) 1983/84
1,2 L/LS AS 305 1 186 Flat-4 68 (50) at 6,000 rpm 92 N⋅m (68 lb⋅ft) at 2,000 rpm 156 km/h (97 mph) 14,1 1984/87
1,4 TI AS 300006 1 351 Flat-4 71 (52) at 5,800 rpm 107 N⋅m (79 lb⋅ft) at 3,000 rpm 156 km/h (97 mph) 1983/84
1,4 TI AS 31010 1 351 Flat-4 86 (63) at 5,800 rpm 121 N⋅m (89 lb⋅ft) at 4,000 rpm 173 km/h (107 mph) 1984/86
1,5 TI AS 31016 1 490 Flat-4 95 (70) at 5,800 rpm 133 N⋅m (98 lb⋅ft) at 4,000 rpm 175 km/h (109 mph) 1984/87



  1. ^ "Ital signs deal with Nissan". Montreal Gazette. 22 September 1980. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  2. ^ "Alfa Venture". The Age. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Now it's Nissan-Alfa in Italy". Ottawa Citizen. Associated Press. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  4. ^ "1986 Nissan Pulsar 3Door Hatchback 1500 Milano X1 (up to May 1986 for Japan ) specs review". Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  5. ^ "MSN Cars 'Top ten disastrous cars'". Archived from the original on 21 November 2006.
  6. ^ "Alfa Romeo gallery". Auto Express. Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  7. ^ "Alfa Romeo Arna". Archived from the original on 3 April 2008. Retrieved 18 March 2008.
  8. ^ Mastrostefano, Raffaele, ed. (January 1985). "Ora corre con qualche cavallo in più" [Now running with a few more horses]. Quattroruote (in Italian). Milan, Italy: Editoriale Domus. 30 (351): 82–83.
  9. ^ "ARNA". Archived from the original on 18 November 2007. Retrieved 29 October 2007.
  10. ^ "1985 Alfa Romeo Arna 1.5 Ti". Retrieved 29 October 2007.
  11. ^