Even Beta: Lancia´s thrilling new Trevi
Track & Motoring, July 1981
Archie Vicar takes a look at an exciting new sporting luxury saloon from Italy´s respected Lancia marque.
Photos by Greg Orford
Without any doubt Lancia´s engineers have been scratching their heads since 1972, trying to think of a way to top the terrific Beta. Despite its front-drive handicap and an engine donated by Fiat, it really is a cracking car, with much to commend it. So how do they go better than the very best? Simple, they don´t. The Beta Trevi has a different interior and new body panels. But the underpinnings of the Beta are all still there and, some say, thank goodness for that. The Beta Trevi was shown in Geneva about a year ago but it´s only now available in the United Kingdom. We tested a 2 litre model to find out Lancia´s formula for building on their achievements of the 70s and taking them into the 'eighties.
Taking the excellent foundations of the Beta as a their basis, Lancia have been quite ingenious in retaining not a few of that car´s better points and adding some new details. The original Beta was a four-door saloon despite its fastback looks (much like the Citroen GS). Very cleverly, the Beta Trevi is also a four door saloon but it has a boldly cut notchback to prove it. So, now Lancia has not one but two four-door saloons in its line-up: one for people who want saloons that look like hatchbacks and another for people who want their saloon to look upright and boxy.
The Beta Trevi´s engines are also the same as those found in the Beta Berlina: a sprightly 1600 and a sporty 2000. A choice of Weber or Solex carburetors is available. The suspension is fully independent. McPherson struts and coils are positioned all the way around the car, which is handy since the same type of tyre is used on all four wheels too. Those wheels are Pirelli P6 185/65HR 14" radials. As per the Beta, a screw-pillar jack is provided and the screen wipers have two-speeds plus an intermittent setting. So, that´s the Lancia Beta Trevi in overview.
Getting inside the car
Once inside the car, many drivers will notice that the interior is subtly different from many other vehicles. Perhaps inspired by Munich, the dashboard is very much shaped with the driver in mind. The main gauges and dials are recessed in deep tubes all angled towards a point just below the driver´s eyeline. Lancia´s own brochure describes the innovation: "The main instruments are arranged directly in front of the driver." And interestingly, the passenger can see nothing of what the driver is doing speedwise, which is very handy for car with the Beta Trevi´s sporting intent. The seats are very soft and wide thus allowing a lot of freedom for movement, ideal on a long journey on motorways.
A pet hate of mine is losing things in car interiors. I can´t tell you how many Mont Blancs and Bics I´ve lost in test cars, and how many pairs of spectacles, lighters, pipes, boxes of matches and the like that have been lost with them. The Beta Trevi avoids this hazard by having almost nowhere to store personal effects, apart from a small, odd-shaped declivity just to the right of the gear stick. It would be excellent if other manufacturers could also save our time and theirs by stopping the race to have the most places to mislay vital bits of falderal. Incidentally, if you really do have to find somewhere to put things, simply don´t order a radio with your Beta Trevi. It´s not a standard item and the resultant hole in the dash would be a good nook into which to cast a pack of Craven "A" or y