This was mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, borrowed from Citroën, itself a fellow Fiat subsidiary at the time. Drive was through the front wheels.
The Beta’s suspension, meanwhile, was of the MacPherson-strut type for all for wheels, with wishbones for the fronts and transverse arms for the rears, and coil springs all round.
“Another departure from traditional Lancia practice,” we noted, was the adoption of rack-and-pinion steering.
Introductions aside, off we went.
“Having had appetites whetted by the model’s advanced specification, prospective buyers will be keen to learn how it behaves on the road,” we said. “With a few minor reservations, they will not be disappointed.”
In ideal conditions, we achieved a top speed of 109mph in the Beta, the precise figure claimed by Lancia itself.
“It is significant that maximum speed is coincident with the peak of the power curve,” we reported, but, frustratingly, “whilst such gearing is ideal from the all-out performance viewpoint, it does rob the car of the ability to cruise unobtrusively at wide throttle openings. Anything more than 95mph on the clock involves considerable fuss."
Our attempts to test the Beta for acceleration came in the pouring rain, and so any attempt at a full-throttle capriccio bore nothing but “furious wheelspin”.
In a more measured method, we achieved a 0-30mph time of 3.8sec, 0-60mph in 10.7sec and 0-95mph in 33.1sec; a performance in which we considered the Beta to have “acquitted itself extremely well”.
The gearbox we also evaluated with positivity, although it wasn’t called into action as frequently as we may have expected due to the engine's “pleasant flexibility”.
Fuel economy was decent, too: “Despite being driven brutally hard, the test car averaged 24.3mpg”.
When compared to its (somewhat ironic) rival, the Fiat 132 Special 1800, the Beta came out on top for top speed, acceleration and fuel economy.
However, the Beta’s engine was comparatively slow to warm, and “the general level of mechanical noise was higher than expected for a car in this class,” reaching a fortissimo at 5000rpm, “despite having an electric cooling fan”.
When it came to ride and handling, we found that “inevitably, the concentration of mechanical components at the front has resulted in considerable front heaviness”.