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It's all a load of bollocks, quite frankly

Alfa Romeo GT

Some say that to be a true petrolhead, you must have owned an Alfa Romeo at some time in your life. I’ve never owned one, however class myself as a bona fide petrolhead. I have however, worked for a Fiat and Alfa Romeo dealership for nearly a decade can appreciate the cars without having to make the decision of buying one. However, now my days remaining at Alfa are fading fast due to a decision to move on, I thought I’d get a couple of road tests in first.

Alfa Romeos remain one of my biggest passion ever since I was a child. My first toy car was an Alfasud Sprint and I loved it. The first cars I really took an interest in were Alfas and it is Alfa more than anything that pretty much cememted my obsession with Italian motors.

One of my favourite Alfas of recent years is the smart, yet discreet Alfa GT, which launched in 2004 ended production earlier this year. A sleek, elegant and understated coupe that is a genuine four seater and has a fairly decent sized boot. But it’s a sports coupe and an Alfa, so really the practicality side of it means as much to me as a promise from Bono. What is important is what it looks like, what it sounds like and what it drives like. Engine choices when new were a choice of 1.8 or 2.0 petrol in-line fours, the glorious 3.2 V6 petrol and a 1.9 turbo diesel.

So let’s get started with the styling. I will accept no arguments here, it is a desperately pretty thing. From the front, side and rear end, I’m struggling to find a point on this car that I do not like aesthetically. Same thing with the interior. Open the pillarless doors and you are met with hugging leather sports seats and a wrap around dashboard with classic hooded dials. It all feels very driver focussed. Standard equipment on this car includes electric mirrors and windows, alarm, bluetooth connectivity, MP3 compatibility. It has got everything you need in there. And as mentioned before, it geuninely is a comfortable four seater. True, adults will feel cramped in the back over a long haul but there’s enough room in there.

I’ve driven about 40 or so different GTs and driven all the engine choices available, but today I’m driving the best all-rounder in the range. That would be the 1.9 diesel lump. The thoughts of a diesel Alfa, once thought to be sacrilege, is now common place with the Fiat Group producing some of the best diesel engines in the business. This particular unit is well suited to the GT and with 170bhp on tap provides impressive amounts of performance, pull and torque. In fact performs better than the four-cylinder petrol lumps. It’s also the pick up of the bunch for the overall driving experience. Based largely on the Alfa 156 chassis, handling is faily neutral and predictable with a good turn in from the sharp steering set up. Later models which had the Q2 limited slip diff, as fitted to this car, is certainly an improvement over earlier models providing far better traction whilst ploughing on in the bends.

So, we’ve established the 1.9JTD is the best all round model in the GT range. It is, however, the model I’m least likely to pick. I don’t mind diesels per se, but not in an Alfa sports coupe. And especially not with the V6 in the model line up.

For me, it has to be the 3.2 V6 model, for all its faults. Yes, having so much power going through the front wheels means occasionally it handles like a three-legged terrier if you put the power on where you really shouldn’t. It also becomes quite nose heavy. But you only have to turn the ignition key to wonder what all the fuss is about. One of the finest sounding engines ever built, and one of the highest regarded V6 units in the business. It’s not just the sound and performance from the engine, but you only just have to look at it. You’ll find polished chrome pipework, bright red scripture. The likes of which you simply won’t find in something from Dagenham or Bavaria. The engine is well proven and, providing cam belts and general maintenance are taken care of, these are bomb proof.

The GT is far from perfect. While it is an entertaining drive, there are others out there that will run rings around it. There are minor irritations such as interior build quality and in some places fit and finish. The car I drove literally had more rattles than Mothercare. There are more slight irritations that would put most people off in no time, but not me. It is an Alfa and Alfas never are perfect, and nor do I ever want them to be. However, give me a 3.2 V6 GT finished in Alfa red and you are getting as close to perfect for me. A glorious sight and sound, if you can hear the engine above the rattle from the dashboard. And the parcel shelf. And the door panel.

 

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July 27, 2011 - Posted by | Motoring

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