Alfa Romeo GT 2004 review
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Alfa Romeo is reclaiming the word that formed its backbone.
Performance. It is the one word on which Alfa's history was based, becoming its philosophy through to the 1970s before buyers started demanding room for their children and the focus on performance became blurred.
But there have been some exceptions – among them Giulietta Sprint, Alfetta and more recently the 156/147GTA – to warm the blood.
Explore the 2004 Alfa Romeo GT range
And now, released this week, there's the GT.
Dubbed a coupe – though more a hatch thanks to its wide-opening bootlid – the GT replaces the four-door 156GTA and sits on a similar platform with a near-identical drivetrain.
Though it shares the same wheelbase as the 156, the GT is longer, wider and lower than its donor and – thanks to some superb styling by Italian design house Bertone – stunningly beautiful in the flesh.
It gets the GTA's 3.2-litre quad-cam V6 engine, though it sheds 8kW in the transfer and keeps the same torque and acceleration times. The six-speed manual transmission is the only offering – so no full automatic or Alfa's Selespeed – to reiterate the performance theme.
The GT's interior has overtones of the 156, though the quality of the leather and the impressive comfort and support of the seats better reflects its GT status.
Alfa Romeo Australian importers Ateco Automotive this week said its only concern was supply. Alfa has budgeted on making 14,000 GTs a year, but demand is near 30,000.
Not that anyone is unhappy about the figures. Governing director of Ateco Neville Crichton said sales showed the car competed well with all its German competitors.
"We expect to sell 100 GTs this year," he said.
"It's no secret we have had supply problems from Italy early this year but they'll pick up in the second half."
The $79,990 GT competes with coupes from the Holden Monaro to the Nissan 350Z, BMW 325, Chrysler Crossfire, Mercedes CLK and Peugeot 406 Coupe. But the GT boasts higher driver appeal, with brilliant handling and an engine that delivers truckloads of strong power from idle to red line.
The GT can be almost perfectly balanced through fast corners with slingshot acceleration out of the bends afforded by the engine's meaty torque.
The brakes are some of the best stoppers on the market and the suspension so good that it can be difficult to pick this as a front-wheel-drive car.
But this delightful car is let down badly by noise from the suspension, tyres and unknown bits of bodywork.
As expected, the GT has a firm ride. But it has a poor ability to absorb road bumps and will send jarring messages to occupants' spines.
Range and Specs
|3.2||3.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$6,500 – 10,010||2004 Alfa Romeo GT 2004 3.2 Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data