Alfa Romeo GT 2005 review
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The Italian is a bit too costly, but it does the rest of the job.
It is a two-plus-two coupe with an emphasis on style. It has a two-litre engine that's not too wild and it's good to drive.
The GT is doing the same sort of job as the Celica: setting a style and direction, luring customers into showrooms and getting people to think about a brand even when they are not shopping for a car.
Explore the 2005 Alfa Romeo GT range
I have driven the GT before with the high-performance V6 engine, so I was keen to see how it goes with a two-litre JTS engine and the semi-automatic gearbox system called Selespeed.
Most buyers in Australia are going the Selespeed way and, even though I've had dramas with it, I have heard plenty about improvements.
The gearbox is a full manual but with a sequential shift system that takes over the clutch work and decisions on shifts when you use it as an automatic.
The driver can always override the system with a flick of the steering-wheel paddles or by bumping the gear lever. And the latest software forces the car to hold a gear through to redline when it previously upshifted on its own.
Selespeed was developed for the Ferrari F355 to turn a manual gearbox into an automatic for city work and for customers who don't want to shift all their gears all the time. It was lumpy at first but is much better now.
"Eighty per cent of Alfa Romeo sales in Australia are with Selespeed. It is fitted to all our models except the luxury 166," Alfa Australia spokesman Edward Rowe says. "Australia vies with Japan as the No 1 Selespeed market. GT sales are doing 12 to 20 cars a month, depending on supply, and 70 per cent are the JTS with Selespeed."
But Australia is still tiny business for Alfa. Sales are less than 1 per cent of annual production. The GT is part of a style revolution at Alfa Romeo and has taken over from the very old GTV. It shares its basic mechanical package with the 156 Sportwagon, but the great-looking coupe body is new.
The JTS Selespeed model is $64,950 and the engine is a hi-tech hummer, producing 121kW of power but with lean-burn technology and direct injection to boost its all-round efficiency.
Alfa says it sprints to 100km/h in 8.7 seconds and has fuel economy better than 7 litres/100km in European trials. There are other benefits, including the full luxury package from the GT V6 for $15,000 less. Only four or five buyers a month are going for the V6.
ON THE ROAD
YOU can't question the looks of the Alfa GT. It turns lots of heads.
The GT has a fantastic shape, with all the traditional Alfa triggers, from the bold grille and bodywork that looks best in classic red to tan leather seats and a dashboard with two big dials to monitor the essentials.
The ride and handling is good, too, and the two-litre JTS engine in my test car was suitably responsive and light on the pumps.
It's not the quickest thing around, but it is quite swift – and the overall economy during my test drive of 9.8 litres/100km is good on a car that likes to be driven.
The JTS engine is very responsive and it has a typically Alfa note, but it isn't quite as charismatic as the V6.
I also enjoyed all the equipment, particularly the sound system and the shape of the seats, and the price is pretty good for what you get. It's not nearly as affordable as a Celica, but you wouldn't really expect it to be.
Range and Specs
|3.2||3.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$6,500 – 10,010||2005 Alfa Romeo GT 2005 3.2 Pricing and Specs|
|JTS Selespeed||2.0L, PULP, 5 SP||$5,500 – 8,580||2005 Alfa Romeo GT 2005 JTS Selespeed Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data