Alfa Romeo GT 2004 review
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Hurrying is something this car does well. Plant your foot and the engine note, always a friendly burble, moves up the scale to a full-blown snarl as the Italian coupe scoots forward.
This is what motoring in the new Alfa Romeo GT is all about. It not only looks like a sports car, but goes like one. If there's a gap in the traffic, it will get there, sweetly, neatly.
Oh, there are times when you curse the GT – try it on a bumpy road, try doing a U-turn in a narrow street – but when the conditions are right, it can be a seductive thing indeed.
For one thing, there is the way it looks, slinky enough to turn heads wherever it goes.
And there is the way it drives. Strong acceleration, with grip and steering to match, all coming together to allow it to zoom along in a hearty fashion.
The feedback through the wheel – and the seat of your pants – is spot-on. The engine responds with delightful eagerness, the brakes are strong, every gear engages with snick-snick precision.
For some reason – perhaps it's that long, low snout and aggressive grille – I kept imagining it as a shark cruising through a school of little fish. That's how you feel behind the wheel of the GT.
Trouble is, the daydream takes a severe dent when you attempt a U-turn. The turning circle is an inconveniently large 12.1m, bigger than even a Mitsubishi Pajero 4WD's.
There is also the way that, at suburban speeds, it feels every lump and bump in the bitumen, so much that you wonder if it is deliberately seeking them out.
On the open road, corrugations and ripples make the GT feel jittery and jiggly, taking the edge off what otherwise would be an exhilarating driving experience.
Your passenger tries to adjust the radio volume but the car is bumping around, so it switches from AM to FM instead . . . and getting back to AM proves to be a real challenge. So give the fiddly radio buttons a demerit mark, too.
Obviously the GT subscribes to the theory that sports cars do not need to be too sensible.
The speedometer goes to 300km/h, but the only numbers in the legal zone are 30, 60, 90 – smaller increments are marked by black stripes on a dark background, which require a long, hard stare to see whether you're going 80km/h or 100km/h, say. Trouble is, by the time you've read the speedo, a police camera could have taken your picture.
Don't get a blowout far from help, because there is no spare tyre. Not even a spacesaver, just a blow-up kit to re-inflate a flat tyre and seal a puncture.
Thank goodness the car is fitted with reverse parking sensors, because rearward vision is limited by a small window and high tail.
One final gripe: The accelerator and brake pedals are close together, and almost the same height, so newcomer drivers need to be careful where they put their right foot.
Ah, but coupes are all about emotion. Owning one is a heart-over-the-head thing. Here, the GT has the looks and, well, the sheer presence, to get away with sins which would be unforgivable in a $19,990 hatchback.
No matter if cars like this are less practical, and more expensive, than their sedan brothers. They're designed to lift the spirit, thanks to the way they look, the way they drive. For some people, emotion will win and a sports car like this will be a pure joy on wheels.
However, Mazda's RX-8 proves that an agile sportster can also have decent rear-seat access; Nissan's 350Z shows how a supple ride need not get in the way of pinpoint-accurate steering and a tenacious level of grip.
To be fair, for a coupe, visibility to the sides is excellent. The central pillar is thin and well back, the rear windows are a decent size.
The GT also earns high marks in the convenience department for its boot, surprisingly roomy for a compact coupe – especially after you see how the big Monaro's luggage space has shrunk with its latest makeover.
There are other handy points, such as the split-fold rear seat, the radio which automatically adjusts its volume to suit the car's speed, even a pop-out cupholder in the dashboard...in a fully-fledged sports car, no less.
Mere trifles, though, compared with the joy of launching the GT when your passenger tells you to hurry up.
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