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Alfa Romeo GT 2004 review


Apologies to the great one for borrowing his one liner, but it pretty well describes my drive impressions of Alfa Romeo's new GT, launched on July 1.

Nearly 400km across a spectrum of driving environment – from peak hour Sydney harbour bridge commuting to Hunter Valley back road scratching to Newcastle Expressway cruising – provided a spirited search into the soul of Alfa's latest offering.

The punt north from Wiseman's Ferry to Cessnock particularly reinforced the GT's road holding prowess.

Pushed h-a-r-d through corners, with the 3.2-litre V6 on full song around 6000rpm in second or third gear, you could be forgiven for thinking that this was more than a front wheel drive vehicle.

The Alfa exuded such dynamic grip at all four points of road contact, that it seemed to be driving as much from the rear.

No doubt this is helped by electronic traction and stability control systems that get the power to the ground and keep it there.

What with the stiff suspension (it is a GT), you felt every pot hole, but the car still tracked true and held its line with sure footed confidence.

The GT essentially wears the same suspension set- up as the 147 GTA with double wishbone front and MacPherson struts at the rear.

A longer (50mm) wheel base than the GTA could well assist with making the GT the great handler that it is. Kerb weight is 1410kg.

But there's more to the GT than impressive handling and road holding.

The free-revving V6 is as found in the 156 sedan and 147 GTA hot hatch, save for a mild detune which drops it about 8kW from GTA spec to 176kW at 6200rpm, with maximum torque of 300Nm kicking in at 4800rpm.

The six-speed manual gearbox is sportily spaced with short, positive throws to bring the best out in the engine and gives the maker's claims of 0-100 km/h in just 6.3 seconds credence. Sorry, no auto is available.

The GT stops as well as it goes courtesy of ABS anti-lock brakes bolstered by emergency brake assist to maximise retardation.

Refilling the fuel tank is not on a motoring writer's job description, so we will have to accept Alfa's claims of 12.4l/100km (combined cycle).

Put the car's swoopy styling down to input from coach builder Bertone, designer of the original 1954 Giulietta Sprint which, it could be argued, kick started the gran turismo (GT) concept.

The GT will carry four people, although head room was a problem for a colleague who tried out the rear seats. But then he was a taller than average 185cm (6'2").

In keeping with the svelte Italian styling, the interior is well finished in tan and black leather tones and creature comforts and entertainment include a Bose/Bosch MP3-CD capable hi-fi, dual-zone automatic climate control system, trip computer and xenon headlights.

There is also cruise control, multifunction (and multilingual) information display, rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, remote central locking and remote-control operation of the boot.

If the worse comes to the worst, occupants are well protected by six airbags – two in the front, two front side and two window curtain type – front and rear anti-submarining seats, inertia-reel seat belt pretensioner and load limiter and a fire protection system that prevents fuel loss on impact, in a roll-over or in damage to the fuel lines.

Distributor Ateco expects to sell "perhaps 150" GTs a year locally.

The RRP of $79,990 puts it up against BMW's 3 Series coupe, Mercedes-Benz Sports Coupe, Audi TT, Nissan 350Z, Mazda RX-8 and Chrysler Crossfire.

Exalted company. But the Alfa Romeo GT more than deserves comparison – and a test drive.

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3.2 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $6,500 – 10,010 2004 Alfa Romeo GT 2004 3.2 Pricing and Specs
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