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Alfa GT

21st Century Coupé

The Alfa GT, a new sports coupé derived from the Alfa 156 and seen at the recent Geneva and Frankfurt Motor Shows, is due to go on sale at the end of the year. The model, designed by the Bertone Style Centre, features original, typically Milanese styling that echoes many of the older saloon-based Alfa coupés and already debuts a startling number of engine and trim variations.

4.48 metres long, 1.76 metres wide and 1.37 metres high, the Alfa GT Coupé is aggressive and compact (its wheelbase is just 2.6 metres) and its shape renders it immediately recognisable as an Alfa. Hence the designers' decision to go for smooth, clean styling with the front end dominated by the 2003 Alfa Romeo family grille – slightly larger than when originally launched on the 156. The side-profile of the car appears to grow from this point to produce a slight edge of styling aggression via the raised profile at door-top level leading upwards to the high boot of the car.

These taut lines that meet at the rear, and the small area of glass (compared to the large expanse of metal at the side), add elegance to the design. The slightly raked and tapering tail design is totally new and is paired with large, integral bumpers. The rear window is teardrop-shaped, while the light clusters are embedded in the body to create an attractive wraparound look.

The aim of the car is to offer all the driving satisfaction of a top-performing coupé without ever compromising comfort and practicality. Suffice it to say that the luggage compartment offers a capacity of 320 dm3 (VDA), which is one of the best figures for this segment.

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More V6 power

The Alfa GT has inherited all the mechanical attributes of the Alfa 156. Beginning with its classic suspension layout: double-wishbones at the front, McPherson struts at the rear with transverse rods of different lengths. Other features include two power units, each of which offering some of the best specific power ratings in their cylinder capacity category: the 140 bhp 1.8 T. Spark (available after launch) and the 165 bhp 2.0 JTS. The 150 bhp 1.9 M-Jet 16v is exclusive to the Alfa GT.

The top of the range power unit for the new sports coupé is the company’s traditional 3.2 V6 24 valve unit, the same adopted on GTV, Spider and New Alfa 166 models.

The powerful 3.2litre power unit, derived from the classic V6 24 valve 3.0 litre, is a strong engine in the best six cylinder tradition. The engineers changed the crankshaft and pistons to increase the cylinder capacity to 3.2 litres and lengthened the stroke to 78 millimetres. The fact that cylinder capacity has been increased by lengthening the stroke means that the aim was not simply to obtain out-and-out performance coupled with high power and torque peaks, but also even, gradual power delivery from the lowest speeds.

The Alfa GT is available in three specifications in major European markets: Progression, Distinctive and Luxury. The first is reserved for 2.0 JTS and 1.9 M-Jet 16v versions; the second and third are both equipped with all the power units in the range, including the 2.0 JTS Selespeed. Next year, the product range will be further extended by a specification known as Impression, combined with a 1.8 Twin Spark 16v, a 2.0 JTS and a 1.9 M-Jet 16v power unit. The new sports coupé can also be ordered in no fewer than 12 body colours.

Sporty interior

The interior of the Alfa GT is as sporty as Alfa Romeos can be. The steering wheel, pedals and gearbox, for example, are designed to be comfortable for the most discerning of sporting drivers. Red lighting is used for the instruments, which are functional and clear to read even at night because this form of lighting makes it easier for the eyes to re-focus as they adjust from the dark road to the bright dashboard. A multifunction display gives access to several menus and is used to govern a variety of tasks in the car as well as control the trip computer.

The centre of the Alfa GT facia also houses a built-in radio and all the controls for the automatic dual zone climate control system. The radio, complemented by a CD player (or an MP3 player as an option), was designed and built specifically for the car’s passenger compartment. It consists of eight speakers and delivers a power output of 4x40 Watts.

The Alfa GT adds a host of sophisticated devices and systems to its specification that the company claims make it a benchmark in its segment. Examples include: VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control, a traction control and emergency brake assist programme which is standard across the range), Xenon headlights and up to six airbags, CONNECT Nav+ with radio and phone controls on the steering wheel, Bose® Hi-Fi system and CD-changer and Cruise Control – another standard fitment.

All these creature comforts are complemented by opulent interiors. The new sports coupé offers two types; a classic sports specification with black facia and panels, and another brighter and more stylish design that features a two-tone black on grey colour scheme. The top-quality, good-looking seats are specific to each version, and the trim blends in well with the grosgrain surfaces typical to Alfa Romeo. On mid-range versions the company has introduced Alfatex®, a product patented by Alfa Romeo. Available in grey and black, this new hi-tech cloth is used on the seats and door panels.

Naturally customers can also choose leather trim (available in black, blue, red, tan and grey) or one of three interiors hand-upholstered to standards of classic Italian craftsmanship (sports, elegant and classic) that feature sophisticated contrast stitching. One factor shared by all three interiors is top quality, fine-grained Prestige leather with a natural look and beautifully soft to the touch. The new model also features a gear knob in aluminium on petrol versions - but leather-trimmed on the diesels and the powerful 3.2 V6 24v.

A whole host of versions are available to make each car ‘your very own Alfa GT’. All appear to offer value for money and the company firmly believes the new model is heir to a motoring tradition that Alfa Romeo helped create – that of the stylish sports coupé.

Photos: Alfa Romeo / Words: Classic Driver

The facts

Engine: 60° V6
Bore/stroke 93 x 78 mm
Double overhead cam, variable valve timing
Total displacement 3179 cc
Compression ratio 10.0:1
Power: 240 bhp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 221 lb/ft @ 4800 rpm
Transmission: Six speed gearbox, front wheel drive
Suspension: Front:independent, dual wishbones with double trailing arm and anti-roll bar mounted on ball joints
Rear: independent, MacPherson struts with transverse levers of different lengths anchored to an aluminium cross beam, reaction arms, offset coil springs, and anti-roll bar mounted on ball joints and linked to the shock absorber
Brakes: All round discs with VDC. Ventilated front 330mm disc, 276mm solid rear
Body: Two door coupe, five seats
Tyres: 225/45 ZR17
Dimensions: Wheelbase: 2950 mm
Length:4489 mm
Width: 1763 mm
Height: 1355 mm
Kerb weight:1410 kg
Front track 1534 mm
Rear track 1510 mm
Performance: Top speed 243 kmh/150 mph
Acceleration 0-100 kmh/62 mph 6.7 secs
Price & availablity: To be confirmed.