Alfa Romeo GT review (2004-2011) – MSN Cars UK

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Alfa Romeo GT

Alfa Romeo GT

review (2004-2011)

Model:Alfa Romeo GT 1.9 JTD

Bodystyle: Three-door coupe

Engine: 1.9-litre turbodiesel

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Date of test: April 2005

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When you are a manufacturer as sporty as Alfa Romeo, having just one coupe is not enough. So, joining the line-up alongside the existing GTV is this, the larger GT. Of course, the GTV hasn’t got too long left but it’s still interesting that Alfa should factor in the model overlap by making them distinct. Could there be a sporty two-seater planned as well, replacing both the GTV and Spider soft-top?

As for the GT, it draws heavily from the 147 and 156 platforms, but with fairly extensive revisions befitting its more modern status – including stiffer anti-roll bars, softer springs and revised damper settings.

Where does it fit?

Alfa sees the Bertone-designed GT as a direct rival to BMW’s 3-Series Coupe, rather than a costlier competitor to less-prestigious rivals such as the Hyundai Coupe and Toyota Celica. Certainly, like the BMW and others, it is a practical thing to use every day, with a full rear hatchback and decent enough space for four. It has the badge too, and the engines, if not the sheer choice offered by the German.

It’s interesting, incidentally, that Alfa chose not to go head-to-head with the best-selling but smaller Audi TT, again hinting at a potential new model line in the future.

Is it for you?

The market for four-seater coupes is not huge but is nevertheless fed by a loyal band of manufacturers. Alfa is elbowing in by offering the most practical offering of the lot, complete with something very few can offer – a diesel engine option. For looking good without costing the earth, literally and figuratively, it’s a compelling option, even if the Alfa faithful will be spluttering into the engine bays of their twin cam Giulietta Berlinas.

What does it do well?

Alfa Romeo GT

It really does look good – low, lithe and very distinctive. The interior is distinctive too, despite being taken wholesale from the 147 hatchback, and has an almost Germanic integrity that is carried through when you drive it. The structure feels very stiff, meaning it has a feeling of deep-down integrity.

The suspension is firm but the ride not crashy and bumps are dealt with efficiently without sending shockwave shudders to the cabin. It corners with stability, agility and plenty of grip, without suffering from the interference of torque steer through the very fast steering. And, with 225lb/ft, there’s certainly a lot of torque, which, with the sharp throttle, makes this a very eager car indeed.

The 150bhp 1.9-litre diesel is no deficit as it’s a superb engine, keen to rev and very refined, while the six-speed gearbox keeps things on the boil. Like the GT itself, it’s very sophisticated.

What doesn’t it do well?

As mentioned, the ride will feel firm in town, but do not worry because it’s not uncomfortable. More disconcerting is the sharp, darty steering that’s over-assisted and light. It is no BMW.

The brakes are spongy and long in travel, as is the gearshift, while the pedals are posit ioned a little awkwardly. The high sides and letterbox-like rear window limit visibility somewhat, despite seats that are set a bit high. And for Alfa traditionalists, the GT’s smooth manners and cultured controls may be just too sophisticated to instil real excitement.

What’s it like to live with?

This is a very practical coupe indeed. The rear hatchback reveals a 320-litre boot, expanded to 905 litres when the 60/40-split rear seat is folded. The cabin has a high-shouldered, cocooned feel that makes it feel more cramped than it is, but there’s room enough for four and those in the front enjoy fantastic bucket-style seats which are a firm, race-style treat – the suede-style Alfatex upholstery is gorgeous, too.

The engine returns reasonable economy figures of 42mpg, though we’d expect more from a diesel. But you won’t be spending dearly on options, as nearly everything you would want is standard, including climate control, VDC stability control, cruise control, 16-inch alloys and a CD player. Build quality is very impressive, with some beautifully finished details inside.

There’s long been a proven question mark over standards of assembly, and reliability, with Alfas, but we’re told progress has been made and the evidence here suggests that’s the case. Oddly though, we must criticise the blue main beam warning light; it is eye-piercingly bright at night.

Would we buy it?

The GT surprised us, as it’s probably the most complete and desirable Alfa currently on sale. It is a sophisticated drive that feels accurate and satisfying to drive – and the turbodiesel engine really suits it well, perhaps more so than the four-cylinder petrol alternatives. An Alfa twin cam with a difference, which really works well.

Practicality is good, equipment levels are generous and the only real question mark remains over reliability. Alfa assures us it is on the case, and to be honest we’d be prepared to try their word, given the all-round appeal of the affordable, sexy, sprightly GT.

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