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2004 Alfa Romeo GT review. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.

2004 Alfa Romeo GT review
Another week, another coupe. It seems that we've driven as many coupes as any other niche recently, not that I'm complaining, and the 20k mark now sees a wealth of options for any prospective buyer. Alfa Romeo has a tradition of making stylish, desirable coupes.

 



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Another week, another coupe. It seems that we've driven as many coupes as any other niche recently, not that I'm complaining, and the 20k mark now sees a wealth of options for any prospective buyer. Alfa Romeo has a tradition of making stylish, desirable coupes with the outgoing GTV a great success and popular amongst style cognoscenti and enthusiasts alike. The GT isn't a direct replacement for the GTV and will be sold alongside it for a while and will be joined later in the year by the new Brera. Three engine options are available in the GT at the time of writing: a 1.9 JTD diesel, a 3.2-litre V6 petrol and the one we drive here, a 2.0-litre JTS petrol.

As should be the case with a coupe the GT is just plain gorgeous. Dominated by the shape of the glasshouse and the high rising waistline, the Bertone styled coupe uses a modern interpretation of the traditional nose architecture familiar on Alfa Romeos for decades. Main features are the prominent flared arches and a rakish profile that, along with giving a nod of respect to the old GTV, brings the Alfa coupe heritage bang up to date. Our test car, resplendent in blood red with optional 17-inch alloys, was a real head-turning crowd pleaser. For some, the looks alone will open the chequebook. In the past some manufacturers would have put their feet up at this point and bodged up a half decent interior and chassis, but the market is more demanding nowadays. Alfa Romeo has acknowledged this and responded to the challenge really well, a fact they refer to in their "Beauty is not enough" motto associated with the GT.

The appearance of the interior is top class with VW-baiting fit and finish, in addition to adding style, elegance and a genuine ambience and sense of occasion to the deal. The layout is derived from the 147, which is no bad thing, but has an air of quality over and above that of its little brother. The Alcantara-type trim (Alfa call it 'Alfatex') is excellent, especially for those who don't like leather, but would like something nicer than plain cloth; the seats themselves are supportive and figure hugging, only a slight lack of thigh support blots their scorecard. The interior is quite spacious, although that high waistline can make the rear feel a little claustrophobic at times. A large usable boot is a considerable and unexpected bonus.

Chassis-wise the 156 donates much of the componentry, but the GT feels a rather different car to the donor. Overall handling is impressive and confidence inspiring and the ride quality isn't as harsh as you'd expect. The front-end bite generated by the generously proportioned Pirelli P-Zeros is deeply impressive, albeit exaggerated by the inherently quick responses of a wheel geared at only 2.2 turns lock to lock. The effect isn't superficial though and the GT is always willing, keen and able to respond to steering input. It resists understeer gamely with a lift of the throttle effectively killing any that does eventually set in, in a fuss free and tidy manner. The GT remains composed on most roads and only when pressing on harder than most prospective owners would does it start to get a little nervous and ragged. It is an enjoyable companion but is definitely more biased towards GT than out and out sportscar. For most the compromise will be just about right.

Not only is the steering quick, but it is also communicative and the main interface itself, namely the wheel, is great to hold and looks good as well. The driving position is good (other than slightly offset pedals), with a wide range of adjustment allowing most people to find a comfortable posture. The only black mark as far as driving goes is the relatively long throw of the gearshift. I did find that this made changing gear more of an occasion, almost a point to savour, as it was an actual act of physically driving the car, but for me it did mar the enjoyment very slightly. The brakes on the other hand stood up to repeated heavy stops well, with a nicely weighted pedal offering plenty of feel.

The direct-injection four offers 165bhp in this incarnation and is very refined, quiet and resistant to untoward vibration. The torque is well spread and offers decent response over a large proportion of the rev range from 2,500rpm up. Ironically it's the smoothness and linearity of the engine that is its downfall. Although well suited to the GT's character it lacks any top end fizz normally associated with Alfa twin cams. I find myself thinking that the almost diesel like engine characteristic would automatically send me towards the JTD powered model, allowing one to reap the benefits of the more torquey and economical unit without a huge drop off in performance or driver enjoyment.

Overall the GT is an impressive coupe, good enough to steal sales from the ubiquitous 3-series and newcomers such as the Mazda RX-8. The only real downside is the restricted visibility, a penalty worth paying in terms of the stunning looks. No modern cars rust like they used to in the '70s, but there could still be a few minor worries about the GT's quality: the bumpers of our test car didn't exactly match the colour of the body, and there appeared to be surface rust on the trim of the exhaust. In the end, the GT is as good to drive as it is to look at and certainly lives up to Alfa's "Beauty is not enough" tag line.

Dave Jenkins - 24 Feb 2005









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2004 Alfa Romeo GT specifications: (2.0 JTS)
Price: 21,495 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 8.7 seconds
Top speed: 134mph
Combined economy: 32.5mpg
Emissions: 207g/km
Kerb weight: 1320kg

Full technical specifications

2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Alfa Romeo.2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Alfa Romeo.2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Alfa Romeo.2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.

2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.



2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2004 Alfa Romeo GT. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 






 

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