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First drive: Alfa’s more affordable new GT

Sleek: new 156-based Alfa GT coupe packs GTA performance.

New Alfa GT coupe replaces 156 GTA at a sensible price

Alfa Romeo logo30 Jun 2004

ALFA ROMEO’S chunky new 156-based GT coupe should attract plenty of interest from Alfisti on July 1, when it goes on sale priced almost $10,000 less than the flagship 156 GTA sedan it effectively replaces.

That’s right, while the range-topping, torque-steering, circa-$90,000 156 GTA has been banished from the 156 line-up, the new coupe simply known as GT joins the Alfa Romeo range at a competitive $79,990.

Featuring the same 176kW/300Nm 3.2-litre V6 that powers the GTV V6 ($73,500) and Spider V6 ($75,500), GT lacks the full 184kW power output (but not the 300Nm torque peak) of both the 156 GTA it replaces and the $59,990 147 GTA.

Known as GT 3.2 V6 in Europe - where 105kW 1.8-litre Twin Spark petrol, 1.9-litre turbo-diesel and 123kW 2.0 JTS versions are also sold, along with automatic and Selespeed sequential manual transmission options – the sole GT variant available here will, for now, only be available with a six-speed manual transmission.

Based on the current 156 medium car platform and lacking the all-wheel drive ability of next-generation Alfas - starting with the 156 Crosswagon late this year – the single-model, front-drive GT will have no shortage of luxury performance coupes to compete with.

Everything from Japanese sports stars like Nissan 350Z ($60,000-$66,000) and Mazda RX-8 (under $57,000) to the Mercedes-Benz CLK (240 from $92,600) and even Holden Monaro ($59,950) and HSV Coupe GTO ($76,300) will be a rival.

But luxury coupes that GT will have to compete most fiercely with will no doubt be BMW’s 3 Series (extending from the sub-$70,000 320Ci to the near-$100,000 330Ci), Chrysler’s Crossfire ($69,990), Audi TT’s ($75,000-$85,000) and even Peugeot’s ageing 406 Coupe which straddles the $70,000 mark. And then there’s the Renault Megane coupe-convertible to come.

Longer than the 156 sedan and therefore featuring a sizeable (for the class) 230-litre boot, the Bertone-designed GT’s styling is reminiscent of legendary past Alfas like Giulia, Guilietta and Alfetta.

26 center imageLower-roofed than the 156 sedan with which it shares its 2596mm wheelbase, the all-new coupe presents ultra-short,l 147-style overhangs at both ends and reintroduces Alfa’s heart shaped Alfa grille, while the rear-end is perhaps the greatest departure from current designs with its complex tail-light clusters.

A five-seater measuring 4489mm long, 1763mm wide and 1355mm high, with front/rear wheel tracks of 1524 and 1510mm respectively, GT weighs in at a solid 1410kg kerb and employs a 63-litre fuel tank.

But its familiar 60-degree 24-valve DOHC V6 grabs as much attention, offering 176kW at 6200rpm and 300Nm of torque at 4800rpm. The short-stroke, Euro4 emissions compliant engine runs 10.0:1 compression and shortish final drive ratio of 3.733:1.

The result is 0-100km/h performance in a respectable 6.7 seconds, a top speed of 243km/h and combined-cycle EC fuel consumption of 12.4 litres per 100km.

GT features power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering with an average 12.1-metres turning circle, double wishbone front and MacPherson strut rear suspension and 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/45-section tyres.

Only two non-metallic colours will be available (red and black), while solid colours will include black, red, four blues and four greys. Standard leather trim colour choices include black, grey, red and beige.

GT offers a sizeable safety kit including ABS with EBD, VDC stability control, twin front airbags, twin front side airbags, side windowbags, five three-point seatbelts and head restraints, and front seatbelt height adjusters.

Among GT’s extensive standard equipment list is a front armrest with storage, rear armrest, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, cruise control, trip computer, Xenon headlights, headlight washers, power windows/(heated) mirrors, eight-speaker Bose AM/FM/MP3/10-CD audio system, remote central locking, rain sensing wipers, leather trim, leather steering wheel with audio controls, heated front seats, rear parking sensors, 60/40-split rear seat with ski-port, and a tyre inflation kit.

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