We power up in the limited-edition and track-focused Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm
4.5 out of 5
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A crazy car for an insane amount of money, yes, but on the right road the Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm could be the most exciting saloon car we’ve ever driven. And on a track it’s even better still, with huge mechanical and aerodynamic grip, a delicious soundtrack from the V6 engine, a brilliantly involving chassis and heroic brakes. Best of all, it looks a million dollars in the flesh. Which is just as well given how much the Alfa costs.
There will only ever be 500 Alfa GTAs and GTAms, each of which will cost a cool 176,500 and 181,500 Euros respectively, so call it around £155,000 for the latter that we’re driving at today’s exchange rate. But for that you get a sports saloon like no other.
For starters, the GTA looks quite different to the regular Giulia Quadrifoglio on which it is based. There is a new adjustable carbon-fibre wing and splitter front and rear, with extra aerodynamic addenda all the way down the sides and along most of the underside of the vehicle as well.
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The whole car sits lower to the ground and is wider, while it rides on new 20-inch alloy wheels, behind which nestle a quartet of vast carbon-ceramic brake discs. The tyres are track-orientated but still road-usable (in warm weather at least) Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, and these alone mean the GTA is several seconds quicker round a track than the regular Quadrifoglio, claims Alfa Romeo. There are two versions of the car, GTA and GTAm. The 500 examples will look pretty much identical to one another and the split between them will be decided by which proves to be the more popular model. Alfa is staying flexible on that.
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The one you see here is the more track-focused GTAm, which has a full roll cage in place of its back seats and even plastic rear windows to help pare its kerbweight down to a minimum. The GTA, on the other hand, has rear seats and glass all round. The more hardcore GTAm therefore weighs around 1,520kg, according to Alfa, or around 100kg less than the regular Giulia super-saloon.
Thank the extensive use of carbon fibre for all the extra body addenda, plus many other lightweight components, for the overall weight reduction.
Fundamentally, the engine and gearbox are unchanged, with the Ferrari-developed 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 producing 533bhp versus 503bhp in the regular Quadrifoglio thanks to a different map and better oil cooling. Torque remains at 600Nm.
As a result the straight-line performance is increased marginally, with the GTAm taking 3.6 seconds to go from 0-62mph. It feels suitably rapid, while its top speed is entirely dependent on which rear-wing setting you select. But even in its most slippery form it’s no faster than the standard model flat out.
No matter, because the GTAm is all about what happens in the corners and under braking, and the way it makes you feel when you’re ensconced deep within its carbon-fibre bucket seat, six-point harness clamping you in position behind its
similarly styled, leather-lined steering wheel. For although the engine, gearbox and diff are largely unchanged from those of the standard Quadrifoglio, the GTAm feels completely different to drive, be that on road or on track. It drives, indeed, much how it looks, like a cartoon version of the model on which it’s based, with everything turned up to 11.
It’s not the performance you notice first, even though it is keener unquestionably, helped by a raucous, central-exit twin-pipe titanium exhaust, which provides the GTAm with a much more vocal, aggressive personality. Instead, it’s the car’s ride and the extra steering precision that are most obviously improved compared with those of the standard model.
One quick look at the numerous “racing-car-for-the-road” styling modifications and you’d expect there to be no ride quality whatsoever, with a chassis that’s as stiff as a skateboard. But the exact opposite is true, and if anything the GTAm rides bumps on the road and kerbs on a track far more sweetly than the standard car manages to. This translates into a level of grip and composure that is way beyond anything you’d normally experience in a road-legal saloon, and makes the GTAm just a very special car to drive, with an intimacy to its controls that you simply don’t get from other road cars, not even ones that have two seats and costs two or three times as much.
It’s not edgy or in any way twitchy near the limit, either. Instead the GTAm flows quite beautifully across the ground, with delicious steering precision, massive braking power and a level of feedback through its seats and rear axle that is unique for a car with four doors and a decent-sized boot.
The only downside of note was the way the electronically controlled differential worked on our car. On track at the Anglesey circuit in Wales, it overheated several times according to the car’s on-board computer, and even when it was working properly it couldn’t produce anything like the same raw traction as a new BMW M3 Competition. This prevented the limited-edition Alfa from going a fair bit quicker than it did.
Otherwise, the GTAm is an absolute delight of a car. Worth every penny it costs and then some, no doubt, in another 10 years’ time.
|Model:||Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm|
|Price||£155,000 (at current exchange rate)|
|Engine:||2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol|
|Transmission||Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive|
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