Exclusive first drive: Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm, a soul and a heart

Exclusive first drive: Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm, a soul and a heart

Alfa Romeo. A mythical surname that unfortunately is not pronounced often enough. And yet, there is nothing more endearing than this transalpine clover, a touching Italian brand, oh so legendary, which, despite the economic vicissitudes, has been able to resist. Today, thanks to its entry into the Stellantis group, the manufacturer will undoubtedly do everything to endure and develop. Give yourself the means for a new start. We are looking forward to it. Throughout its history, Alfa has earned the trust of purists through a form of exuberance and performance all its own. Purists who have become “Alfists”. And when the new Patron of the Four-Leaf Clover, Jean Philippe Imparato, ex-Peugeot, directly asked us to try the one we are waiting for with the greatest impatience, Giulia GTA (and GTAm), we said to ourselves, eyes closed, that we had to get to Balocco as quickly as possible. The historic center for the development of Alfa models. And the first shuttlecocks have kept all their promises! Exclusive trial.

Exclusive first drive: Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm, a soul and a heart

Balocco, a small Italian town of less than 1,000 inhabitants, located in the north west of Italy, in the Piedmont region. A village that could have been quiet, and without history, but which adjoins a particularly dynamic and very secret area of ​​more than 6 km 2 . It contains no less than 27 test and development circuits , historically linked to the Alfa Romeo brand.

80 km of curves and straight lines between asphalt and earth, which today allow the brands of the group to meet the slightest requirements in terms of the development of prototypes, competition models or future production cars .

It is in this well-known and recognized place, created in 1961, that we have an appointment to discover a newcomer to Alfa, the very spectacular and exclusive Giulia GTA (and GTAm) , in its very last phase of development. Needless to say, we are truly privileged.

Exclusive first drive: Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm, a soul and a heart

The sedan, particularly muscular , is still partly camouflaged. The first tests will take place in May. At first glance, you can better understand the strength of this car. But you shouldn’t look into the details too much, the car still seems to want to hide some generous attributes, which we can guess, nevertheless, quite easily.

GTA, for “Gran Turismo Alleggerita” , understand, Grand Touring Lighter . Three letters that already resonated in the past, in 1965, born for the first time with the first Sprint GTA, whose pencil stroke, signed Bertone , already gave pride of place to performance. A small, light and dynamic bomblet.

She also knew how to find the paths of competition. Its period slogan made no doubt about its demands: “one victory a day, with the everyday car” . Aluminum replaced steel, and at Alfa, we even preferred plexiglass to the usual windows. As a result, the period bombinette ended up with 745 kg, instead of 900 kg , for a power of 115 hp and sovereign acceleration for the time which peaked at 185 km / h at top speed . Not bad !

Crazy technical sheet. F1 tuning

The new Giulia GTA is, in fact, celebrating an anniversary. That of the 110 years of Alfa Romeo . A nice gift for the brand, but also for the Alfistes, eager to discover this particularly swift and impressive family sports car.

To do this, the Italians took their time. The time needed for the best power-to-weight ratio in the class . No question of returning a crossed out copy. The set must be perfect, and the engineers have been working on it for at least two years. The car was not only imagined at Alfa, the Swiss Sauber Engineering, which operates the Formula 1 Raïkkonen and Giovinazzi, on behalf of Alfa Romeo, participated in its development .

A high-quality firm, located near Zurich, which is today a benchmark in the world of F1, the highest level of motor racing. Certain technical and mechanical parts have been developed by Swiss engineering.

But most of the work consisted in making the engine, the 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6, more reliable to make it even more powerful and more efficient than that of the Giulia Quadrifoglio , from which it came. Of the 510 horsepower, the engine manufacturers managed to give it 30 more horsepower, or 540 hp in total , thanks to specific settings on the turbos, the modification of the electronic engine mapping and certain aluminum master parts.

But where the technical sheet is miraculous, it is the regime that the GTA was faced with. A slimming diet! His athletic weight rose to 1,520 kg. That is 100 kg less than the Quadrifoglio! A feat.

Especially when you immediately refer to the competition, like the all-new BMW M3 which today plays with 510 horsepower for a less Olympic form of 1,730 kg. 210 kg difference with 30 more horses , the GTA is already exciting! The result, at least, on paper is obvious: The Alfa Romeo accelerates like a ball! 3.6 s to reach 100 km / h (3.9 s for the M3, 250 km / h, with flange) to peak at top speed at 307 km / h ! A supercar? Not far away.

Weight and aero, two vectors of focus

We will not make a very big difference between the GTA and the GTAm (m for ” modificata “), both make a strong impression. You just have to understand that the GTAm makes the copy even more bestial, with its super-touring look : addition of an imposing rear diffuser, removal of the rear seats, strip of fabric instead of the door cuffs, competition cage arch, harness , Lexan, a plexiglass on the rear window …

The GTAm also has a mechanically removable 4mm front blade, for more downforce on the track . For a bit, we believe it! It’s sort of the spirit of the old BMW M4 GTS.

But overall, the Giulia GTA and GTAm, received the same aerodynamic appendages, the same technicality. The wagon widened its tracks by 25mm at the front and 50mm at the rear , making the lateral shoulder of the fenders more prominent. Carbon is also invited on the fenders, roof, hood, shields or the transmission shaft.

The wheels, with central nut, are 20 inches and use Michelin semi-slick tires . 390 mm diameter ceramic-carbon brakes at the front, 6 piston calipers. Her “killer” gaze lets more air through with her gaping mouth , a redesigned shield, very sharp, and optimal air intakes. Finally, it has a specific central exhaust signed, Akrapovic.

High-performance test

Before setting off on the Alfa track, the engineers warned me: “its speed is, on average, on this circuit, 20% higher than that of a Quadrifoglio” . The info is given! Ideal driving position, harness attached, helmet and gloves mandatory, start the V6. The exhaust sets the tone!

Serious score on the menu. Engaging the automatic gearbox on gear 1 of 8 possible, and off you go! The car has specific and variable damping , with a first “Normal” level, a second “Dynamic”, like “sport”, to end in a “Track” mode, circuit use, in short.

No compromise, we start directly with the most ultimate mode, the electronic driving aids crutches disappear to give its behavior a lot of permissiveness. We can’t escape it! The propulsion engages without weakness, the rear tain plays but the mastery is done quite easily . The drift is contained if you don’t let go of the horses too quickly. The revs are faster than expected to reach 7,500 rpm in a flash , an extension that could be even better, in my opinion, but which already allows lightning accelerations. It does not drag!

You can feel all the power of the V6 and its 540 hp! It even boils. What character, what explosiveness! The most amazing? Its lightness, its agility . The mastery of running gear does a lot. We drive with precision and almost, simplicity. Alfa left no compromise on the pedigree, but made its driving docile . We are also reassured by the braking, despite a car, in the final phase of development, which, we feel, has already been subjected to many constraints!

The ground connection plays a capital role, too, Michelin has done very well. Little or no body roll, precise steering, the gearbox engages quickly , the Alfa offers you what you ask for, without excess. It’s hot, but measured, everything you would expect from a sporty and complex car, made for enthusiasts. An Italian-style wonder!

In the meantime, road tests, and above all, the discovery in flesh and blood of a Giulia in its most beautiful case, we are already panicking at the idea that there will be only 500 examples built , to like its elder. A very small series that will make a lot of envy. But at 176,400 euros , the selection will undoubtedly be more natural. Rarity also making its exclusivity and a little more, its legend.

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