There’s a massive emotion in passing through the gates of the Balocco Test Track. Sometimes fate aligns all planets and not only we were able to enter such an important place for Automotive History but also to try what could be the last and greatest Alfa Romeo of the modern era.
For every true Alfista out there, Alfa Romeo was declared dead when it was acquired by Fiat in 1986. For others, it was dead when the 75 went out of production in 1993 and for a small part of die-hard fans it was dead when the Busso V6 was replaced by the controversial down-under Holden/GM engine. It’s a fact though that everytime one drives a BMW he/she always thinks about a potential competitor from Alfa Romeo to make a comparison with. Alfa Romeo is still a Manufacturer that is still able to generate heated discussions among petrolheads, as everyone wants to see it perform as it once did. Sure, the future lies on the greatness of the past, but time goes by and no one cannot live only with memories.
Indeed, Alfa Romeo has one of the most glorious heritage ever and the new saloon, the Giulia is a clear hint to the most successful car they produced back in the 60ies and 70ies, perhaps the car that gave Alfa Romeo its strongest image in the post-war years. So, it makes a lot of sense that the flagship saloon is called like its great ancestor. Introduced in 2015, the Quadrifoglio became the object of desire of many and the true spearhead of Alfa Romeo.
When last year the GTA and GTAm special-editions were unveiled, it seemed that our prayers were listened to and put into hours of tests. Not a purely estethical edition like the Nurburgring or the Alfa Romeo Racing, but a real track-day special with some serious development under its skin. The package on paper is promising, starting with the aerodynamics developed by Sauber, 50mm wider tracks at the front and the rear and dedicated shock absorbers and springs. The 2.9 litre bi-turbo V6 has been tuned to produce 540 hp, which are felt strongly at high rpm’s.
The car is also 100 kg lighter than the standard Quadrifoglio: extensive use of carbon fibe in the hood, roof, front bumper, front wheel arches, rear wheel arch inserts and in the GTAm also in the bucket seats. Lexan also found its way in the side and rear window-frames, which is always a neat feature regarding track-day specials. On paper this looks promising, yet… How is this car going to perform? We were already impressed with the Quadrifoglio and the GTA/GTAm are a serious step forward in terms of excellent dynamics.
With a few laps around the quite long Alfa Track of Balocco, there was plenty of time to savour the GTA’s excellent dynamics. As our test driver that came with us during the test explained to us, the GTA is all about lateral acceleration and benefits from motorsport-derived suspension and geometry set-up. Needless to say, the pleasure in experiencing the powerful braking combined with rapid ingress and egress from the corners is immense. Right from the start, the GTA gives plenty of security to its driver: she forgives every mistake and celebrates every achievement only as an Alfa Romeo can. The steering is perhaps the best we’ve ever tested, with clear feedback, no dead-zones and a never-tiring light and linear feeling. What’s more impressive is how the driver can exploit the wonderful grip it offers thanks to the wider tires and magnificent rear differential. The tires are always in contact with the ground, no matter of how fast you drive on an irregular surface. When you want to get closer to the apex, especially during slow and tight corners, she’s almost magical as it’s already doing what you want and more.
The traction is immense and it can vigorously power you out of the corner even with lots of steering angle and with lots of positive and neutral feeling. Needless to say that after 5000 rpm, the extra power is felt strongly and the GTA charges furiously towards the red-line as a thoroughbred should.
In the end…this is a proper Alfa Romeo and retains all the qualities that made Alfa great in the past. A real winner and a pleasure to drive on track: for sure, those who want something truly exceptional will find a great car for their needs.
Here’s to another 110 years, Alfa Romeo!