Alfa Romeo GT coupe (2004 – 2010) review
Read the Alfa Romeo GT coupe (2004 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
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Alfa Romeo claims the GT looks a million dollars, but costs considerably less. We wouldn’t go that far, but the GT’s rarity does mean that familiarity isn’t something from which it suffers. Many people won’t ever have seen one. It’s a shame the GT isn’t more widely-known and appreciated, because it’s so much more interesting to look at than predictable rivals like the BMW 3 Series and Peugeot 407 coupe. From the prominent triangular grille and heavily sculpted bonnet to the delicate rear lights, the GT’s detailing looks superb, with things helped by the high waistline and low roof line. The result is a coupe with just the right amount of aggression.
Alfa Romeo has come up trumps again with the GT’s cabin, as it looks and feels a cut above more mainstream rivals. The sculpted seats offer plenty of support and it’s not hard to find a comfortable driving position, thanks to well-spaced pedals and adjustment for reach as well as rake. Typical for the marque, the instruments are set into a cowled binnacle, with everything easy to read and looking high-quality, so it’s a shame that the switchgear doesn’t feel as robust as it should.
For a coupe, the Alfa Romeo GT is surprisingly practical when it comes to cabin space. Not only is there ample room in the front, but the rear seats aren’t especially tight for space, although things do feel rather claustrophobic thanks to the thick rear pillars. So for carrying people, the GT is pretty good – as long as those people aren’t all especially tall or well-built. Things aren’t quite so good when it comes to carrying luggage, because the GT’s boot can stow just 320 litres, or 905 litres with the rear seats folded. Seats up, the Audi A5 and BMW 3 Series coupe have the GT licked, with 455 and 440 litres respectively. However, the BMW’s seats don’t fold but the Audi’s do, and when they’re down, boot capacity rises to just 829 litres.
Ride and handling
The GT is based on the Alfa Romeo 156, a car which arrived in 1998, and which was replaced by the 159 in 2006. With such an old platform, it can be no surprise that the GT is outclassed dynamically by most rivals such as the BMW 3 Series coupe and Audi A5. However, these German rivals are significantly more expensive than the Alfa. Where the Alfa scores more highly is with its ride. While the 18-inch alloys don’t help comfort levels, the suspension isn’t set to be especially firm. The result is a car that rides well, which is some compensation for the so-so handling.
With only one engine available in the GT, there’s no choice in terms of levels of performance. Your only option is the 1.9-litre JTDm, a 168bhp diesel that gives 134mph and 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds. Smooth, muscular and refined, this 1.9-litre diesel is all you need, as it provides plenty of overtaking power. The 225lb/ft of pulling power is provided in a reasonably linear fashion and with decent refinement, although once again it’s not up to the levels of its more costly German rivals.
The reason why Alfa Romeo offers only the 1.9-litre JTDm engine in the GT is because it’s reasonably clean and economical. However, there’s no stop and start technology and the car is showing its age by having CO2 emissions of 165g/km while being capable of averaging just 45.6 mpg. Newer rivals can beat this soundly. The Audi A5 2.0TDi for example can manage 55.4mpg with CO2 emissions of just 134g/km, while the BMW 320d coupe is even more impressive. Not only does this cut emissions to just 125g/km, but fuel consumption is pegged at 60.1mpg.
As Alfa Romeo attempts to snap at the heels of premium German brands, it’s got its work cut out trying to shake off an image for poor build quality and unreliability. So far, the GT has acquitted itself reasonably well, although suspension bushes, brake discs and clutches can wear disappointingly quickly. Most problems however, stem from the 1.9-litre diesel engine, which can suffer from failed turbos and oil pumps. The water pump can also seize, leading to the timing belt being thrown off and the engine being destroyed. As a result, staying on top of servicing is essential.
The GT has never been crash tested by EuroNCAP and neither was the 156, as it arrived too long ago. However, there’s no reason to think that the GT’s structure isn’t stiff enough to stand up pretty well in an impact. To help prevent an accident, the GT comes with anti-lock brakes and electronic brake force distribution, plus traction control and electronic stability programme. There’s no shortage of airbags either, with driver, passenger, front, side and window bags as standard.
The GT is sold with just the one standard trim level which comes with dual-zone climate control, remote central locking, powered windows and a CD/tuner as standard. Also included are cruise control, a trip computer and a multi-function steering wheel. Bizarrely, even though there’s just one trim level offered, that sole model is billed as a Special Edition that includes a raft of extra kit such as xenon lights, leather trim, 18-inch alloy wheels and a 10-speaker Bose sound system. Also included are rear parking sensors and various sporty details that lift the car’s appearance. All this adds up to a package that represents excellent value.
The value, rarity and looks are the most enticing aspects of the Alfa Romeo GT. It’s left behind by newer rivals, but they cost a lot more.