The Alfa Romeo brand name is one of the most emotive in the automobile world, with a sporting heritage that stretches way, way back. The subject of this test – the 156 GTA manual sedan – captures all the excitement, exhilaration and emotion of the Alfa Romeo spirit, perhaps better than any other Alfa model of recent times.
At the heart of the 156 GTA is an engine that is just sensational. This 3.2 litre quad cam V6 provides levels of throttle response and performance that are extremely satisfying, and on top of that it also sounds great and even looks terrific.
To ensure that the 156 GTA gets its considerable power safely and effectively to the ground, the drivetrain, suspension, steering, wheels and tyres, and braking systems have all been extensively revised and upgraded.
When you combine this highly specified mechanical package with the 156 GTA’s unique styling cues and the abundance of luxury, safety and convenience equipment that’s standard, you end up with a very capable and desirable sports/luxury sedan. Of course, the 156 GTA experience doesn’t come cheaply. It’s priced at $89,950 and if you want metallic paint, that will cost another $890. A power sunroof is optional for $2,000.
As mentioned, equipment levels are substantial. On the safety front there are dual front, front side and window airbags, high performance Brembo brakes with anti-lock and electronic brake assist, traction control, front and rear fog lights, rain sensing wipers and Xenon headlights with washers. Luxury items include climate control air conditioning, a high quality Blaupunkt sound system, electrically adjustable front seats, cruise control, leather trim, an Infocentre readout panel, power operated windows and (heated) exterior mirrors, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, and remote central locking with immobiliser.
Though the 156 GTA does without the overt wings found on many a high performance car (it uses front and rear under-body splitters), there’s no mistaking the GTA’s sporting intent thanks to its low ride height and its large 17 inch wheels shod with ultra low profile tyres. Inside, the theme is continued with high bolster sports front seats, aluminium pedals and use of leather and metallic trim.