NEW MODEL: Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA is coming, but will you pay “Ferrari” money?
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JOHANNESBURG - Alfa Romeo South Africa (now part of Stellantis) has issued a word of advice for performance car enthusiasts: “Get your cheque books out!” The limited production Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA and GTAm is headed to South African shores.
Only 500 numbered cars are being built by Alfa Romeo for the world and the local branch says South Africa’s proud Alfa Romeo legacy and competition association with the nameplate has secured a very limited allocation of just eight units for Mzansi. The order book is officially open and Alfa says owners will not only acquire a legendary performance car, but an equally tasty experience and package of accessories with it.
WHY THE LETTERS: GTA
The acronym GTA stands for “Gran Turismo Alleggerita” (alleggerita being the Italian term for “lightened”), and it originated in 1965 with the Giulia Sprint GTA, a very special model based on the Giulia Sprint GT, designed as a sports car and presented at the Amsterdam Motor Show staged that same year.
The body of the Giulia Sprint GT was replaced with an identical version in aluminium, for a total weight of 745kg compared to the 950kg of the road version. A second, but significant variation concerned the 1570cc twin cam engine which, in standard road configuration, with dual ignition, reached an impressive output of 86kW. The technicians at Autodelta, the official Alfa Romeo racing team, chose it as the reference vehicle for the Touring category and developed it to achieve a maximum output of 127kW.
The model’s competition success was immediate: three consecutive European Touring Car Championships, numerous national championships and hundreds of individual race wins in every part of the world. Alfa Romeo says the car ramped up the image of its entire range: “Giulia Sprint GTA expressed the claim “A victory a day in your everyday car” to perfection. From then on, the GTA name became naturally associated with Alfa Romeo’s sportiest models.”
NOT YOUR GRANDPA’S GTA
For the new Giulia GTA, Alfa Romeo’s engineers have improved aerodynamics and handling, but, above all, they’ve reduced weight: the same guidelines followed for the 1965 Giulia GTA. The car’s active aerodynamics were specifically studied to increase the downforce. These solutions contain technical know-how that comes directly from Formula 1, thanks to the synergy with Sauber Engineering and the use of the Sauber Aerokit. The same task is assigned to the side skirts, the specific rear spoiler and the active front splitter.
The titanium Akrapovič central exhaust system integrated in the carbon fibre rear diffuser is also new, as are the 20-inch centre lock wheels, appearing for the first time on a sedan. The Giulia’s handling at high speeds has been improved by widening the front and rear wheel tracks by 50mm and developing a new set of springs, shock absorbers and bushings for the suspension systems.
On GTAm, the aerodynamic front piece has been optimised to an extreme level, by adding a larger front splitter and a real carbon rear wing, which ensure a perfectly balanced load at high speeds.
In terms of performance, the car’s powerful 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo, made entirely of aluminium and capable of unleashing no less than 375kW in standard trim, reaches a power output of 390kW on Giulia GTA thanks to meticulous calibration work performed by Alfa Romeo engineers. The same team has also succeeded in optimising the implementation of the new Akrapovič specific exhaust system, with its unmistakable sound.
Moving inside the car, several new details stand out: the trim in 100 percent Alcantara on the dashboard, door panels, glove compartment, side pillars and the central trim on the seats. Alcantara is used even more extensively on the GTAm version, where the rear bench has been removed, leaving room for a fully upholstered “basin”, hosting specific mouldings deigned to hold helmets and a fire extinguisher. The new matte carbon inserts endow the interior with a distinctive technical and aesthetic elegance. In the new GTAm, the interior is unique in that it features a roll bar, no door panels or rear seats and the door is opened with a belt in place of the handle, another touch that comes from the racing world.
AS LIGHT AND AS POWERFUL AS A SUPERCAR
Power on its own is not enough to ensure extraordinary performance in the new GTA and GTAm. The work done to reduce vehicle weight has been meticulous, and it has reaped particularly impressive results, according to Alfa Romeo. The total weight reduction amounts to 100kg, thanks to the adoption of lightweight materials such as carbon fibre for the drive shaft, hood, roof, front bumper, front wheel arches, rear wheel arch inserts and the shell of the specific sporting seats with 6-point Sabelt safety belts.
Further, lightweight aluminium is used in the engine, doors and suspension systems, and various other composite materials are used throughout. For instance, Lexan – a unique polycarbonate resin that comes straight from the world of motorsports – has been used in the side and rear window frames, further contributing to the weight reduction.
The result is a weight set around 1580 kg which, combined with the increase in power to 390kW brings the power/weight ratio to an excellent 246kW/ton or 4.1kg/kW, making Giulia GTA capable of delivering supercar performance. Its acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h stops the chronometer at just 3.6 seconds thanks to a bespoke Launch Control system.
MORE THAN JUST A LIMITED EDITION
If you want one, expect a one-to-one sales process, with an Alfa Brand ambassador product specialist following each customer journey from order to delivery. The buying experience doesn’t stop at the dedicated sales process either. Owners will also receive a personalised experience package kit, which includes a Bell helmet in special GTA livery, a full racing set by Alpinestars (race suit, gloves and shoes) and a personalised Goodwool car cover for protecting the car.
DEEP GTA ROOTS IN SOUTH AFRICA
Alfa Romeo’s legendary racing heritage in South Africa is well-known. It was largely spearheaded by the original GTA, the first car imported by the Thompson Brothers in 1965 to be driven by Keith Berrington-Smith.
The right-hand drive 1600 GTA (one of 50 of the first 500 cars) was successfully campaigned and quickly developed. It was soon taken over by Basil van Rooyen’s Superformance and developed further into one of the most iconic touring cars of South Africa’s motorsport of the late 1960s. Carrying racing number Y152 (usually) and driven by Arnold Chatz it was one protagonist of the classic Alfa versus Ford battle with Peter Gough’s Meisner Escort, Y151.
Further modified, including 2.0-litre GTAm engine and wide body, it was ultimately left in Angola after its last competitive race.
A further 1300 GTA was imported in 1968 by Alderton Motors, then Johannesburg Alfa Romeo agent and campaigned in the ’68 and ’69 Springbok Series and some production car races shared with other legendary drivers, including Paddy Driver and John Conchie.
Lesser known in GTA circles was a South African developed and marketed model of the Alfasud. The 1983 Alfasud Export GTA featured Alfa’s 1.5-litre flat four engine with 77kW in the five-door hatch.
The GTA nameplate would return again to South Africa in the early 2000s when a 156 was locally developed for Production Car racing. It was joined by a full factory onslaught of three genuine Autodelta/N-Technology prepared 147GTA Production Cars, giving BMW a serious run for their money, variously in the hands of Martin Steyn, Reghardt Roets, Morne Jurgens, Marco da Cunha, and Marc Auby.
Alfa Romeo offered the 156 GTA and 147 GTA on showroom floors, both powered by a 184kW 3.2-litre V6 engine with six-speed manual gearboxes.
Alfa Romeo didn’t send any official pricing of the new Giulia GTA and Giulia GTAm with its media info pack, but our internal sources at the company suggest that the vehicle will go on sale in SA for around R4 million in base GTA trim when it arrives later this year.