The GTV was released to the press in 1995 at the Geneva motor show. From the start it was designed by Pininfarina with a Spider version running in parallel, the car took many cues from the 1991 Alfa Romeo Proteo. The Proteo was a two seater coupe based on the Alfa Romeo 164 floor pan and used a 260 bhp version of Alfa’s stunning V6 24V 3.0 litre engine. The GTV however is based on a very highly modified Fiat Tipo floor pan, in fact the only similar parts left are the floor, front bulkhead and the two chassis rails either side of the engine. The cars lines are very aggressive the crease line from flows down from the rear window down the door and along the edge of the clam shell bonnet, the headlamps now reduced from six on the Proteo to four are mounted under the bonnet and peep out from holes in the bonnets light weight plastic moulding, the rear of the car is quite stubby has a very subtle lip on the rear edge of the boot, just enough to separate the air flow from the car. The whole car sits high at the rear and low and wide at the front adding to the sense of menace.
Any Alfa Romeo sports car needs a heart and the GTV is one the first Alfa Romeo’s to come with the Fiat derived 4 cylinder engine as an option the other being the glorious V6 The car originally came to the UK with two engine variants, the 2.0 Litre twin spark and the 3.0 Litre V6 24 Valve however there are some 2 litre V6 turbo versions over here now and in Europe they did a 1.8 Twin spark version. Later in the production run the 2.0l twin spark engine was changes for the JTS unit and the V6 had a capacity hike to 3.2 Litres. The 2.0 Litre Twin Spark engine produced around 150 bhp and in this guise the car is fast and very nimble, the engine has 4 valves per cylinder, variable inlet camshaft timing and twin balancer shafts. As the engine developed it got a variable length inlet manifold, when the rocker cover changed to plastic and later still it got another two catalysts. This engine loves to be revved and is happiest as it approaches the red line, each gear ratio is then perfectly placed to take you to the cars maximum 134 mph. The two V6 engines the 3,0l and the 3.2 l transform the car from a very nice sports car into a monster, if the Germans had made this car it would have traction control, flashing lights that told you that you were about to die and all manner of fun destroying devices. Needless to say the Italian’s didn’t bother. This car goes like stink. It is not particularly fast off the line as any application of even ½ throttle results in massive wheelspin but from the top of second gear acceleration is relentless. Opening the bonnet on a V6 you are confronted by one of the most beautiful engines in the world, Alfa Romeo’s incredible all alloy V6 24 valve engine it is an absolute work of art both to look at and in engineering terms, it is a 60 degree V6 with wet liners, sodium cooled exhaust valves and twin overhead camshafts per bank, the only other place you find engine’s like this is in Ferrari’s and like Ferrari’s the sound track is awesome you have to wind the window down and knock it down a couple of gears whenever you are in a tunnel just to hear it, you just can’t help yourself.
Suspension is Mac Pherson strut on the front and double wishbone on the rear, this combination does a surprisingly good job of controlling the power especially of the V6. The rear end is so much better than the 155 set up with a lot more feedback and masses more grip, roundabouts are great fun as long as you balance the car on the throttle, vicious prods of the throttle end up with understeer. Roll is well controlled at both ends and the car rarely gets out of shape without driver provocation.
This car is very comparable both in price and performance with the Audi TT, however the Audi TT feels like a tarted up golf and the engines are not even in the same league, it does not have a soul. Along your favourite roads an Alfa Romeo GTV will worm your way into your affections you to will become infected with virus Alfa Romeo and I am afraid there is little chance of a cure.