My first drive in the Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA and GTAm
And I did more than that!
A couple of weeks ago, Alfa Romeo Switzerland offered me the very special opportunity to drive the Giulia GTA and GTAm on track, and even though it was brief, I was quite impressed. However, we did not drive the cars straight away, and Alfa Romeo Switzerland first wanted to show us a very special place. There I was in Hinwil, near Zurich, the hometown of Sauber, the legendary F1 team that was recently renamed Alfa Romeo Racing. The race cars still get developed there and we were invited for an exclusive visit of the very high tech and secretive premises, a dream come true for me. We were even allowed to check out their wind tunnel (one of the best in Europe), however I cannot show you anything as photos were obviously not allowed. By the way, I learned that a small team at Sauber helped develop some of the aerodynamics on the GTA and GTAm, another proof that this car means serious business. After spending about 1h30 at Sauber, we left to a near test track to finally meet these exceptional Giulias.
Five or six cars were waiting there for us. At first glance, I can say that they look phenomenal, and have so much presence. A regular Giulia Q will look slightly boring next to those. These cars are wide, extreme in their conception, and they basically look like race cars for the road. There is carbon fibre everywhere, and so many details that you need a lot of time to analyse all the stuff that goes on with this Giulia on steroids. All three colours were available, Trofeo White, GTA Red, and Montreal Green. That green really striked me and that was the car I wanted to drive. After a brief presentation by our driving instructor, it was already time to get behind the wheel and discover what these cars are all about. The point was to switch every now and then between the GTA and GTAm, in order to compare. I started with the Montreal Green GTAm.
First thing you need to know about the GTAm is that it's an even more track-focused GTA. There is more aero (look at that carbon fibre rear wing!), a roll cage, no back seats, racing harnesses, Lexan windows, and yes it's street legal. You jump in and apart from the bucket seats and the Alcantara that is basically everywhere, you'd feel right at home if you are used to the regular Giulia. However, that feeling rapidly escapes by the time you press on the red start button on the steering wheel. Both equipped with an Akrapovic exhaust system, the GTA and GTAm just screams and you soon realize that you're definitely not in your regular Giulia.
First exercise was a tricky one. Basically, you had to drive around a huge damp circle, drift the car round it and control it for as long as possible. Something I had never done but the exercise was here to highlight the balance of the car on tricky surfaces. Yes, I spun many times because I'm not called Kimi Räikkönen, but it was extremely fun. After a couple of attempts you start to get a hang of it and I finally managed to find the right balance between throttle pressure and steering angle. I'm still not a drift king, but it showed me that the Giulia GTA and GTAm are beautifully balanced cars. We then turned to another exercise that included some slaloming, accelerations, and hard braking. This very complete stage highlighted the agility, the grip, the effectiveness of the carbon-ceramic brakes, and the raw power of the engine. But there is one element that staggered me the most on the Giulia GTA and GTAm, and that was the steering precision. Something you can easily realize while slaloming for example. It's so precise, sharp and light but you still get so much feedback from it. Alfa Romeo simply nailed every aspect of this car. With 100 kg less and 30 extra horsepower than the already supreme Quadrifoglio, you end up with a car that can give you this glimpse of how a proper racing car feels like to drive. I was expecting the Giulia GTA and GTAm to be like the M4 CS, but its was actually closer to a 911 GT3.
Yes, I was impressed by the rawness and capabilities on track of the Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA and GTAm. It is an extremely fun car to drive, but all the activities we did on that day don't really reflect the stuff you will be doing with this car on a daily basis. Nothing beats a good old test drive on the open road, and Alfa Romeo Switzerland hope they will be able to provide us with a press car for a couple of days later this year. Yes, because this is a very exclusive car and only 500 units will ever be built at a starting price of CHF 190'000.- (£150K). Fingers crossed people!