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Reader test: Alfa GT

2008-10-08 15:25

Rishon Chimboza

Alfa, GT

When telling friends about my Alfa GT, I find myself resorting to tired clichés and metaphors. Even motoring journos do so. They throw around words like emotion, irrational and soul-stirring with reckless abandon – I used to wonder why, until I bought one.

I was set on buying a "reasonable" pair of wheels which my Toyota-driving dad and car-sensible colleagues would be proud of - something with solid residuals, a good dealer network and legendary reliability. 

That was until I drove past an independent dealership, and there she was on the forecourt seducing me. I made a U-turn into the dealership, booked my test-drive and right there and then, I knew I had to have her.

She was a 1.9-litre diesel, with 85 000km on the clock and a full service history. Some unfortunate chap had taken the hit on depreciation (almost 40% from new) so I got a car with real pedigree for VW Polo money!

No help, please!

I didn’t ask any of my "practical" friends for advice because they would think I was on crack and, being an Alfa, they would have all sorts of stories about a friend who had a cursed 147 Selespeed or an uncle who had a rusty old Alfa Sud that had so much character but gave so many problems. 

I can’t lie and say that I didn’t have an Alfa phobia. I always thought of Alfas as a beautiful girl you’d want to marry. And then, on your honeymoon night, you'd have hot, passionate sex - and contract a VD.  Sies man!

Before buying my Alfa, I trawled the internet looking for reviews, buyer’s guides and dealer networks to avoid buying a money pit.

A week into my purchase, some tokoloshes found their way into my electrical system. This particular gremlin told me that my ABS, TRC and VDC had failed simultaneously – all of this when I was on the R24’s outer lane travelling at bribe-inducing speeds. 

I almost soiled my tobacco-coloured leather when, pondering this development, a random Fiat Uno cut in front of me and forced me to apply emergency brakes! 

Exorcism in progress...

A quick search on the Alfa forums, however, revealed it wasn’t a life threatening problem, but an electrical tokolosh that my friendly Alfa dealer could exorcise with ease. And the seller footed the bill.

Fair enough, I haven't had my car for too long, but I have covered enough mileage in it to know what I love and hate about it. 

The 1.9-litre unit is a solid performer best suited for cruising. Granted, it doesn’t iron pleats into the road as a 330d or V10 Toureg diesel would, but it gets the job done. 

I do enjoy surfing the creamy wave of torque which comes on tap at about 2 000 r/min. Flexing my right ankle in the appropriate gear sees it flattening any hill with little fuss.

I don’t like the turbo lag which makes the car behave as if it has a rocker switch for an accelerator. 

The 16-inch wheels have that poverty-spec look; the one which screams “I just managed to afford this model.” The car’s ride is pretty bad with them, so I guess bigger (and more stylish) wheels are out of the question… 

Bose-bolstered soundtrack

The seats are really comfortable and supportive, plus the excellent Bose stereo is always game for providing the journey’s soundtrack.

The centre arm rest gets in the way when engaging and disengaging the handbrake, plus there is nothing to protect the front spoiler that seems to have a thing for kissing humps and small inclines. I read somewhere that Alfas have a propensity to shake off all the plastic parts they don’t regularly use, but I’m yet to experience this. 

There is very little to compete with this car’s universally appealing looks. I guess the fact that people treat Alfas as a guilty pleasure means that they will continue admiring them but never buy one.

Therefore the GT will remain exclusive, much to the benefit of my ego. 


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