2021 Alfa-Romeo Giulia GTA and GTAm 952

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Alfa’s legendary Giulia GTA and GTAm badges are back on two new limited-production models with an extra 30hp, less weight, handling upgrades and launch control. Story by Chris Rees.


GTA RETURNS POWER, LIGHTNESS, TWO SEATS

A legendary badge makes a welcome comeback


 STAR REBORN

Heavens be praised: the ‘Gran Turismo Alleggerita’ is back at Alfa Romeo. After a gap of 15 years since the 147 GTA and 156 GTA were retired, the GTA badge makes its return on an Alfa – and it’s a very special one, being based on Alfa’s greatest car of the last decade, the Giulia Quadrifoglio.


A legendary badge makes a welcome comeback
A legendary badge makes a welcome comeback

The new Giulia GTA does, to some extent, invoke the spirit of the original 1965 Giulia GTA; an extra dose of power (540hp) and a weight loss programme (100kg off) make it consistent with its classic forebear’s raison d’etre. There are in fact not one but two new GTAs: regular and GTAm. Both share the same mechanical and chassis upgrades but the GTAm is even more extreme, with just two seats, a roll bar, six-point harnesses, Lexan windows and lots of carbon extras.

MORE POWER

Let’s start with the power boost. Rumours had been circulating that the GTA might get a mighty increase, perhaps up to over 600hp – after all, independent companies like Celtic Tuning have been extracting an easy 590hp from Alfa’s 2.9-litre V6 for some time – but in fact the GTA’s tweak is a more modest 30hp over the standard Quadrifoglio’s 510hp.

Still, 540hp is a not inconsiderable amount. How the extra power has been extracted isn’t yet clear (“meticulous development and calibration work” is all Alfa is saying so far). Doubtless the new Akrapovič exhaust system has had an effect. It’s made of titanium, has twin centre-exit pipes integrated into an all-new carbonfibre rear diffuser, and is said to provide “an unmistakable sound” – something borne out by Alfa’s online video footage.

WEIGHT LOSS & LAUNCH CONTROL

Alfa is claiming a weight saving of 100kg compared to the Giulia Quadrifoglio but only in the case of the GTAm. A lot of this comes from a severe interior stripout exercise (more on which below). The GTAm also features polycarbonate Lexan side and rear windows to save weight. The GTAm’s quoted figure is 1520kg, compared to 1620kg for the regular QV auto.

We weren’t able to get clarification on what the weight savings may be on the ‘normal’ GTA version but since it boasts a carbon front splitter and carbon front wheelarches, as well as revised suspension, there might be weight savings for the GTA, too. Alfa says the GTAm has a best-in-class power-to-weight ratio of 2.82kg/hp (or 355hp per tonne).

Performance is therefore improved: 0-62mph takes 3.6 seconds, some 0.3 faster than the regular QV – but that’s partly down to a first for a Giulia: a completely new Launch Control system.

AERO & AESTHETICS

Aerodynamics have been tweaked to increase downforce, with technical know-how borrowed from Formula 1. Sauber Engineering has devised a new ‘Sauber Aerokit’, which consists of aero side skirts that kick up towards the rear wheelarch, as well as an altered active front splitter and new carbon winglets that overlap the air dams. The bulging rear track is covered by carbon wheelarch extensions.

On the GTA, the carbon rear spoiler is slightly larger than the regular QV’s, but the GTAm boasts a huge Sauber-designed carbonfibre rear wing, which is claimed to offer better balance at high speeds. To us, the GTAm rear spoiler is distinctly reminiscent of the one developed by Zagato for its Alfa 155 TI-Z of 1994. Other cosmetic changes on both versions include a black roof, Italian flags on the mirror caps and Autodelta badges on the front wings.

Work has also been done to improve the Giulia’s already excellent handling. All-new 20-inch wheels with a single centre-lock nut make their debut. Both front and rear wheel tracks have been widened by 50mm to improve handling at high speeds, while there’s also a new set of springs, dampers and bushes. Carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes with gold callipers are also standard.


Render Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm (952) '2020
Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm (952) '2020

CABIN FEVER

The regular GTA’s interior is largely the same as the Quadrifoglio’s. The only significant upgrade is Alcantara trim for the dashboard, door panels, glove compartment, side pillars and seat centres. The GTAm version is much more radical. The rear seats are ditched completely, replaced by an Alcantara-upholstered tub which incorporates moulded cut-outs to house a pair of helmets and a fire extinguisher. There are no rear door panels, either.

The GTAm’s rear cabin also has a rollcage structure fitted, on which there are mounting points for new six-point Sabelt seat belts. Special new Sabelt monocoque racing seats with carbon shells also grace the GTAm. The GTAm’s front doors are opened with a lightweight red belt in place of a handle. New matt carbonfibre inserts give the interior a distinctive appearance, while red ‘GTAm’ logos make several appearances. Finally, the number of each individual car appears on the centre console.

LIMITED TO 500

The GTA/GTAm will be built in a limited edition of only 500 units in total, each one numbered and certified. Customers will be free to choose which version they want, but we have no doubt the GTAm will cost quite a bit more. Speaking of money, there’s no indication yet on price but the expectation is that it will be in six figures. Pre-orders are being accepted now (both left-and right-hand drive are available), and Alfa Romeo says that all 500 cars will be delivered by mid-2021.

Customers will also get a special “customer experience” package, consisting of a Bell open-face helmet with GTA livery, Alpinestars racewear (suit, gloves and shoes) and a personalised Goodwool car cover. A specific driving course will also be run by the Alfa Romeo Driving Academy.


TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS ALFA ROMEO GIULIA GTAM

ENGINE: 2891cc V6 twin-turbo

MAX POWER: 540bhp @ 6200rpm

MAX TORQUE: 400lb ft @ 3800rpm

TRANSMISSION: 8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive

BRAKES: Carbon ceramic discs

WHEELS: 20in centre-nut alloys

WEIGHT: 1520kg

MAX SPEED: 191mph

0-62MPH: 3.6 sec


INSPIRATION

The original Giulia GTA debuted 55 years ago, in 1965, as the Gran Turismo Alleggerita (‘lightened’) version of the Tipo 105 Sprint GT, whose aluminium bodywork reduced weight from 950kg to 820kg. Power was boosted, too, from 103hp to 115hp, but as much as 170hp was possible in Autodelta-tweaked race spec. Only around 500 1.6-litre GTAs were made. As for the ‘GTAm’ badge used on the late-1960s 2.0-litre racer, some suggested the ‘m’ stood for maggiorata (or ‘increased’) but Alfa Romeo itself said ‘Am’ stood for ‘America’, since it was based on the US-spec fuel-injected model.

Some 100kg is saved in all on the GTAm. Note the bare door pull straps and unique carbon shell seats.

Hardcore GTAm has only two (racing type) seats, roll cage, six-point harnesses and fire extinguisher. Yum!

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