Finally got my G!
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: United Kingdom
County: Greater London
Re: GT on hire ...
Greetings, and apologies for not reporting back sooner on my weekend with the GT but I havenít had a chance to set down my impressions before now.
It was good fun, although the trip got off to a disastrous start. To cut a long story short, I forgot my wallet and consequently missed my flight. I got on another one 6-1/2 hours later which was then delayed. So, the first day more or less disappeared.
As I was going to be so late arriving in Barcelona, I went to the Europcar desk at Gatwick Airport. They said they would let Barcelona know. What they actually did was mess the whole thing up because when I got to Barcelona my original Alfa GT-specific reservation had been deleted and I had been allocated some Peugeot or other.
"It's OK, sir," said the girl at the desk. "It's a nice big one." Yuk!
After a lot of argument, often quite heated, they realised what had happened and there, suddenly, was my Gabbiano Blue GT with black leather interior after all. Got to my first night hotel at 10:30 pm! Thank god for TomTom navigator Ö
The first thing I noticed with the GT was how you canít see a thing out of the back window. I noticed this as I was trying to cross six lanes of traffic at Barcelona airport on a Friday evening.
But itís a very stylish design which constantly turned heads. I was surprised at how much room there is inside and in the boot. Very practical, although I wouldnít want to spend too long as a back seat passenger. The leather was very nicely done but other parts let it down, including a tacky gear knob with a plastic top and the traditional vile plastic Alfa handbrake handle.
The Bose sound system was OK but not worth the extra cash, IMO.
The inside also rattled A LOT. I fixed most of this when I found that one of the rear seats had not been returned properly to lock in its upright position. Other minor rattles just persisted. Not something I could have put up with long-term. I must say the ability to put the seats down to make more stowage space does not come very high on my list of priorities and I fancy Iím not alone there in the group of potential GT drivers.
My main point of interest is the engine. This car had a 1.9l JTD Multijet which had done around 7,500 Km when I picked it up. The first thing I noticed was the totally unreconstructed rattling noise when it started up. It sounded like a London taxi. This noise quickly abated but it was still relatively noisy at idle, I would say. On the road, it was no noisier than the JTS although this car had quite noisy low profile tyres.
First of all, letís be clear, I am not a diesel convert. I have tried them out before, especially after hearing good things about the Alfa JTDs, but I am not convinced. In a country like Spain where diesel fuel is much cheaper than petrol it can make financial sense but the advantages are less clear in the UK.
I apologise for not being able to give detailed fuel consumption figures for this trip but the car is obviously frugal compared to my JTS. A tank of oil seemed to last forever. But, to me, with my average mileage, thatís not the most important thing.
Some say that diesels are just better to drive. All that torque Ö Previously, I had not done a proper test but I drove over 1,100 km on this trip and I am not converted.
Yes, there is a lot of torque and power low down but as has been pointed out by many people very regularly, this power comes in great lumps. It means that the red line is reached very easily Ė three gear changes before 70 mph. And gears 5 and 6 are totally useless unless you are cruising. On a road where the speed changes a lot, you realise that there isn't much point in 5th as you will soon have to change down.
On the winding mountain roads of NE Spain, this GT effectively had a 4-speed box but it did handle the twisting Pyrenean roads with aplomb. The power in the low revs meant that I could always get away from the hundreds of corners efficiently and, once I had got more used to the gearbox, it was fine and very quick. The handling is in the best Alfa tradition and I thought the brakes felt more efficient than those in my 156.
As well as all the twisty bits, the plains of NE Spain have some remarkably long straight sections where the speedo seemed to go over 200 kph. It was probably faulty, Mr policia, sir.
I did hanker after the nice long 2nd and 3rd gears in the TS and JTS.
In brief, I want one but it has to be a petrol one. But I want the new 157/8 more!
PS Have attached a couple of pix for your delectation.