note - wrong sub forum mods please more to GTV forum - sorry!
As a twice over GTV v6 owner and now a Z3 3.0 owner I though it might be interesting to a few people to give my honest comparison of these two cars with both their good and bad points. I have never owned an Alfa spyder V6 but I’m assuming its very similar to the coupe apart from the obvious!
Cost and buying:
GTV v6's prices are at rock bottom, they won’t drop further because they are worth more in parts than as a whole in many cases so now is the time to buy as you can pick up quality examples with full history for not much money. There seem to be more weak areas on the GTV than on the BMW so make sure that most of the big jobs have already been done and documented in the history and bills otherwise you might get a nasty surprise.
Z3 3.0 prices are a little more sturdy with BMW’s often unwarranted reputation for reliability helping it in this area. The BMW mechanicals are generally a little more robust than the GTV ie the engine is has a chain rather than a belt and the diff doesn’t have a nasty tendency to explode! Watch out for the boot floor cracking in the Z3 though just like the e46 3 series, it’s a weak point.
GTV wins this for me as the Z3 is very much an acquired taste (some would call it ugly!) However what the BMW loses in beauty is makes up for in aggression with the faux side vents which remind me of some second world war fighter plane, wider rubber and not so subtle bulging arches. The inside is a matter of taste but I prefer the seats in the Z3 as they are more supportive around bends and I like the chrome rimmed gauges although the GTV looks great inside too.
Alfa wins here too, the sound of the alfa v6 is awesome and although the flat 6 of the Z3 sounds ok too it just doesn’t play as sweet a tune especially at medium revs.
The Z3 seems faster and more eager to pull from lower revs at least that’s the impression I got when driving them back to back one weekend to the next. The Z3 is harder to trundle around town due to a sharper throttle and feels shorter geared although it only has 5 gears compared to the 6 cogs in my previous GTV. In the BMW the first and second ratios seem quite short but third really is a beast whereas the alfa’s gears seem more evenly spaced. I’d say that the BMW wins this round as even without mods it’s a more powerful engine and it feels like it.
The gear change in the Z3 has a shorter throw and feels a bit more sporty than the Alfa although it’s a little notchy when cold, once warmed up, the gear changes feel solid and positive. The gear change in the Alfa is longer, smoother, less notchy but overall a little looser feeling. I prefer the Z3 in this regard
Handling and brakes:
Bearing in mind by GTV had been fitted with a Q2 diff and handles better than a stock V6 I still have to give this round to the BMW. The combination of rear wheel drive, more sure footed turn in and ride comfort makes for a really enjoyable drive. This is comparing a coupe to a roadster too so you would expect the GTV to feel more rigid overall but it really doesn’t. The only time you feel a bit of chassis flex in the Z3 is at lower speeds over uneven surfaces, as soon as you pick up the pace everything seems to tighten up and I can throw the Z3 into corners at speeds that I wouldn’t have dared attempt in the GTV.
As for brakes, the GTV’s have the edge for me with one proviso, every GTV I’ve driven with the big Brembo brakes has had annoying squeal at times. I tried everything for copper grease to anti squeal shims to really punishing the pads and discs and nothing worked. I haven’t heard a peep out of the Z3 but the brakes seem less effective with a longer pedal travel. It’s due new discs and pads though so I’ll report back after I’ve had them fitted to see if it made a difference to the BMW’s braking ability and feel.
This is a tough one, given that I’ve had two v6 GTV’s and wanted to try something different I haven’t been disappointed with the Z3. It really does but a smile on my face every time I drop the top and take it over some twisties at speed. I think that overall it feels better engineered and certainly the handling is in a different class.
The looks and engine noise are amazing in the GTV though so I think If I was a first time buyer looking to buy one or the other I’d probably still go for the Alfa.
I hope you enjoyed my unbiased comparison of the two cars and perhaps it’ll help someone who might be on the lookout for a fun car for the summer.