Spotted: Alfa 147 GTA


As Dan alluded to in his recent blog, there currently exists a dearth of truly charismatic powerplants. A fact of life in this age of ever stricter emissions and efficiency regulations and one that has claimed some notable scalps. So this Spotted is a tribute to perhaps the saddest demise of them all; the Alfa V6, specifically installed in the 147 GTA.

You'd almost want a transparent bonnet
You'd almost want a transparent bonnet
The 3.2-litre variant of Alfa's V6 can trace its roots back to 1987, when Alfa Racing in South Africa bored and stroked the original 2.5 to 3.0-litres for the 75. The introduction of two camshafts and four valves per cylinder in 1993 lifted power over 200hp, whilst the 3.2 made its debut in 2002.

Nobody on PH needs reminding what a beautiful engine the Alfa V6 is, either to look at, listen or use. The reason this V6-engined 147 deserves special attention is that it may be the GTA that should have originally left the factory.

In 2012, a hot hatch can barely term itself as such without at least 250hp. But in 2003, that was a big power figure for the 147 to be wading into battle with. Moreover, even if 250hp is now a minimum requirement, some sort of advanced suspension tech or LSD-aping driver aid is employed to harness the power.

GTA has aged well looks-wise
GTA has aged well looks-wise
Alfa's attempts at this weren't as successful as today's efforts; the GTA couldn't transmit its power to the road effectively, that wonderful engine overwhelming the 147's chassis. Moreover, the GTA's flaws were ruthlessly exposed by its contemporaries. The first generation Focus RS was demonstrating the effectiveness of its torque-sensing Quaife diff whilst the Golf R32 offered 4WD security with its own sonorous V6.

The simple fact is the 147 GTA wasn't that competitive at its launch, and there's little that rose-tinted nostalgia can do about it. The standard car was good enough, but the chassis failed to match the delights of the engine. But this GTA isn't standard...

Sounds good on paper - worth a closer look?
Sounds good on paper - worth a closer look?
Bizarrely, the first Alfa Romeo fitted with its Q2 limited-slip differential wasn't either of the GTA flagships. In fact, it was first offered in GT and 147 diesels as an option in 2007. But soon the diffs were being retrofitted to V6 petrol cars, like this particular GTA.

Furthermore, the addition of Koni FSD dampers, Eibach anti-roll bars and a Wiechers front strut brace to this 147 can only have improved matters further. This car isn't a touring car replica (cool though that could be), it's a 147 GTA that has been optimised for road use with a set of choice modifications. Of course, it's hard to know without driving how far improved this car is from standard but, honestly, who wouldn't want to find out?


Engine: 3,179cc V6
Transmission: Six-speed manual, FWD
Power (hp): 250@6,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 221@4,800rpm
MPG: 23
CO2: 287g/km
First registered: 13/09/2004
Recorded mileage: 48,600
Price new: £22,520
Yours for: £7,895

See the original ad here

 

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Comments (160) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Ecurie Ecosse 17 Apr 2013

    Western in Edinburgh are a good main dealer, and rebuilt my GTA's engine properly after an Alfa specialist failed to diagnose the problem despite having the car for 6 weeks.

    So they're not all bad.

  • daredd 17 Apr 2013

    ITP said:
    I think you have been a bit unlucky there.
    You did however make 3 vital errors,

    1. Not changing the cambelt at 40k or 4 years whichever is sooner, 72k/5yrs that alfa quote is widely discredited as nonsense.
    Now I know. However what legal come back is there when you follow recommended service intervals and the thing still goes wrong?

    2. You didn't fit a Q2 as soon as you bought the car, this would have transformed the handling and saved the gearbox

    I drove it as from factory and it was pretty much unusable as there was no way you could put the power down or go around corners with any surety. Much better car now. Just need new wheels - 18 inch and wider lower profile rubber, better suspension (not coilovers), front and rear strut brace and thorough rust proofing.


    3. You used main dealers, most are diabolical to deal with. I can't imagine anyone taking a GTA to one now, well certainly since 2008 or so when the last ones would have been out of warranty.
    I used the main dealer once - Guest Alfa Romeo (Knowle), now Johnsons (Shirley)(seems they just bought the staff and the 'goodwill'). Cost me 800 quid. Told them I had 5 problems with the car, provided copious notes as to the problems. They lent me a car that leaked diesel fumes into the cabin and told me to drive with the windows down to minimise the problem. Upon return all 5 problems still existed after having the car 5 days. Also upon collection they told me that my tyres needed replacing and had not even had the foresight to earn more money by notifying me prior to me collecting the car.

    Since this I have been going to Simply Alfas in Stourbridge.

    Anyway I am now 'invested' in the car and will see this thing out until it or myself fall apart. :-)

  • Pat H 15 Apr 2013

    daredd said:
    Lots of expensive stuff.
    You have been very unlucky indeed.

    I have owned an old 156 2.5 V6 for the last three years.

    Over the last 30,000 miles it has cost me a set of pads, a pair of front discs and a set of anti roll bar drop links.

    It is, however, now due a cambelt change.

    Petrol aside, it has been very cheap to run.

    It is far from the most exotic or expensive car that I've owned. It certainly isn't the best built. And the brakes, handling, turning circle and ground clearance are all poor.

    But is probably my favourite car of all.

    I much prefer it to either of the 3.2 GTVs that I've had.


  • ITP 14 Apr 2013

    I think you have been a bit unlucky there.
    You did however make 3 vital errors,

    1. Not changing the cambelt at 40k or 4 years whichever is sooner, 72k/5yrs that alfa quote is widely discredited as nonsense.
    2. You didn't fit a Q2 as soon as you bought the car, this would have transformed the handling and saved the gearbox

    These 2 alone i would imagine accounted for more than half of you're outlay, and

    3. You used main dealers, most are diabolical to deal with. I can't imagine anyone taking a GTA to one now, well certainly since 2008 or so when the last ones would have been out of warranty.

  • daredd 14 Apr 2013

    Wow that is a mahoosive sum, what did the 10k go on?

    The car has now done 64,000 miles.
    I have probably missed some items off this list but I think you get the idea.

    The upper and lower arms have had to be replaced twice.
    The rear control arms.
    2 radiators.
    New battery.
    Coolant pipe severely corroded below radiator.
    Alarm unit faulty.
    Rear hatchback alarm switch faulty.
    Differential exploded, requiring Q2 diff, new clutch, recon gear box.
    Ballast replacement.

    Cam belt broke at 54,000 and 3 years - told Alfa and they politely told me to go 'F' myself despite the servicing being up to date and the cam belt originally being replaced by a dealer at 10,000 miles. Cost 2,500.

    Clutch slave cylinder.

    I always treat my cars with TLC.

    The list of vehicles I have owned is pretty decent:
    Ford Capri 2.0s.
    BMW 728i.
    VW Golf GTI 16v - 3 of these.
    VW Golf V6 4motion - dull beyond belief.
    Audi RS4 B5 - very fast but they forgot to fit decent brakes.
    Porsche 911 Targa 1989 - good but a little agricultural.
    Porsche 964 RS (330bhp RUF modified) - amazing but impractical on the roads.
    Porsche 968 CS - brilliant car but half an inch of snow and it does not go anywhere.
    Peugeot 106 GTI (LAD tuned to 160bhp) - amazing go kart.
    Renault Sport Clio 182 - superb and cheap as chips.
    Renault Clio Sport V6 255 - superb, just like an old 911.
    Audi S-Line 2.0 TDI 140 bhp - dull, dull, dull, like driving a corpse.

    I bought the GTA originally for my wife. Good job she did not like it as I would be in the divorce court by now given all the aggravation I have had with it.

    The only truly unreliable car I have had is this Alfa. Bad experiences outside of this car have been down to shoddy service from dealers.


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