Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA: Quadrifoglio turned up to 110 per cent
The coronavirus outbreak might have hit the pause button on the motor industry, but there are exciting models like the Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA to look forward to when we can press play again, writes William Scholes
ALFA Romeo's delectable Giulia is Drive's sports saloon of choice, with the sizzling Quadrifoglio version the pick of the bunch.
It feels a lot like what would happen if Ferrari were to build a four-door supercar.
However, the Quadrifoglio doesn't impress through power and pace alone, ample though they are, nor does it rely on its supermodel looks to reel you in.
No, what really sets the Alfa apart from other super-saloons such as the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-AMG C63 is the otherworldly way that it is capable of flowing along a bumpy Northern Ireland road.
It floats and glides through twisting corners and over undulations with a poise and delicacy that the German cars can't match.
The Italian car's 503bhp is more than enough for anyone, but because there's always someone who wants more Alfa Romeo has duly obliged by taking the covers off not one but two spin-offs.
Called the Giulia GTA and Giulia GTAm respectively, these are essentially lightweight and more powerful versions of the Quadrifoglio.
With Alfa Romeo due to celebrate its 110th birthday in June, think of the GTA as what happens when the Giulia is turned up to 110 per cent.
GTA - an abbreviation of Gran Turismo Alleggerita - is a fabled badge in Alfa Romeo's illustrious history, dating back to 1965's Giulia Sprint GTA.
Alleggerita is an Italian term for 'lightened' and that original Giulia GTA was more than 200kg lighter than the car it was based on, tipping the scales at 745kg instead of 950kg thanks to aluminium bodywork.
In the same spirit, Alfa Romeo has managed to shed 100kg from the weight of the Quadrifoglio for today's GTA thanks to lashings of carbon fibre, aluminium and other composite materials.
The GTAm is an even more extreme proposition. The front seats have carbon fibre shells and six-point belts, for example, and the rear pews have been removed altogether. In their place is a 'basin' swathed in Alcantara with places to hold helmets and a fire extinguisher.
With Alfa Romeo due to celebrate its 110th birthday in June, think of the GTA as what happens when the Giulia is turned up to 110 per cent
Lexan, a polycarbonate resin widely used in motorsport cars because of its lightness, has been used for the GTAm's side and rear windows. It also has a roll-bar, for the full track day vibe, and because they've binned the interior door panels you open the door by pulling a strap.
The wick on Quadrifoglio's stunning 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo engine has been turned up to 533bhp on both cars.
The cars' aerodynamics have also been tweaked - Alfa Romeo says its Formula 1 partner Sauber helped with this - with the GTAm getting an even more extreme aero kit, complete with carbon-fibre rear wing.
Slovenian pipe-bending wizards Akrapovic have supplied a titanium central exhaust system - it bursts out of a rear diffuser crafted from carbon fibre - and the wheels are 20-inch items with centre locks.
Front and rear tracks have both been widened by 5cm and the suspension treated to new springs, shock absorbers and bushings.
Performance is full-on; the 0-62mph sprint takes 3.6 seconds rather than the 'regular' Quadrifoglio's 3.9 seconds.
The diet brings the weight of a GTAm to 1,520kg, giving the car a best-in-class power-to-weight ratio.
Still, comparing that weight to the 1965 GTA's svelte 745kg - less than half the mass of the 2020 car - tells you a lot about how heavy cars have become over the decades.
Alfa Romeo says it will make a total of 500 examples of the boss Giulia, split between GTA and GTAm versions.
No prices have been announced yet, but well over £100,000 would seem likely.
For the record, I would be more than happy with a £64k Quadrifoglio...