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Alfa Romeo GTV 3.0 V6

Alfa Romeo

Review

THE thing about Alfa Romeo is that you want so much from that glamorous badge. You expect sensational styling, fabulous handling and performance to match. But it's only in the last couple of years that we've been treated to the royal flush. The 156 started it all, but you can't - hand on heart - say the same of the 145 and 146.

And what of the GTV and Spider? Sensational to look at, great to drive but somewhat short in the pony department. Performance - and, more importantly, the sound - has never kept pace with the looks. Until now, that is. And now it's here, powered by the same glorious 220bhp 3.0-litre V6 that will debut in the forthcoming 166 executive saloon early next year.

To the Alfa purist, the GTV V6 is nirvana. Only Alfa seems to be able to make a V6 that sounds like a Ferrari, and in the GTV's fantastic shape it's an ensemble that raises your pulse. So smooth and with a spine-tingling yowl, you'll want to drive everywhere with the window open. Top speed is 150mph with 0-62mph in 6.7secs and flexibility that means the GTV is a pussycat to drive around town.

On the open road it's sensational. Not flawless like a BMW but challenging, rewarding, endearing. Quick steering and great grip despite relatively modest 205-section tyres points to a well-sorted chassis: there's no need for traction control, and, accordingly, the GTV V6 doesn't have it. And all the time, there's that fabulous engine to play with. There's even talk of a six-speed range-topper if the demand exists: if you're interested in a GTV V6, get your name down now for this because it's a tighter, crisper shift and there's less of a gap between ratios to give a more seamless drive.

Behind the wheel, you get used to a few creaks and rattles, the closeness of the pedals, and a scattered dash layout - though this has been tweaked with a new console and door trims, air con as standard on all models and a variety of interior trim options. There are also subtle differences outside, such as chrome trim around the Alfa shield, or Scudetto, on the front, side skirts, body colour bumpers and side strips and new 16in alloys.

But best of all is the price: the GTV 2.0 Twin Spark costs £22,158 on the road (or £24,854 in plusher Lusso trim) whereas the V6 is £28,068 - competitive with the likes of the Peugeot 406 Coupe V6 (£27,270). And you get a three-year/60,000-mile warranty as standard. Ah yes. Overall, wonderful. Alfa's portfolio of full-on models has another recruit. The brand is back on track.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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