The Alfa GT, a new sports coupé derived from the Alfa 156 and indisputable star of the recent Geneva and Frankfurt Motor Shows, is due to go on sale at the end of the year. The model, designed by the Bertone Style Centre, will be appreciated for its original, pleasing styling that promises all the satisfaction of a sporty drive with full respect for brand traditions.
The Alfa GT also succeeds in packing the results of Alfa’s superlative engineering heritage into a shape inspired by a sense of style and flair that could only be Italian. The stylists were also able to call on a great Alfa Romeo tradition that has brought us models that remain benchmarks for the category: from the 1900 SS to the Giulietta Sprint, from the Alfetta to the Giulia Sprint.
With a length of 4.48 metres, width of 1.76 metres and a height of 1.37 metres, the Alfa GT Coupé is aggressive and compact (its wheelbase is 2596 millimetres), with a shape marked by certain distinctive traits that define its strong personality and render it immediately recognisable as an Alfa. Hence the designers’ decision to go for smooth, clean motifs and shapes marked by an unmistakable sense of Italian flair. The result is a strong, spare front end dominated by an Alfa Romeo family resemblance encapsulated by the distinctive three-lobed motif bearing a shield that is slightly larger in size than at present. The entire car appears to grow from this point to combine a slight edge of styling aggression with outstanding elegance of form.
This impression is reinforced by two side air intakes and light clusters that are objects of beauty in their own right.
Dashing and solid but also dynamic and sturdy. It took a clever balancing act to wed such disparate features. This contrast is evident in the Alfa GT’s profile where a side shelf unmistakably conveys the idea of a car that is agile but also anchored to the ground. And more.
The taut lines that meet at the rear and the small area of glass (compared to the large expanse of metal at the side) add elegance and also sturdiness.
The slightly raked and tapering tail design is brand new and paired with large, integral bumpers. The rear window is drop-shaped, while the light clusters are embedded in the body to create an attractive wraparound look.
The Alfa GT represents a brand new concept in sportiness, where comfort and elegance combine. The aim of the car is to offer all the driving satisfaction of a top-performing coupé without ever compromising over comfort and practicality, as often happens with this type of car. Suffice it to say that the luggage compartment offers a capacity of 320 dm3, one of the best results for this segment.
Like the exterior shape, the interior of the Alfa GT is as sporty as Alfa Romeos get. The steering wheel, pedals and gearbox, for example, are designed for maximum vehicle control. The instruments are also functional and easy to read, even at night. Red lighting is used as this is easier for the eyes to focus on as they adjust from the dark road to the bright dashboard. A multifunction display gives access to several menus (each with their own submenus) that speak the motorist’s language and provide access to a large range of functions plus the trip computer.
The centre of the Alfa GT facia also houses a built-in radio and all the controls for the sophisticated-looking automatic dual zone climate control system. The radio, complemented by a CD player (or an MP3 player as an option), also offers outstanding sound quality and was designed and built for the passenger compartment. It consists of eight speakers and delivers a power output of 4x40 Watts. The Alfa GT adds a host of sophisticated devices and systems to this equipment array that make it a new benchmark in its segment.
Examples include: VDC, Xenon headlights and up to six airbags (under the heading of safety); CONNECT Nav+ with radio and phone controls on the steering wheel, Bose Hi-Fi system and CD-changer (for audio and infomobility); Cruise Control (for stress-free driving); 16" and 17" alloy wheels (for car customisation).
All these creature comforts are complemented by opulent interiors. The new sports coupé offers two interior specifications: a classic sports specification with black facia and panels and another brighter and more stylish specification that is still very sporty and features a two-tone black on grey colour scheme. The facia and door panel trim features a natural appearance with a special satinised effect. The top-quality, good-looking seats are specific to each version. And also: the trims are pleasant to touch and blend in well with the extensive grosgrain surfaces typical of Alfa Romeo cars. On mid-range versions, in particular, we have introduced Alfatex®, a product patented by Alfa Romeo. This new hi-tech cloth is used on the seats and door panels and is available in grey and black.
Customers can also choose leather trim (available in black, blue, red, tan and grey) or one of three interiors hand-upholstered to standards of classic Italian craftsmanship (sports, elegant and classic) that feature sophisticated contrast stitching. One factor shared by all three interiors is top quality, fine-grained Prestige leather with a natural look and beautifully soft to the touch. The new model also features a gearknob in aluminium on petrol versions but leather-trimmed on the diesels and the powerful 3.2 V6 24v.
The Alfa GT has inherited all the attributes of the Alfa 156. Beginning with its specially configured suspension layout: high double-wishbone at the front, McPherson at the rear with transverse rods of different lengths. Other attractions include two generous power units, each offering one of the best specific power ratings in its cylinder capacity category: the 140 bhp 1.8 T. Spark (available after launch) and the 165 bhp 2.0 JTS. The 150 bhp 1.9 M-Jet 16v is exclusive to the Alfa GT. Customers who want the very best in terms of performance and sportiness can choose a GTA version equipped with a powerful 240 bhp 3.2 V6 24 valve engine. By combining these engines with a huge range of equipment, we have created an extensive new model range that offers specification packages including the most sought-after equipment in individual countries. The Alfa GT is available in three specifications in major European markets: Progression, Distinctive e Luxury. The first is reserved for 2.0 JTS and 1.9 M-Jet 16v versions; the second and third are both equipped with all the power units in the range, including the 2.0 JTS Selespeed. Next year, the product range will be further extended by a specification known as Impression, combined with a 1.8 Twin Spark 16v, a 2.0 JTS and a 1.9 M-Jet 16v power unit. The new sports coupé can also come in no fewer than 12 body-colours.
A whole host of versions for your very own Alfa GT. All offering great value for money and, above all, heirs to a motoring tradition that Alfa Romeo helped create and has now taken one step further: the stylish sports coupé.
The ’sports coupé’, Alfa Romeo style
Alfa Romeo has written many of the most important chapters in the history of motoring. The leading players in this story are the cars, the designers, the races and the engines that were the stars of technological progress and motorsport events in the Twentieth Century. This is the common strand that links all Alfa models, a venerable gene pool of engineering features and motifs that are critically reappraised and reinterpreted whenever a new car is created. Now, as then, the Alfa Romeo designers and engineers are working to design and build good looking cars that are full of character, to achieve the elusive balance between reason and sentiment, between engineering culture and design creativity. The finest expression of the inimitable personality that makes a car bearing the Alfa Romeo shield stand out from all others on the roads. And the Alfa GT is no exception.
The new sports coupé is a quintessential example of Alfa’s creative vitality and our exclusive understanding of cars. It is no mere means of transport but a car able to give its driver true sensations and break through the confines of necessity to the field of pure emotion: aesthetic taste, a passion for sophisticated engineering, the sheer pleasure of sitting behind the wheel and an expression of one’s own personality.
The Alfa GT also succeeds in packing the results of Alfa’s superlative engineering heritage into a shape inspired by a sense of style and flair that could only be Italian. The stylists were also able to call on a great Alfa Romeo tradition that has brought us models that, particularly within the GT category, remain benchmarks of their type: from the 1900 SS to the Giulietta Sprint, from the Alfetta to the Giulia Sprint GT.
For the aficionados amongst us, there follows a short summary of these historical cars. Each of these cars has lent a styling detail to the new Alfa GT but all have given it its character of stylish sportiness.
Firstly, the Giulia Sprint GT. Designed in 1963 by Nuccio Bertone and introduced firstly at Arese and then at the Frankfurt Motor Show, this extraordinary coupé is a stylistic development of the Giulietta Sprint. The car is more compact due to its slightly shorter wheelbase and features a penetrating shape hardly interrupted by a bumper outline, with light clusters embedded in the grille and tail end. The Giulia Sprint GT was equipped with a 103 bhp 1600 engine and could carry up to four people. It remained in production until 1966 and sold more than 22,600. The car’s roomy passenger compartment, generous luggage compartment and top-quality interior made it a top-class saloon, but with an unsuspected sporty temperament. So much so that the UK magazine Car and Driver wrote: ’Driving this car is sheer enjoyment’. It was no mere chance the famous GTA logo was seen for the first time on a subsequent version of this model. Now we have reached 18 February 1965, the year when Autodelta presented the Giulia Sprint GTA coupé, where A stands for ’alleggerita’ or lightened. The outer body was the same as that of the GT, but the interior trim was made out of Peraluman 25, a light alloy of aluminium, manganese, copper and zinc. The new car differed from its sister externally in the addition of front air intakes, handles and the triangular Autodelta badge.
The Alfa GT is truly the heir to this car of the early Sixties that met with such great commercial and sporting success. The same could be said of another two versions of the model: the Giulia saloon TI and the Giulia Super 1600. An advertising slogan of the day said that the TI was the car ’designed by the wind’. The shape was revolutionary: low front enclosed by four headlights, plunging bonnet, a windscreen as small as that of a fighter aircraft and, above all, a cut-off end. The engine was a 1570 cc unit capable of unleashing 92 bhp. Then came the Giulia Super 1600 of 1965, featuring padded, wraparound seats and a facia with a wooden dashboard. The car was also fitted with a chrome strip beneath the doors and stainless steel bumpers. All these trappings disguised considerable power and torque: 98 bhp and 13.3 Nm.
Like the Giulia Sprint GT before it, the new Alfa Romeo model harks back to another prestigious car: the Giulietta Sprint designed by Nuccio Bertone in 1954, the car that many consider to be the forerunner of present-day sporty Gran Turismo cars. A top speed of 165 km/h made it the fastest car in its category. One year later, at the 37th Turin Motor Show, came the turn of the saloon: 1290 cc cylinder capacity, 53 bhp and 140 km/h top speed (rising to 62 bhp and 145 km/h in 1962). Nothing could beat it in its market category at the time and motorists knew it. For about ten years, the Giulietta - in the form of the Sprint, Saloon and Spider - continued to exert the same appeal and increased Alfa Romeo sales from tens of thousands of units to hundreds of thousands. The hundred thousandth Giulietta rolled off the Portello production line in February 1961 in the presence of its godmother, actress Giulietta Masina. Although its cylinder capacity and dimensions were small, the model deserves a place in the history of Alfa Romeo sports saloons for the way it was able to interpret the contemporary motoring zeitgeist: the uncluttered, appealing lines of a coupé, state-of-the-art mechanical units, power and roadholding.
The third reference point for the new Alfa GT sports coupé was the Alfetta, with which it shares its original styling, whereby a compact external shape conceals optimum passenger room and a luggage compartment measuring more than half a cubic metre. The Alfetta saloon went on sale in 1972 and immediately became an icon of the decade. It owed its success to its excellent design, which combined an appealingly mettlesome style with a lively engine, sophisticated mechanical units and great production quality. The engine was a tried and tested 1.8 twin shaft four cylinder unit of 122 bhp capable of carrying this car, which weighed just over one thousand kg and measured 4.28 metres long, to 180 km/h.
In 1975, the model range was extended to include a version with a 109 bhp 1.6 engine (identifiable from the outside by its front end with just two headlights) while the 1.8 underwent a couple of changes. The Alfetta 2.0 that appeared two years later was something else entirely: the redesigned front end was ten centimetres longer; the headlights had become rectangular and other changes had been made to the grille, bumpers, tail-lights and - naturally - the interior. The facia was more linear (it was also walnut trimmed on the 2000 L from 1978) and the upholstery and door panels were in fine cloth. The steering wheel, seat profile and instruments and controls were also different. The bigger capacity made the car easier to handle and ensured the Alfetta was one of the best balanced cars in its category. After 1979, it also became the first turbodiesel saloon to feature a cylinder head divided into four parts, one per cylinder.
We will close this brief review of cars that inspired the new model with the 1900, in particular the two Sprint and Super Sprint coupé versions that reached a top speed of 190 km/h. Apart from anything else, when Alfa Romeo launched the 1900 in 1950, it invented the ’sports saloon’ and the model became the first Alfa with a load-bearing body. The result was, according to a apt slogan of the day, ’the family car that wins races’. Above all, it introduced the idea of a new motoring concept: a high-performing saloon for everyday use. In some ways this four-doored saloon heralded the styling of the Giulietta. It was very roomy inside and could accommodate five people, plus a child on the front seat because the gear-lever was on the steering wheel. This was a family car, yet it came with an effervescent 1884 cc four cylinder in-line engine that offered the driver 90 bhp. This model took Alfa Romeo to success in sporting competitions: the Tour de France, the Targa Florio, the Stella Alpina and the Coupe des Alpes.
Altogether, the Alfa GT offers a deliciously nostalgic taste of these four famous models, yet packaged in an up-to-the-minute shape. Attention to detail is also its most telling attribute. Going back to the past does not necessarily mean stealing the shape of an earlier car. It means reclaiming the motifs that belong to Alfa Romeo by traditional right and reinterpreting them in the light of opportunities offered by present-day technology and contemporary customer taste.
Exterior and interior
Styling changes in keeping with tradition
A car that arouses strong emotions: a dashing, aggressive line with a stylish and sophisticated overall look. Herein lies the soul of the Alfa GT, the new model derived from the Alfa 156 and designed by the Bertone style centre. This styling achievement respects distinctive Alfa traits and confirms yet again the profitable collaboration that Alfa Romeo has enjoyed with the Turin Style Centre for over fifty years.
All the great European coachworks have, at one time or other, helped clad Alfa cars. The long history of cooperation has mirrored changes in the company and in popular taste. Nowadays, the craftsmen of bygone times have given way to true designers who work with the Alfa Romeo Style centre, often as outside consultants.
This is the philosophy behind the Bertone Style Centre’s creative contribution to the Alfa GT. It is no mere chance that the new vehicle immediately calls to mind the Giulia Sprint GT, the model created by Nuccio Bertone in 1963: Alfa’s new coupé shares the same sporty nature, smooth tapering lines and great Italian sense of style.
The Alfa GT offers original style and exhilarating performance. It also represents a brand new concept in sportiness, where comfort and elegance combine. The car aims to offer all the driving satisfaction of an extraordinarily high-performing coupé without the compromises typically dictated by this type of car. The roomy luggage compartment (320 dm3) is one of the most generous in its segment.
With a length of 4.48 metres, width of 1.76 metres and a height of 1.37 metres, the Alfa GT Coupé is aggressive and compact (its wheelbase is 2596 millimetres), with a shape marked by certain distinctive traits that define its strong personality and render it immediately recognisable.
A new interpretation of the distinctive three-lobed Alfa motif is evident at the front. The shield is slightly larger and constitutes an imposing presence out of which the entire car appears to grow. The result is very effective: it oozes force and aggression. This impression is reinforced by two side air intakes and light clusters that are objects of beauty in their own right.
The rear end also has a lot to say stylistically. The tail end of the Alfa GT is compact and slightly dipped and tapering with large built-in bumpers. The rear window is drop-shaped while the light clusters are embedded in the body. The tail also offers the right amount of balance and elegance with its strongly raked rear window and top-quality wraparound tail-light design.
The equally distinctive profile gives the model the appearance of an agile, solid and protective car. This is due above all to a pronounced shelf on the side that makes the car look slender and dynamic. Taut lines that meet at the rear and the small area of glass (compared to the large extent of metal at the side) add elegance and also sturdiness.
Like the exterior shape, the interior of the Alfa GT is as sporty as Alfa Romeos get. The steering wheel, pedals and gearbox, for example, are designed for maximum vehicle control. The instruments are also functional and allow clear, simple and immediate understanding of the information. They also look good. Two big round analogue dials (the speedometer and rev counter) are located on either side, while two smaller gauges are located in the middle (fuel level and coolant temperature) with a central display beneath. All the dials have a grey background and black numbers. Red lighting (with adjustable brightness) makes the dials easier to read at night. The shade is easier for the eye pupils to focus on as they adjust from the dark road to the bright dashboard.
The Alfa GT on-board instrument array includes a multifunction display that allows access to several menus (and submenus) that speak the motorist’s language (you can choose between the main European languages) and offer a host of functions. For example: clock, date, programmable buzzer and displays for the radio, phone, check control etc. Plus a trip computer that provides a set of information on previous or current trips: fuel consumption (instantaneous and average), average speed, remaining range, journey time (since the trip started) and kilometres covered.
In the centre of the facia you find built-in radio and controls for the automatic dual zone climate control system produced with a sophisticated design. In detail, the radio, complete with CD player (also available with MP3 player) offers an outstanding sound system designed and adjusted to the passenger compartment that consists of six speakers and delivers a power output of 4x40 Watts. The radio may also be activated by controls on the steering wheel (optional).
Customers can choose between two interior specifications: a classic sports specification with black facia and panels and another brighter and more stylish specification that is still very sporty and features a two-tone black on grey colour scheme. The facia and door panel trim features a natural, non-geometrical surface appearance with a special satinised effect that makes it look opulent and feel soft to the touch. The trims have also been designed and created to emphasise the character of the interiors. They blend in well with the extensive grosgrain surfaces typical of Alfa Romeo cars. The seats are specific to each version, all specially designed to the highest quality and aesthetic standards.
On mid-range versions, in particular, we have introduced Alfatex, a new hi-tech cloth used on the seats and door panels and available in grey and black. Alfatex was patented by Alfa Romeo and is a special microfibre used to improve transpiration and assure outstanding seating comfort and great elegance.
The Alfa GT product range concludes with leather trim in five colours: black, blue, red, natural and grey. These are complemented by three interiors that are hand-upholstered to standards of classic Italian craftsmanship. The first has a sporty look: the facia, panels and seats are black with a double line of stitching in the same shade. The second interior is beige on the facia and panels while the panel insert and seats are in cream with contrast stitching. The product range is completed by classic upholstery that features two different shades of grey, again with contrast stitching. One factor shared by all three interiors is top quality, fine-grained prestige leather with a natural look and beautifully soft to the touch. The new model also features a gearknob that is aluminium on petrol versions but leather-trimmed on the diesels and the powerful 3.2 V6 24v.
Stress free driving and on-board wellbeing throughout
The Alfa GT assures a welcoming, well-lit environment that offers much more comfort than you would expect from a sports coupé in terms of space available to the driver and passengers. The new model now also offers all the extra systems and devices made available by contemporary technological advances: bi-zone automatic climate control system, Cruise Control, CONNECT NAV+, multifunction display, radio with steering wheel controls and a sophisticated Hi-Fi system by Bose, the US company that leads the world in this sector.
Automatic dual zone climate control system
Interior climate is one of the main comfort factors during a trip and is also very important for interior safety because temperature, humidity and ventilation affect the driver’s well-being and thus his or her level of alertness. And of course the heating and ventilation system is also responsible for demisting the windscreen and side windows. For this reason, the Alfa GT comes with a sophisticated climate control system that automatically controls temperature, air flow, air distribution, compressor activation and recirculation by means of an electronic control unit. It also acts as a dual zone climate control system, i.e. able to ensure two different temperatures simultaneously: one in the right part of the passenger compartment and the other in the left.
The Alfa GT also implements an equivalent temperature climate control strategy. It records internal and external temperature by means of certain sensors and assesses the sensation of thermal well-being experienced by passengers, i.e. the energy exchange between human body and passenger compartment that is affected by humidity, temperature and treated air flow.
Another sensor located in a central position at the windscreen base records solar radiation on the car and the angle at which the rays strike the passenger compartment. This allows the system to prevent an excessive increase in temperature inside the car caused by the sun and thus to inform the climate control system in time.
All these parameters are monitored continuously and used to update the distribution, ventilation and mixing automatically. Air temperature at the outlets and fan speed are therefore adjusted to ensure passengers experience the desired sensation of thermal well-being (achieved by setting the required temperature). The result is a constant climate, even with significant changes in external conditions.
The system may be adjusted to one of seven set combinations to allow air taken into the car to reach all areas of the passenger compartment.
The system also offers three possible temperature settings: ’LO’ (maximum cooling), ’HI’ (maximum heating) and ’MAX DEF’ (fast defrost).
The possibility of altering interior temperature gradually, half a degree at a time, makes for outstanding climatic comfort. The knob can be used to bring about a temperature change of 16°C, with a maximum temperature difference of 7 degrees between the left and right areas.
Manual adjustment is used for: setting the interior temperature (right and left), voluntary air flow distribution changes, fan speed (if air flow is to be altered) and fan deactivation, compressor deactivation (in practice, the system works in the same way as an automatic heater), recirculation control and the ’MAX DEF’ function for fast defrosting.
Manual choices always over-ride automatic settings. They are also indicated by deactivation of the Full Auto led and stored until the user cancels the command. Each time the system is turned on, it returns to the conditions saved upon deactivation, except for the ’MAX DEF’ function, which is zeroed. The entire system can also be turned off manually to deactivate the air conditioning system fully.
Versions with a JTD engine are fitted as standard with a supplementary heater built into the climate control system that allows outstanding passenger compartment comfort even when the weather is very harsh. Because the JTD engines are so thermodynamically efficient, the radiator coolant may heat very slowly if the outdoor temperature is very low.
All Alfa GTs are fitted as standard with Cruise Control, a system that helps motorists to manage vehicle speed and improve travelling comfort. The device allows a cruising speed set by the driver to be maintained automatically by governing the engine throttle directly. The device is controlled by means of a lever on the column switch with two wheels. The first is turned to ON to activate the system while the second (actually a manual accelerator) must be moved to the plus (or minus) sign to achieve the required speed. When the control is released, the car continues to travel at the saved speed without the driver pressing the accelerator pedal.
The Cruise Control system can work within the entire range of rpm levels allowed by the engine, but only at speeds over 30 km/h. It is therefore advisable to turn it on only if road conditions allow the set value to be maintained in safety.
When the accelerator pedal is pressed (during overtaking, for example), the Cruise Control system is temporarily disabled even though the system stays on. The car therefore accelerates as required, but the system automatically restores the car to the stored speed as soon as the pedal is released. For obvious safety reasons, the device is released automatically when the driver presses the brake or clutch pedal.
In this case, you can go back to the preset speed by pressing the RECALL button at the end of the Cruise Control stalk.
Turn the wheel OFF and turn off the engine to deactivate the Cruise Control finally and cancel all previous settings. A warning light on the display indicates system operation or deactivation status.
A revolutionary multifunctional display in the middle of the Alfa GT facia performs the twofold function of providing the driver with information on the main trip parameters (Trip computer) and providing instant feedback on car faults and action required.
The device provides access to several menus (with submenus) that speak the motorist’s language (the choice is between Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and Dutch) and offer the benefits of a host of functions and information. For example: date, outdoor temperature, speed limit setting, fault display etc. The Alfa GT 3.2 V6 24v display also shows engine oil temperature trends.
The customer can also use the Trip computer to find out a set of data on previous trips or the current journey: fuel consumption (instantaneous and average), average speed, remaining range, journey time (since the trip started) and kilometres covered.
Radio with integral steering wheel controls
The Alfa GT offers a radio with CD player and, as an option, an MP3 player. Both products share a carefully put together sound system designed and adjusted to suit the passenger compartment that comprises eight speakers and offers a power output of 4 x 40 Watts.
The radio is integral with the dashboard design and located in the middle of the facia in a position that is convenient for both driver and passenger. It can store up to 30 stations. It offers RDS (Radio Data System). And also TA (Traffic Announcement) and PTY (programme choice option), options in addition to an automatic device that adjusts the volume to the car speed and also a big alphanumerical display. Each time the radio is turned on, the volume is the same as when the set was turned off. The set is equipped with a device for controlling an external CD (with a capacity of 10 CDs). The radio with CD player is also equipped with a 7 band graphic equaliser. This device offers a choice of four equalisation settings: the default setting and also Jazz, Rock and Classic. The motorist can also choose special effects or adjust and save the sound parameters.
Motorists can also order a steering wheel with electric radio controls.
Bose sound system
The Bose Sound System produced for Alfa Romeo by the US company Bose, a leader in the Hi-Fi sound sector, offers each passenger exceptional listening quality under all driving conditions.
The radio Hi-Fi comes with full logic controls, power output of 360 Watts (4x40 plus 200 Watts for the subwoofer) and offers all the functions described for the previous radio. These are complemented by a sound system consisting of eight speakers (six plus two full-range speakers) and a subwoofer with a 5-channel analogue amplifier (200 Watts of power) that reproduces the lower frequencies and is built into the luggage compartment.
The Bose Sound System arouses the same emotions as you feel when you listen to a live concert. The system offers realistic reproduction with crystal clear high notes and full, rich bass tones. It does not fall into the trap of creating unnatural sounds that are initially appealing but are tiresome for the listener in the long run. The sound also wraps around all the occupants and gives them the sensation that it is travelling through a much larger environment, because the sound system and the passenger compartment have been designed together to ensure perfect harmony between the technical specifications of both.
To achieve this result, the Bose engineers carefully chose all the parts of the stereo system and established the best possible speaker position in relation to the listeners with the aid of advanced design software.
An integrated signal processor automatically adjusts bass tones so that they are always perfect at any volume. The device is more sophisticated than ordinary volume controls on conventional devices and ensures a high-quality sound that is always natural.
An active equalisation circuit ensures an excellent automatic electronic balance of all output frequencies, great stability and clarity of tone throughout the audio range. All this means that you can enjoy impeccable music reproduction under all driving conditions without having to fiddle with the controls.
Sound clarity is also aided by active compressor circuits that ensure the system does not display any distortion, even when the volume is turned up high. The interaction between all these sophisticated components gives rise to the extraordinary sound that has made the Bose® brand famous throughout the world.
Fiat Auto, a leader in the field of information technology for automotive applications, is now pursuing a policy of bringing GSM phones, navigation systems, Internet connection and devices such as handsfree sets and voice memos on board its cars. All these devices are concentrated in CONNECT, the most advanced integrated tool of this type and the one that currently offers the highest number of functions and services.
The CONNECT system, located in the centre of the facia, acts as an on-board assistant that can be asked to make a phone call, consult a road map, put on some music or take a memo. All this is done by means of the keys that surround the unit or voice commands that may be issued while the screen relays a detailed report on requirements. The resulting device is full of functions, comes at an advantageous price and is, above all, as easy to use as one would expect of latest-generation technology.
Apart from all this, CONNECT offers something more than its competitors. All the ’CONNECT’ services provided by Targa Infomobility represent a true revolution in the field of in-car telematics. And all at the press of a single key. Sophisticated technology that is easy to use and always ready to serve the driver. More than twenty thousand subscribers throughout Europe cannot be wrong. They can call on our operators at the Arese Contact Centre who are always ready to provide information and resolve problems, 365 days a year. Motorists are just a phone call away from personal assistants who speak their language (14 are already active), can help them find their way and give them information on traffic conditions and the weather en route to their destination. They can even recommend a restaurant, book a hotel or buy airline tickets for motorists.
The service can guide you step by step to your destination and even notify you of traffic changes (follow me service). While still remembering to give the result of a match played by your favourite team.
CONNECT is destined to make the idea of a car journey as a period of detachment from everyday activities and habits a thing of the past. Instead a car journey will become a time in our day that allows us to maintain contact with the outside world and even offer a few extra opportunities.
Alfa GT customers will be able to use the most advanced level of CONNECT: CONNECT Nav+, including RDS with CD-ROM drive for MP3 files; trip computer; dual band GSM phone with handsfree set and WAP technology; GPS module and SOS key for logging onto the Contact Centre to receive assistance and information; active matrix 7" colour display; map navigation system; Atlas function; voice commands for the phone and a voice memo. The system can also incorporate an external CD changer.
Powerful, smooth power units
The Alfa GT’s attractive, personality-packed looks conceal a diverse range of outstanding high-tech power units that offer generous performance. They are the best confirmation of the great sporting heart that has always distinguished an Alfa Romeo model, now and forever. The new Alfa GT is certainly no exception.
First up, the sparky 3.2 V6 24 valve unit delivers a power output of 240 bhp (176 kW) at 6200 rpm and boasts a torque curve of 300 Nm (30.6 kgm) at 4800 rpm for exhilarating performance on a sporty run but also during everyday use. The second power unit available is the 165 bhp (121 kW) 2.0 JTS. This is the first direct injection petrol unit with specific power higher than 60 kW/l (82 bhp/l) and a specific torque greater than 100 Nm/l. The third and final petrol unit is the 140 bhp 1.8 T. Spark (103 kW), a blend of Alfa’s experience in Twin Spark technology, due to become available after the launch. The Alfa GT line-up is concluded by the 150 bhp (110 kW) 1.9 M-Jet 16v turbodiesel, forerunner of the second generation of Common Rail power units.
Two manual gearboxes are also available: a six speed unit for the 3.2 V6 24V and 1.9 M-Jet 16v and a five-speed unit for the 1.8 Twin Spark and 2.0 JTS versions.
The latter may also be combined with a robotised Selespeed gearbox that offers customers a sporty, comfortable and safe drive in all situations.
240 bhp (176 kW) 3.2 V6 24 valve
The top of the range power unit for the new sports coupé is the lively 3.2 V6 24 valve unit, the same adopted on GTV, Spider and New Alfa 166 models.
The powerful 3.2 unit power unit, derived from the now classic V6 24 valve three litre unit, is a vigorous and, above all, ’round’ engine in the best six cylinder tradition. The engineers changed the crankshaft and pistons to increase the cylinder capacity to 3.2 litres and lengthened the stroke to 78 millimetres. This change speaks volumes about the type of performance required because the power could simply have been increased by adjusting the timing, fuel system and electronics.
The fact that cylinder capacity has been increased by lengthening the stroke means that the aim was not simply to obtain out-and-out performance coupled with high power and torque peaks but also an even, gradual power delivery from the lowest speeds. As befits a car capable of thrilling performance that is suited for driving on ordinary roads as well as on the track.
The increase in cylinder capacity is naturally accompanied by a whole set of changes. The intake and exhaust ports have been tuned by applying a new timing pattern, the control unit software has been rewritten and the cooling system has been upgraded with the addition of an engine oil radiator.
The result? Power output is 240 bhp (176 kW) at 6200 rpm with a maximum torque of no less than 300 Nm (30.6 kgm) at 4800 rpm. These figures are all it takes to achieve exciting performances and are complemented by a torque curve that permits high values at low speeds. The car can also travel in sixth gear at less than 2000 rpm and unleash speed spurts without changing gear. Extremely satisfying behaviour, therefore, even during daily use. The self-confessed goal of the Alfa GT is this: to offer sensations unique to a racing car yet still be perfectly serviceable for everyday use.
165 bhp (121 kW) 2.0 JTS
The 2.0 JTS is a top-performing power unit that owes its name of JTS (Jet Thrust Stoichiometric) to its specific combustion system. As far as the customer is concerned, this means a two litre car that: already meets tough Euro 4 emission limits;
does not need low sulphur petrol but is able to use the normal petrol already on sale in Europe and the United States.
The 2.0 JTS thus represents a true technological leap for Alfa Romeo, its first petrol engine with injectors that work directly inside the combustion chamber. It achieves its end by interpreting the principles of stratified charge and the creation of motion in the mixture inside the cylinder in an entirely original way.
Lean burn, but not too lean
The possibility of injecting petrol directly into the combustion chamber instead of the intake duct has been known since Nikolaus Otto (who took out a patent in 1877) and has been applied for two different purposes over the years. On racing cars in the Fifties and Sixties to increase engine power. More recently (since 1996), to reduce fuel consumption.
Recently, manufacturers have devoted all their efforts in this latter direction and gratifying results have been achieved with the stratified charge method. The principle is simple: instead of injecting all the petrol required to maintain the normal air-fuel ratio of 14.7:1 (stoichiometric) throughout the combustion chamber, only a small amount of fuel is injected that mixes with the air to form a core of almost stoichiometric composition about the spark plug. The resulting mixture is stratified or layered because it is richer where the ignition spark ignites and increasingly lean (more air and less fuel) as it approaches the outside of the chamber.
So far the benefits of this lean burn system, usually applied in the rpm band up to 3000 rpm, have amounted to a fuel saving of some 10%. The disadvantages may be summarised as follows:
- a drop in performance when the car is required to deliver full power (because the ducts and pistons are shaped in a certain way that is essential to reduce fuel consumption at low speeds);
- the need to use sulphur-free fuel that is difficult to find in Europe and practically unknown in the US;
- the requirement for costly, delicate exhaust gas treatment methods (DENox) to reduce the higher nitrogen oxide emissions generated by the leaner burn.
It goes without saying that Alfa Romeo’s approach to the new technology had to be quite different. Category-topping performance and irrepressible driving behaviour have always been essential requirements for all Brand models.
But what was to stop us from using direct injection to increase engine power and torque in keeping with the sporty applications of this technology.
Then, we reasoned, we could bring in the stratified charge system to reduce fuel consumption within a restricted rpm band around idle speed.
The result was an entirely original Alfa Romeo approach to applying direct injection in petrol engines. A solution that offered a compromise between the two methods pursued to date. The 2.0 JTS works using a lean burn approach up to around 1500 rpm and this saves fuel, although not as much as on other lean GDIs. Above this rpm, the engine burns a stoichiometric air-fuel mixture, i.e. with a normal 14.7:1 ratio between both components. All this means outstanding performance. Much better than would be obtained using a normal indirect injection petrol unit.
Firstly, because petrol injected directly into the combustion chamber instead of the duct cools intake air to increase the engine’s volumetric efficiency. As temperature drops, the gases increase in density and their volume therefore decreases: this means that more air can be introduced into the combustion chamber.
Power unit susceptibility to knock is also reduced by chamber cooling. It is therefore possible to increase the compression ratio - in this case from 10:1 for the 2.0 T. Spark to 11.3:1 for the 2.0 JTS.
This means more power for the new Alfa Romeo engine that is also able to deliver its power unhindered because the exhaust gas treatment system used on the Alfa Romeo models does not generate the strong counterpressures typical of the Nox absorbers used by lean GDIs.
Direct introduction of petrol into the chamber improves power unit response speed to the accelerator control (it is faster overall than a conventional petrol engine).
Benefits: higher performance and lower fuel consumption
Compared to the current 2.0 T. Spark unit and other currently-available direct injection petrol engines, this 2.0 JTS unit offers slightly lower fuel consumption and a generous increase in power and - above all - torque. + 15 bhp and + 25 Nm. To sum up, the 2.0 JTS develops a maximum power of 165 bhp (121 kW) at 6400 rpm and a maximum torque of 206 Nm (21 kgm) at 3250 rpm. And all this is achieved using petrol currently on sale and current catalytic converters.
A new combustion chamber principle
The new JTS combustion system displays two distinctive features:
- the principle followed to generate the movement that propels the air and fuel mixture toward the spark plug inside the cylinder;
- the range of rotation speeds within which the engine works using a lean burn system.
Let’s take a look at the first point. In other GDI engines, the air’s force drags the fuel spray into the area where the ignition spark ignites. This option is determined by a desire to achieve a very lean mixture (up to 60:1) and thus noteworthy fuel savings. But it brings a need to change the air’s motion within the combustion chamber (charge motion) according to rpm level and this complicates the air input mechanisms (throttles, duct closure systems etc.).
On the 2.0 JTS, however, the force of the fuel spray (Jet Thrust) propels the fuel toward the spark plug as it mixes with the air. In this way, we achieve a charge that is less lean overall (the ratio remains constant at all speeds and is 25:1) and less fuel is consequently saved. But the engine’s internal mechanism is far less complicated because it lacks systems for altering the air’s motion.
The same process of simplification also guarantees the limitation of lean burn technology to rpm levels around idle speed (up to 1500 rpm). GDI engines that use stratified charge within a broader speed band (up to 3000 rpm) must employ modified piston and duct profiles. The resulting shape does not allow power to be optimised at high speeds.
The use of stratified charge only up to 1500 rpm, however, means that the pistons and ducts on the Alfa Romeo 2.0 JTS are hardly altered. Because their shape is more similar to those of current indirect injection engines, they are able to exploit all available power at high speeds.
Because the lean burn range has been extended up to 3000 rpm, the system requires the addition of an exhaust gas treatment system (Nox absorber) to eliminate the nitrogen oxides. Sulphur-free petrol must also be used because this is the only type that does not damage the catalytic converter.
The use of stratified charge only at speeds around idle speed, however, allows the 2.0 JTS unit to use a conventional catalytic converter system. This result is also made possible by a more extensive use of exhaust gas recirculation, which reduces the production of nitrogen oxides (NOx). Because Alfa Romeo engines are fitted with variable valve timing, exhaust gas is recirculated to the intake on the 2.0 JTS directly between the intake and exhaust valves (internal EGR).
Engineering: what changes
The main engineering changes on the 2.0 JTS compared to the corresponding Twin Spark engine affect the cylinder head (with Bosch injectors fitted in the chamber), pistons, camshafts and exhaust system. All these components are completely new.
The intake ports are high performance; the fuel manifold is high pressure (Common Rail type); piston compression ratio is higher - and the exhaust - built to Euro 4 standards - is cascade type.
The exhaust gas treatment system works conventionally despite an unconventional layout: the system no longer consists of a preconverter and a main converter, both located under the body. Instead it comprises two main catalytic converters built into the manifold (each connected to a double branch that leads to two cylinders). This frees up the space under the body for a silencer that is more permeable and thus more able to reduce counterpressure for fuller engine power delivery.
110 kW (150 bhp) 1.9 M-Jet 16v
At the end of 2002, Alfa Romeo introduced its 140 bhp 1.9 M-Jet 16v , the first of the second generation of Common Rail engines anywhere in the world. The engine was adopted on the Alfa 147, 156 and Sportwagon with a sporty six-speed manual gearbox and has now been further developed for the Alfa GT, offering a power output of 150 bhp.
The unit is a 4 cylinder in line engine with a bore of 82 millimetres and a stroke of 90.4 mm, capable of delivering a power output of 110 kW at 4000 rpm and a torque of 305 Nm (31 kgm) at 2000 rpm.
The new turbodiesel has undergone several engineering changes to increase performance and engine torque at low speeds and to reduce noise and vibration levels. For example, the Common Rail system used on the 1.9 M-Jet 16v includes two new strategies for automatically calibrating and balancing the diesel injected to lower noise and reduce vibration.
It goes without saying that the Alfa GT guarantees extremely attractive performance figures: the top speed is 209 km/h and acceleration from 0 - 100 km/h takes place in 9.6 seconds. All this comes with very frugal fuel consumption. The new sports coupé offers:
- .6.7 l/100 km over a combined cycle;
- 5.4 l/100 km over an extra-urban cycle;
- 8.7 l/100 km over an urban cycle.
The M-Jet system, secret of second generation JTD engines
The underlying principles of second generation turbodiesel engines remain the same, i.e. high injection pressure and electronic injector control. With one extra feature: during each engine cycle, the number of injections increases over and above the current number of two. In this way, the same amount of diesel is burnt inside the cylinder but in several portions to achieve smoother combustion.
The advantages include lower running noise, reduced emissions and a 6-7% increase in performance. All this comes with a level of engine efficiency that improves car handling still further.
These results are not to be underestimated, particularly because they are obtained with an engine that represents an incredible leap forward from prechamber diesels and even improves on first generation JTD engines.
The secret of the M-Jet lies in the control unit that governs the electric injector opening and closure system (and also in the injectors themselves). The crucial element is the electronic control unit itself that can perform a set of injections that may be very closely spaced. Fiat Auto’s researchers developed the part (together with the injectors) especially for this application. It is designed to deliver the multiple injections that assure the designer more accurate control of pressures and temperatures developed inside the combustion chamber and also more efficient use of air taken into the cylinders.
This enables further goals to be achieved: quieter combustion reduced emissions and increased performance.
The M-Jet system is underpinned by long years of research. Our engineers began by resolving the problem of limits imposed by the control units. Then they went on to map the benefits they could achieve by plotting different multiple injection sequences (two secondary injections very close to the main injection; one secondary injection not too close to the main injection plus two closely-spaced secondary injections; one secondary injection and then two main injections close together after a certain period etc.) against different engine service conditions: in the idling region; with low loads and low rpm; with high rpm and moderate load; with low rpm and high load etc.
The study revealed the potential of the system and showed that great benefits are achievable in all cases, though these tend to focus on one field or another according to the type of sequence chosen and the engine service area targeted. In some cases, for example, the priority is to reduce start-up times and fume levels, in other cases it is to increase torque and reduce noise while in others it is to reduce emissions and ensure a quieter drive.
And now this research strand has led to the creation of M-Jet engines: another first for the Fiat Group in the diesel engine field. But we had been putting in a lot of hard work behind the scenes since 1986, the date that marked the arrival of the Croma TDI, the first direct injection diesel vehicle in the world.
At that time, this represented a true engineering breakthrough that was later adopted by other manufacturers. Direct diesel injection engines offered better performance and lower fuel consumption but failed to resolve the problem of excessive engine noise at low rpms and while speeding up or slowing down. So work began on a more advanced direct injection system and a few years later this led to the development of the Common Rail principle and the Unijet system.
The idea first came from the Zurich University research laboratories where scientists were working on an injection system that had never before been applied to a vehicle, i.e. the Common Rail system. The idea is simple yet revolutionary. If you continue to push diesel into a tank, the pressure inside will rise and the tank itself will become a hydraulic accumulator (or rail), i.e. a reserve of pressurised fuel ready for use.
Three years later, in 1990, the Unijet system developed by Magneti Marelli, Fiat Research Centre and Elasis on the Common Rail principle entered the pre-production stage. This stage was completed in 1994, when Fiat Auto started to look for a partner with superlative knowledge of diesel engine injection systems. The final stage of the project, i.e. completion of development and industrial production, was eventually entrusted to Robert Bosch.
Now our story has reached 1997 and the launch date of the Alfa 156 JTD with its revolutionary turbodiesel engine. Compared to conventional diesel power units, the JTD guarantees an average improvement in performance of 12% together with a 15% reduction in fuel consumption. These results meant that cars fitted with the engine were an immediate hit.
Now the time is ripe for the second generation of JTD engines, the M-Jet and multivalve units: in 2002 with the 1.9 M-Jet 16v (forerunner of this new family of multipoint injection engines) in 2003 with the 1.9 upgraded to 150 bhp for the Alfa GT and the 129 kW (175 bhp) 2.4 JTD Multijet 20v available on Alfa 166, Alfa 156 and Sportwagon models.
The Alfa GT borrows the Alfa 156’s suspension layout and adds settings specific to the new model: high double-wishbone at the front, McPherson at the back with transverse rods of different lengths.
The choice of a double wishbone layout for the front suspension meets a specific aim: to achieve maximum lateral hold, a highly effective and precise steering response, excellent traction - and then wed all these specifications with an ability to absorb and dampen road surface roughness typical of the most comfortable cars in the segment. The double wishbone layout allows high longitudinal flexibility to be achieved on the wheel side without impairing roadholding on corners and steering dynamics.
The car’s on-road behaviour is aided by a rear suspension able to give the model the greatest stability during high speed manoeuvres and all the agility required of a true sports car over tight mixed routes. Hence the choice of a MacPherson suspension featuring asymmetrical arms and refined elastokinetic properties. On the Alfa GT, the rear suspension is connected to the chassis by a crossmember made up of vacuum cast aluminium. The benefits of the MacPherson strut layout include low weight, great comfort (assured by extensive wheel travels and longitudinal flexibility) and numerous ride control options.
The front and rear suspension layout also allows the various joints, including the steering arm joints, to yield in a calibrated manner without this affecting driving precision. The set of features adopted allowed us to achieve the very highest level results in terms of insulating out all noise and absorbing the minor roughness that usually gives rise to annoying knocking sounds reverberating from the body.
The high double wishbone front suspension is the most advanced layout, geometrically speaking, because it reconciles a wide range of wheel travel with optimum control of tyre working conditions. This is the outcome of a combined study performed by the Fiat Research Centre and Alfa Romeo Design and Testing.
From a structural viewpoint, the double wishbone configuration consists of a lower cast iron arm, a steel strut and an upper arm in light ally. The coaxial spring-damper unit is connected to the body via a flexible mount and to the lower arm via a fork in light alloy. For reasons of space and structural stiffness, the upper arm is jointed to an aluminium shell (anchored to the body), which acts as a support to the upper spring-shock absorber attachment.
Suspension geometry is designed to ensure that wheel camber is taken up during rolling and steering movements, maintaining a constant offset (distance between the centre of the tyre contact area on the ground and the point at which the steering axis intersects with the ground), regardless of load conditions.
The specific position of the upper wishbone (with its axis of rotation tilting forward) allows the king pin angle to be controlled under all driving conditions, even the most critical. As a result, the front wheels maintain optimum grip even when steered strongly and the effort required at the steering wheel is more gradual.
All this brings major benefits in terms of handling and on-road behaviour.
- optimised tyre grip;
- maximum roadholding on bends, whatever the load conditions;
- improved traction even under the most difficult conditions;
- precise, sensitive steering even when taking narrow, twisting bends;
- gradual effort on the steering wheel, which increases uniformly up to the grip limit;
- high anti-dive effect (i.e. the front end is prevented from dipping while braking) and anti-lift effect (the front end does not lift during acceleration);
- cancelling of reactions at the wheel when one of the two wheels loses grip;
- natural return of the steering wheel when the car emerges from the bend, with immediate realignment.
The rear suspension features a MacPherson configuration with particularly advanced geometry and constructional details. The basic structure includes a vertical telescopic element with a coaxial spring, two long transverse rods and a longitudinal strut. The telescopic strut incorporates a pressurised double-acting damper and the coil spring is greatly offset to reduce friction. The end travel buffer cuts in at the final stage of suspension travel and is made out of a special closed cell polyurethane material (known as cellasto) that ensures very gradual elastic action that remains absolutely constant in time. Both transverse arms are pressed out of high strength sheet steel and are of different lengths for a small induced elastokinetic steering effect. Toe-in is adjusted by means of a cam system on the rear arm.
This replaces the conventional screw system, offering benefits in terms of weight and ease of servicing. Both transverse arms and the antiroll bar mounts are secured to a light alloy structure made by vacuum casting. This feature allows a weight reduction of about 1.8 kg compared to a conventional crossmember in steel.
Special attention was devoted to the system for connecting the suspension to the structure to ensure the greatest geometrical precision and minimal transmission of noise and vibration. All the body attachments are very solid and come with special features such as a shell for the front shock absorber unit. On the rear strut, the shock absorber fastening is separate from the spring support.
To absorb minor roughness more effectively, friction has also been reduced through the use of bushes with dynamic flow slide action on the front upper triangle and rear longitudinal strut attachments and Teflon seals for the shock absorber rods.
Cutting edge technology for the greatest safety
The most sophisticated devices currently on the market allow maximum protection for driver and passengers. This is what the new Alfa GT promises (and delivers). In the preventive safety field, the new model offers xenon headlights while its active safety complement includes VDC with Brake Assist for total control of car dynamic stability under all conditions. As far as passive safety is concerned, the Alfa GT offers up to six airbags: two front airbags, two front sidebags and two window bags.
To ensure the Alfa GT offers the greatest passive safety, the Fiat Auto Safety Centre engineers examined all possible types of accident (frontal impact, side impact, roll-over, shunting and fire), taking into account the various speeds at which impact may occur, the different types of obstacle and the need to protect occupants with very different physical characteristics. The result: the new model is one of the safest cars in its entire segment.
VDC with Brake Assist
To ensure absolute mastery of the car under all conditions, however extreme, the entire Alfa GT range is fitted as standard with VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) with an emergency brake assist device.
This is the Alfa Romeo version of the ESP (Electronic Stability Program). This innovative device cuts in under extreme conditions when car stability is at risk and also helps the driver control the car. As befits a true Alfa, the VDC is a sporting device that allows outstanding roadholding. It enables the driver to enjoy total mastery of the vehicle while conditions are normal, cutting in only as the situation becomes critical.
The VDC is permanently engaged.
The MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung) cuts in when the gear is shifted down abruptly in low grip conditions. This device restores torque to the engine to prevent the wheel skidding as a result of lock.
To achieve this result, the VDC continually monitors tyre grip in both longitudinal and lateral directions. If the car skids, it cuts in to restore directionality and ride stability. It uses sensors to detect rotation of the car body about its vertical axis (yaw speed), car lateral acceleration and the steering wheel angle set by the driver (which indicates the chosen direction). It then goes on to compare these data with parameters generated by a computer and establishes - via a complex mathematical model - whether the car is cornering within its grip limits or if the front or rear is about to skid (understeer or oversteer).
To restore the correct trajectory, it then generates a yawing movement in the opposite direction to the movement that gave rise to the instability by braking the appropriate wheel (interior or exterior) individually and reducing engine power (via the throttle). This is the key attribute of the device designed by Alfa Romeo engineers. It acts in a modulated fashion on the brakes to ensure the action is as smooth as possible (and the drive is not therefore disturbed). The engine power reduction is restrained to ensure outstanding performance and great driving satisfaction at all times.
As it carries out its complex task, the VDC stays in constant communication with the brake sensors and engine control unit but also with:
- a Body computer that constantly exchanges information with the ABS, engine management unit and automatic transmission unit;
- an electronic throttle (that communicates with the ABS in turn);
- a control panel (active warning lights);
- the steering wheel and steering column (via the steering sensor);
- a gyroscopic sensor installed on the passenger compartment floor to record car yaw and lateral acceleration.
The VDC fitted to the Alfa GT also comes with an emergency brake assist device. The function is carried out electronically by the ABS control unit and is referred to as HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assistance). In emergency braking situations, most drivers recognise a situation of danger and press the brake pedal very quickly. But not, however, with sufficient force. This is because people, unless they are professional drivers, are used to applying a certain load to the brake pedal. Because people tend to switch to autopilot mode when they carry out repetitive actions, the same level of force tends to be applied in all circumstances.
On the Alfa GT, however, the Brake Assist device cuts in at this point. Although the pressure on the pedal is unchanged, the car is decelerated by the same amount as it would be if it were braked with all the necessary force. And there is more. Panic brake assist devices can even help experienced drivers who brake quickly and apply the correct amount of force in emergencies. This is because the system reduces braking attenuation time in all cases, i.e. the period between the time when pressure begins to be applied to the pedal and the moment when the circuit reaches maximum pressure and is able to offer maximum performance.
Front airbags, front sidebags and window-bags
All versions of the Alfa GT offer no fewer than six airbags, all as standard. Firstly the front airbags: for the driver (with capacity of 42 litres) and passenger (90 litres). Their operation is controlled by an electronic control unit on the tunnel that evaluates impact severity by means of sensors that are calibrated by conducting crash tests in the laboratory. Less time than the blink of an eye elapses between a crash and the airbag opening. The gas used to fill the bags is inert, non-toxic argon. The airbags are also made out of nylon 6/6, a permeable material that allows the bag to deflate in a few tenths of a second after impact to minimise skin abrasions. Bag structure is innovative: it is folded in a special way and equipped with two cloth strips that yield gradually to allow the bag to unfold more gradually and not directly toward the occupant.
The system comes with a diagnostic circuit for checking components electronically. The components are tested by a processor that monitors their operation continuously. The airbags will not be activated by low speed accidents (for example, a slight shunt or a bump while parking) or by stresses that are not due to impact (e.g. driving fast over a pothole).
The passenger front airbag may be deactivated manually by operating a switch on the end of the facia with the ignition key. This means a baby can be carried on a baby seat facing in the opposite direction to the car’s motion (the pretensioner remains active). The Alfa GT is fitted with two sidebags to protect the pelvis and chest of front seat passengers when the car is struck from the side. They are located inside the front seat squabs. This solution ensures the best possible protection for passengers regardless of their stature, sitting position or seat setting. For geometrical reasons, it is also possible to use a 12 litre airbag: this volume is lower than an airbag housed in the door would require to offer the same protection. The sensors controlling activation of these airbags are located in the central pillars. If an accident occurs, they receive a side acceleration signal and send it to the electronic control unit that is also responsible for operating the front airbags and seat-belt pretensioners. All systems are managed in an integral manner in accordance with a strategy of total, progressive occupant safety.
The Alfa GT is also fitted with window-bags that drop down along the windows to safeguard the passengers’ heads in the case of side impact. Compared to other solutions, the window-bags adopted on the Alfa GT are more protective (because they always take up the correct position), faster to inflate and less invasive for passengers. They open from top to bottom and do not involve a risk of secondary damage to occupants’ arms. They also effectively safeguard the heads of front and rear passengers because they extend along the entire width of the window and ensure protection even during rollover.
Two bags (one on the right and the other on the left) are located under the roof rails where they are folded into a closed compartment. At the appropriate moment, the covering bends open to allow the bags to expand and drop downward.
The toughest tests for total protection
The Alfa GT has passed all the tests conducted to the toughest European, US and Japanese standards: frontal impact ECE R 94 against a deformable barrier offset in relation to the vehicle axis (at 56 km/h); side impact ECE R 95 against a deformable barrier at 50 km/h; rear impact to ECE 32/34 standards (shunting at 35-38 km/h) and the Japanese TRIAS 33 test (shunting at 50 km/h). The new car has also undergone the simulated tests required for the Euro NCAP programme: frontal impact at 64 km/h against a deformable barrier offset at 40%; side impact at 50 km/h against a deformable barrier, and side impact at 29 km/h against a pole. The Alfa GT also performed very respectably in the Insurer’s crash test that measures the likelihood that the car will suffer damage as a result of low speed accidents. In many European markets (particularly in Germany and Great Britain), the insurance premium varies according to the class attributed to the car by insurance category associations. This judgement is based on average repair cost and statistical frequency of claims.
The Alfa GT therefore represents the state of the art in the field of passive safety systems. This has been achieved by equipping the new sports coupé with all the most sophisticated devices currently available. These include: side impact bars in the doors, collapsible steering column, six airbags (described in the previous paragraph), seat-belts with pretensioners and load limiters and, on the central rear seat, a third head-restraint and seat-belt with reel.
On the Alfa GT, the front and rear seat structure is designed to prevent ’antisubmarining’: in other words, rigid transverse elements beneath the cushion prevent occupants from slipping under the seat-belt in the case of accident. The load-bearing properties of the padding foam are also differential to give the correct support to different body parts, offer maximum comfort and assure good lateral and longitudinal containment even over twisty routes.
The Alfa GT is also fitted as standard with head-restraints at the front that can be tilted and adjusted for height and at the rear, including a third rear head-restraint combined with a belt. The new sports coupé is also equipped with an inertia reel seat-belt, pretensioner and load limiter. In case of impact, an electronically-controlled pyrotechnic pretensioner rewinds the belt within a few milliseconds so that it fits snugly to the body. The front reels contain load limiters that yield in a controlled manner to modulate the force exercised on the shoulders of the belt wearer.
All these devices, including the airbags, are governed by a sophisticated nervous system that is controlled by an electronic control unit located in the front tunnel. This control unit receives signals from the various sensors distributed throughout the car (and others inside) and decides how many devices should be activated and which ones. This is why the system is said to be ’smart’. It does not activate when the occupant is in no danger of striking the car walls regardless of whether an impact has taken place or not. It detects stresses that are not caused by an impact. It will even work if the electrical system stops working.
All this is made possible by particularly sophisticated operating strategies and detection terminals. Such as two-way accelerometers that provide a set of information that complements signals from satellite sensors on the central panels (responsible for activating the sidebags and window-bags).
The Alfa GT steering column structure is also telescopic to safeguard the driver against the steering wheel intruding into the passenger compartment (in case of frontal impact, particularly at high speed). The steering column is divided into two segments, the lower part consists of a collapsible sleeve that holds the steering wheel position steady at the moment of impact. The upper segment slides (for axial adjustment) and swings (for vertical adjustment).
Not to mention the outstanding torsional rigidity of the body that is an essential requirement for safety and travelling comfort. The result achieved by the Alfa GT is more than 100,000 daNm/rad, one of the best in its segment. Many aspects contributed to this outcome and also allowed us to turn the passenger compartment of the new model into a veritable survival cell. Examples include rails that crumple in a controlled fashion to absorb impact energy, and doors with side impact bars and reinforcements on the central pillar and belt for greater protection against side impact. Plus front struts linked to the side panel by connecting elements that also help absorb frontal energy. Reinforced front hinges also offer high levels of resistance against crushing. Other strengthened parts include the connection between suspension and dashboard and the windscreen pillars that help make the passenger compartment more rigid side to side and ensure it is joined to the side panels at waist height.
Last but not least, the Alfa GT is also fitted with a Fire Prevention System. This is the most up-to-date and sophisticated solution for protecting a car against possible fire risks. The main system components include an inertia switch that immediately locks the electric pump in petrol-driven cars and the supply solenoid in diesel cars following crashes of a certain entity. This brings about a pressure drop in the fuel ducts to prevent fuel emerging. On petrol versions, a cut-off value is also fitted after the tank. This prevents fuel loss in the case of impact, roll-over or damage to the fuel lines. The fuel tank is made out of plastic material resistant to mechanical stress and fire. It is located in a protected position in front of the rear axle.
All electrical equipment power leads are fitted with maxifuses: devices that cut off the power supply when the temperature becomes too high. Connection leads to the starter motor and alternator are covered with an abrasion-proof coating and located in protected areas. Special care has also been taken over the arrangement of components and units (engine bay, electrical system, fuel system and brakes) that could become damaged by a fault or accident. The interior trim is fire resistant (with a flame propagation rate less than 100 mm/min) and meets tough US flame retardant standards.
Preventive safety requires outstanding visibility, even at night and in tunnels. The Alfa GT may therefore be optionally equipped with xenon headlights that offer an improved light emission quality and excellent performance in all weathers. In a gas discharge bulb, the usual internal filament is replaced by two electrodes spaced a few millimetres apart. These generate a voltaic discharge in an environment saturated with low-pressure xenon gas.
The benefits over normal halogen headlights are easy to enumerate: light intensity doubles (from 1500 to 3000 lumens); efficiency increases from 25 to 85 lumen per Watt and hours of duration also increase (from 1500 to 3000). Xenon headlights also consume less energy and distribute the light beam more effectively.
Because they emit a shade that is closer to white light, they also ensure improved visibility even though the level of illumination remains the same. Due to the improved performance offered by the system (brighter, more far-reaching light), xenon headlights are combined with an automatic ride corrector to prevent the headlights dazzling oncoming vehicles and keep the lit area constant for improved driving comfort.
The device cuts in automatically to compensate for static car changes (due to changing load on the axles) and also dynamic changes (caused by acceleration and braking). This result is guaranteed by sensors on the front and rear suspension that continually read body movements to detect acceleration or braking movements. This allows yawing to be predicted so that ride control can cut in.