The Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm is a car that is more about the past than it is about the future. It’s a gas-burning, fender-flared winged beast of a sports sedan whose origins can be traced back to the 1960s.
Back then, Alfa’s racing engineers slimmed down the weight of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT, upgraded its engine considerably, and anointed their creation the Giulia GTA. One of the most successful touring cars of its time, the GTA had everyday life and checkered-flag greatness baked in.
Alfa Romeo engineers recently applied the spirit of that GTA, which stands for Gran Turismo Alleggerita, the final word meaning lightened in Italian, to the Giulia Quadrifoglio. The GTA cut a claimed 220 pounds while adding various aerodynamic aids. To drop the pounds, the doors are aluminum and the drive shaft, hood, roof, front bumpers, and wheel-arch extensions at the front and rear are carbon fiber. New engine electronics, higher boost pressure, and an Akrapovic titanium exhaust system tickled out 533 horsepower from the twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6, 28 horses more than the standard Quadrifoglio. Only 500 of the Giulia GTA will be made, and included in that short run is the even more extreme GTAm, a race-ready and street-legal version that ditches its rear seat to shed another 55 pounds compared to the GTA.
In place of the GTAm’s back seat is a roll cage, helmet rack, and fire extinguisher. The rear windows are made of lightweight polycarbonate. The carbon-fiber racing bucket seats only move fore and aft, but there’s plenty of Alcantara trim and carbon-fiber bits to take in. Fabric loops replace the interior door handles, a very Porsche touch.
Our test car offers a choice between a full harness and a three-point seatbelt. On the street we reach for the regular belts. Like a Ferrari, the GTAm engine starts with the push of a steering-wheel-mounted start button. The V-6 engine roars, much more aggressively than in the Quadrifoglio, before falling to a stable idle. Pedestrian heads swivel, other drivers glance into their rearview mirror in response to the new exhaust system that ends in the center of the carbon-fiber diffuser. A conversation with your passenger is pretty much impossible. Companionship in this car is about the GTAm and the driver, not another person. It makes us wonder if the weight savings actually came from completely removing all of the sound insulation.
The claimed weight reduction would put the GTAm at about 3600 pounds, comparing to previous Giulia Quadrifoglios we’ve tested with our own scales, and the twin-turbo six pushes it forward like hell. Alfa says the launch-control programming for the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission will call up 60 mph 0.2 second quicker than in the Giulia Quadrifoglio, which would put the GTAm at 3.3 seconds.
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires (265/30R-20 front and 285/30R-20 rear) practically weld the GTAm to the asphalt. Alfa boasts that the GTA and GTAm are the only production sedans in the world to wear wheels with center-lock hubs. The inch-wider track at the front and nearly two inches wider at the rear helps ensure outstanding directional and cornering stability. Stiffer springs, shock absorbers, and suspension bushings contribute to a coarse and firm but still acceptable ride. The sharp steering is a delight and allows extreme precision in corners, which the GTAm negotiates with unerring ease and without a whiff of body roll. Select the Race driving mode and the rear end will playfully step wide when accelerating hard out of corners. Switch off stability control entirely and the GTAm will go into entertaining drifts that are easy to control.
At higher speeds, drivers can safely rely on the aerodynamic improvements on the GTAm. Alfa Romeo’s Formula 1 partner, Sauber, developed the parts in the wind tunnel, and Kimi Räikkönen from Alfa F1 Team Orlen fine-tuned them. The changes increase the downforce of the significantly lightened body and foster high-speed stability. The larger and manually adjustable front splitter on the GTAm and the huge rear wing—both made of carbon fiber—are not just to distinguish it from the GTA.
Despite its racetrack prowess, the four-door two-seater Giulia GTAm can justifiably be considered workable for the street provided you can accept its shortcomings in refinement. The upside is a car that challenges and rewards a commitment to driving.
Despite being inspired by times that are long behind us, the Giulia GTAm is a fully modern piece down to its infotainment system. An 8.8-inch touchscreen controls includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The usual driver aids are present, including attention assist, but if you’re not paying attention while driving this car, you probably shouldn’t be on the road.
Bring money. The GTAm starts at roughly $225,000 in Europe with the slightly less-extreme GTA costing $6000 less. Extras like a fireproof racing suit, a helmet with a GTA design, gloves, racing shoes, and a car cover help make up for the painfully high price, but not really. That’s a pretty tough sell against a Porsche 911 GT3. Then again, we don’t have the choice, as it’s only available in Europe.
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