turbodelta Erster Beitrag: 8. Mai 2003 Letzter Beitrag: 12. Mai 2003 If you are familiar with the regular Alfa 147 and the 156GTA, you can easily see that the new 147 GTA is nearly a hatchback version of 156 GTA with shorter wheelbase. To create the fastest 147, Alfa Romeo simply transplanted the 250-horsepower 3.2-litre V6, 6-speed gearbox, suspensions (with wider track, lowered, revised geometry and spring / dampers), quick-ratio steering rack, Brembo brakes and 17-inch fat rubber from the 156 GTA to the 147. It becomes 147 GTA, may I say, the best overall performance hatchback currently on sale. Some people may criticize that it carries over the flaws of 156 GTA, namely, poor ride quality on bumpy roads. Forget that, because in the whole world only British journalists complained about that. Roads on the European mainland seemed work perfectly for the GTA, no matter 156 and 147. Anyway, to calm down the British, Alfa softened the damping slightly, making the 147 GTA more compliant than its bigger brother. Now it rides better than 2 of its main rivals - Volkswagen Golf R32 and Ford Focus RS, especially the latter. Compare with these two rivals, you can easily see the advantage of the Alfa. Firstly, the famous Alfa V6 is not only powerful (10hp more than Volkswagen and 35hp more than the Ford), it looks beautiful and makes the best music. Although not as torquey as Volkswagen’s V6 of the same capacity - due to the lack of variable manifolds and variable valve timing, the Alfa V6 loves to rev to its 6900rpm cut-out and always encourage you to squeeze power out of it, by its sharp throttle response, by its free-revving manner and by its lovely mechanical sound. The best engine is always the one engage you, not necessarily the one delivering the highest efficiency. 147 GTA is an all-rounder. Unlike Golf R32, it delivers function without forgetting desirability. The engine is one example. The smooth-shifting 6-speed manual gearbox is way better than Golf’s clonky unit. And undoubtedly, the 147 body looks far more beautiful than the boxy Golf. Both cars got aggressive bumpers and wider tracks to aid visual appeal, but I suppose the standard 5-ring alloy wheels of Alfa Romeo are the sexier ones. Inside, seeing the Ferrari-style leather bucket seats and the high-quality-yet-beautifully-styled dashboard, you won’t look at the Golf anymore. Alfa knows so well about desirability. Compare with Focus RS, you will find it has better balance between performance and drivability. The Focus might have strong mid-range torque, but it is still a turbocharged engine with four-cylinder. There is no comparison with the throttle response and linear delivery of a normally-aspirated 3.2-litre V6, let alone smoothness and sound quality. At low rev, 147 GTA storms pass the Focus easily. Even at maximum boost, the Focus fails to run away from the Alfa. Turn into corners, on any roads other than glass-smooth ones, the Focus can easily suffer from bump steer and crashy ride. The Alfa has a very good manner. It steers accurately, has tremendous grip and good stability. In extreme case, the VDC stability control (156 GTA does not have this) will correct under or oversteer. Don’t worry, this system only intervenes at very extreme conditions. Its braking is nearly as strong as the Focus RS, which is still class-leading. The only criticism about the 147 GTA is the lack of steering feel at low speed. This is probably the trade-off to improved ride quality, as we notice 156 GTA is better in this respect. However, the feel improves as speed increase. British journalists still criticize its ride quality, but it seems totally unfair because even themselves admit their beloved Focus RS has much harsher ride. To be fair, I would say Alfa Romeo 147 GTA beats both Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R32 as the best performance hot hatch. It is still some way from the mighty Lancer Evo, but it is also considerably cheaper.