GTA…Gran Turismo Alleggerita…a name, an acronym that has become a legend. Born in the 1960s, exactly in 1965, the initials GTA appears for the first time alongside the name of the Giulia Sprint. Initials created to identify a project dedicated to racing, wanted by Alfa Romeo who commissioned the Autodelta of engineer Carlo Chiti to develop a racing car starting from the base of the Giulia Sprint GT, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro for Bertone. The Giulia Sprint was revised in all its parts: the bodywork was almost completely replaced by aluminum and magnesium panels, all the superfluous was eliminated, reaching a weight of only 750 kg, far below the standard 950. Hence the name of “Alleggerita". The engine was also completely reworked, bringing it from the original 115 horsepower to almost 170. A real race bomb, prepared in this way, the Giulia triumphed in many categories and for many years helping to elect the GTA acronym to Legend. We find this acronym many years later alongside the name of the 156, a sedan born in 1997 and which enjoyed considerable success redeeming a little what the previous 155 did not have. The Alfa Romeo 155 was in fact the first car produced after the transfer of ownership to FIAT, the classic rear-wheel drive scheme and Transaxle (the last was the 75) were abandoned to switch to front-wheel drive, typical of FIAT cars. It was not well seen by the purest Alfisti and in fact it was not very successful. The 156, on the other hand, was immediately appreciated by lovers of the Milanese brand and also the numerous sales testified to the goodness of the project, which also won several design awards.
The Alfisti in fact rediscovered the feeling and driving dynamics that have always characterized the cars of the Milan company. The top version of the 156 was the 156 GTA, also produced in a sportwagon version and on the market since 2001, fitted with the famous V6 Busso engine brought to its maximum evolution 3.2 liters and 250 horsepower. The car remains front-wheel drive but nevertheless has a dynamics and driving pleasure reminiscent of the Alfa Romeo of yesteryear. Very fast and fun, its ideal terrain could be some nice panoramic country road with some curves, even if it does not get along badly even on the track, where the V6 Busso manages to give strong emotions. Personally, although the sportwagon version is very interesting, I prefer the sedan variant. Stylistically speaking, it has a more streamlined and sporty line as well as looking more compact. The special guest of the occasion is an Alfa Romeo 147 GTA, we could define it as the "short" variant of the 156, it has the same engine and front-wheel drive but the driving dynamics changes radically: the large cantilevered V6 (beyond the front wheel axis ) and the small size of the car make it unbalanced and nervous. Weight distribution is not optimal.
The 156 GTA is distinguished from a normal 156 externally by dedicated spoilers and skirts, by air intakes that are actually only aesthetic and not functional, 18-inch wheels and sports trim. Internally the seats are entirely in leather, they were also available in the two-tone variant, leather inserts also in the doors, sports three-spoke steering wheel, manual gearbox. The 156 GTA could also be ordered with the Selespeed robotic gearbox developed by Magneti Marelli, it was a sporty, technologically advanced gearbox and allowed very fast gear changes depending on the driving style. The two cars of the photo shoot are in Alfa Red and Jarama Black. The 156 also has a very respectable sporting history, from 2000 to 2006 it participated in the European Touring Car Championship and the World Touring Car Championship, winning several titles, even consecutively, proving to be a reliable, fast and adaptable car to the different needs of championships and regulations.
More than twenty years after its debut, the lines of the 156 still remain current and modern, thanks also to the intuition and creative flair of Walter De Silva, the Alfa Romeo designer of the time, who radically changed the image of Alfa models, bringing them back to auge by winning important international awards such as "Car of the Year”. He was also the father of the 147, which was also awarded the "Car of the Year" award and coincidentally both of them are the protagonists of this small comparison that we have told you about in this article.