Against the stopwatch, the GTA delivers. The clocks stopped at 6.3 sec. for the 0-to-60-mph dash, and top speed is 155 mph. In the real world, this car is as quick as you would want to go in a front-wheel-driver.

The Alfa Romeo 156 GTA faces stiff competition from the BMW 325i Sport and the Audi A4 3.0 quattro, which sell for similar money. The Alfa is quicker than its rivals and far more inspirational than the competent and beautifully built, but rather anodyne, Audi. Even the BMW, quintessential rear-wheel-driver, struggles to match the Alfa for motor music and sheer fun factor. The latest Alfas are well-made and potentially reliable, so you can now make a choice with your head as well as your heart. However, once you have driven it, the GTA tugs at your heartstrings very strongly indeed. You have been warned.

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