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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For The GTV is a stylish, affordable potential future classic - a good example is an enthralling car

Against Sadly, it's not very reliable, repairs will be costly, and rust takes hold on older models

Verdict Buy it because it’ll make you happy, but don’t expect faithfulness or cheapness

Go for… 2.0 Lusso

Avoid… 3.0 V6 Lusso

Alfa Romeo GTV Coupe
  • 1. Rear suspension bushes wear, and if their clonking is ignored, linkages and arms can be damaged
  • 2. Cambelt changes are needed every 36,000 miles or every three years, although the service book says 72,000 miles/six years
  • 3. Check the tyre pressures, as the alloy wheels can become porous, allowing air to escape
  • 4. Look out for rust in the rear wheelarches and where the rear window meets the bodywork
  • 5. Only buy a car with good interior trim - seats are expensive to fix if frayed or torn
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Alfa Romeo GTV Coupe full review with expert trade views

The Alfa Romeo GTV is a tin-top sports car that looks and sounds great. Older cars are cheap enough to be bargains, but beware costly insurance and repair bills to make you weep. A thriving owners' club offers advice and recommends specialist garages. The cars are quite rare, so you’ll need to be patient to secure a good one.

The quick steering and raspy engines are enticing, but GTVs ride harshly and worn parts can make them feel vague and unpleasant to drive. If they're properly maintained, though, they are loads of fun.

The cabin looks cheap, although Alfa improved it in 2003, and rattles are to be expected in time, while the seats get shabby unless you buy a Lusso model, which has a leather interior. Space isn’t generous, so you’ll need to be agile to get in and out neatly, and the rear seats are only roomy enough for children or bags. The boot space is tight, too.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Low demand for early models, ’03 on 2.0 Lusso most appealing

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The engine choice is between a four-cylinder 150bhp 2.0 and a 218bhp 3.0 V6, but the smaller engine is more common, and is our recommendation.

The 3.0 sounds great and is very quick, but the chassis struggles to handle the power. The 2.0, on the other hand, doesn't expose the car's limitations and, since it is the same engine you’ll find in the 156 and umpteen other Alfas, spare parts will be easier and cheaper to obtain.

There are just two trims, Turismo and Lusso. Both have twin front airbags, anti-lock brakes, air-con and alloy wheels. All have manual gearboxes, but Lusso models are worth hunting down for their leather seats.

Plenty of buyers imported GTVs from 1999-2002, when cars from abroad were far cheaper than cars from UK dealers. Check if you buy one of these, though, that it is as well equipped. If it isn’t, it will be hard to resell later at its full value.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Poor reliability, high failure rates and above average repair costs

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

The oldest GTVs are cheap to buy, but they will need major work to keep them going. They will also probably be rusty, and so we wouldn’t recommend them. Buying the newest and the best you can find pays in the long term, but even on these, you need to check their condition and service history.

None will be cheap to insure, although the 2.0 models fall into group 16, saving a heap on the 3.0’s group 19. Annual servicing is expensive, and it’s also wise to change the engine’s cambelt every three years or 36,000 miles. Spares are reasonably priced for this type of car, and using one of the many non-franchised specialist garages will save on what main dealers charge.

Official fuel economy figures promise up to 30mpg for the 2.0 and 24mpg for the 3.0, but few owners achieve anything close to these figures in reality.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Low demand for early models, ’03 on 2.0 Lusso most appealing

James Ruppert
Used car guru

A full service history is a must because neglect can cause oil to clog the 2.0 engine, leading to likely failure. Cambelt changes are needed every 36,000 miles or three years, although the service book says 72,000 miles/six years. If it's neglected, the belt can slip or snap, which may wreck the engine. Rear suspension bushes wear, and if their clonking is ignored, linkages and arms can be damaged, tripling repair costs.

Check the tyre pressures, too, as the alloy wheels can become porous, letting air leak out. And, on 1990s' cars, check they have a red-topped master key as well as the blue-topped one. You can't get duplicates cut without it, and replacing it is expensive.

Rust takes hold in the rear deck where metal joins glass, and also under the rear arches. If it's visible, it's serious. Repairs are possible, but they will be expensive if they are to last.

Torn or frayed seats will cost more than you’d expect to fix.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Poor reliability, high failure rates and above average repair costs

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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