In a battle of epic track-ready sedans, who comes out on top?
What a time to be alive! In the aftermath of the Geneva Motor Show's cancellation, the internet has been a flurry of high profile reveals that have left us drooling over our keyboards. But among the insanity of 300 mph+ Koenigseggs and track-ready McLarens, the car that's drawn the most talk in our office has been the Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA. Why? Because of all the insane machinery, it seems the most attainable, and yet it's also one that tugs on the heartstrings of gearheads the world over. More than that, we live in an era where we'll get to witness not just one track-ready super-sedan in action, but two, as the Giulia GTA lines up the prolific Jaguar XE SV Project 8 in its sights. Before the two hit the track, we've lined them up to see, on paper, which track weapon is likely to be the best…
Cars as manic as these drive obsession before you even get behind the wheel. Their aesthetic is as vital for emotion as it is for aerodynamic purposes, and neither disappoints. The reworked bodywork of the Alfa Romeo is aggressive - possibly excessively so - with additional venting, carbon fiber bumper inserts, and on the GTAm, that stunning piece of carbon fiber mounted on the trunk lid, engineered by the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 team. If this were a contest on who has the best wing, the Alfa would walk it by a country mile. In comparison, the wing on the XE SV Project 8 looks dull and ordinary.
But the Alfa has its weak points - the front bumper seems over-designed, and the carbon fiber extensions to the rear wheel arches seem a cheap workaround to avoid building custom body panels.
Jaguar went the other way entirely, remolding the rear fenders and rear doors to accommodate furiously blistered arches that look tremendous. The front end is cleaner, too, and full credit must go to Jaguar's designers for their smooth body-colored front mesh design - a fresh take on air intakes, amplified beautifully by the carbon fiber front splitter. The Jag may be more sophisticated, but the Alfa's outrageousness is more suited to something track ready.
Giulia GTA 1 - 0 XE SV Project 8
With both sedans based on exceptionally talented driver's cars even in base form, turning up the dial can only result in something exceptional. On paper, it's a one-way battle, though and in a game of top trumps, the Jaguar seems a certain victor. Not only does the XE SV have the bigger engine - a V8 measuring 5.0 liters in displacement compared to the piddling 2.9-liter V6 of the Giulia GTA - but it's vastly more powerful, producing 592 hp compared to the Giulia GTA's 540 hp. The Jag can manage a 3.3-second 0-60 mph time courtesy of its all-wheel-drive system and Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires, while the GTA manages the same sprint just three-tenths slower in 3.6 seconds.
On track, the XE SV already has proven clout, too, setting an incredible lap time around the Nurburgring of 7:18.36, making it the quickest production sedan around the Green Hell.
The Alfa hasn't had a chance to prove its mettle around the circuit just yet, but the standard Giulia Quadrifoglio managed a 7:32.00 in stock form, just 14 seconds off the Jaguar, despite a power deficit of 87 hp and 73 lb-ft.
With less weight, more power, and more aggression dialed in, we expect the Giulia GTAm to lap quicker than the XE SV thanks to a power-to-weight ratio of 161.2 hp/1,000 lbs (153.9 hp/1,000 lbs for the Jaguar XE SV).
There's a certain amount of subjectivity that goes into this section as well, as the Jaguar's AWD system doesn't seem to operate as well as many would like, while the Giulia - even in Quadrifoglio form - feels alive all the time, with the sharpest steering in the segment and a balance that no rival comes close to matching. While we'll have to wait to see what the Giulia GTA does in the real world, at this early juncture we'll place our bets with the Italian marque.
Giulia GTA 2 - 0 XE SV Project 8
Both manufacturers have followed a remarkably similar recipe when it comes to the interiors of their track-ready super-sedans, stripping out any excess weight and ensuring that your insides don't get turned to mush when you hit that first apex at speed. The default setting for both the XE SV and the Giulia GTA sees the rear seats removed in favor of a built-in roll cage, while the front seats are swapped out for racing buckets, both equipped with Sabelt racing harnesses. Leather and wood are traded in for Alcantara and carbon fiber as far as the eye can see. But while both are similar, the two are not equals. The GTA looks more appealing, with a swooping dash design as opposed to the SV's tombstone-like center console layout.
There's a simplicity about the Alfa's controls, too, and that steering wheel, complete with a red engine start button, looks and feels magnificent. But Jaguar offers you something special when it comes to the XE SV - you can opt for a Touring specification, which re-equips the rear bench seat, in addition to adding subtler exterior styling. Practicality is hardly something you place at the top of your wishlist when shopping for a track car, but knowing you can take your whole family along for the ride is a pretty novel idea. Sadly, it's not enough to declare the Jaguar the winner in the interior department, and it's yet another point to the Giulia GTA.
Giulia GTA 3 - 0 XE SV Project 8
Special cars carry special price tags, price tags which generally go hand-in-hand with how few will be manufactured. In the case of the Jaguar XE SV, just 300 cars will be built in total, and in the US, it carries a base price of $187,500. The Alfa Romeo will be a little more common, as 500 Giulia GTA and GTAm units will be produced worldwide. While orders are officially open, the Italian brand hasn't specified how much you'll be paying for one. Considering you can buy a standard Giulia Quadrifoglio with the same engine and even carbon fiber-shelled front seats, the GTA is a little less special in our books, while the XE has never been produced with a V8 outside of the SV Project 8, making the prospect of seeing one in the wild not only a much rarer opportunity, but a more special one as well. We're pretty sure buyers will use these cars as track tools - the way the manufacturers envisaged - but the XE SV Project 8 is by far the more exclusive of the two.
Giulia GTA 3 - 1 XE SV Project 8
It's never easy comparing cars like this, as we should instead just revel in the fact that manufacturers dared to build something as focused as these two machines are. But comparisons will always be drawn, and there will inevitably be a winner. In this case, it's the on-paper underdog that comes out on top. Less exclusive, with 500 being produced, less powerful, and with a smaller engine, the odds were stacked against the Giulia GTA. But considering how incredible the standard Giulia Quadrifoglio already is, we expect nothing less than greatness from the newly revived GTA nameplate.