Review: Alfa Romeo Brera (2005 – 2011)
Interesting styling, Q4 V6 is an entertaining drive, Brera S sounds superb.
2.4 JTDM lacks sparkle and drinks diesel. Rear seats not easy to get to. Poor driving position. Ungainly long front overhang.
Alfa Romeo Brera (2005 – 2011): At A Glance
Giorgetto Giugiaro styles Alfa Romeo 159 based coupe launched at Geneva Motor Show March 2005. Short back. Very long front overhang.
At its best with the 3.2 litre V6 and Q4 four wheel drive, not with front wheel drive and the 2.4JTDM.
What does a Alfa Romeo Brera (2005 – 2011) cost?
What's the Alfa Romeo Brera (2005 – 2011) like to drive?
Apologies to everyone reading this, but I think Ive been testing the wrong car. The front-drive Alfa 159 1.9 JTDM is beautifully balanced. The front-drive 159 2.4 JTDM is 33% more powerful yet still works well. The four wheel drive 159 3.2 Q4 was a disappointment, but colleagues tell me that with the 7 inch shorter wheelbase of the Brera the 3.2 Q4 mechanicals work brilliantly.
My mistake was to borrow the front-drive Brera 2.4 JTDM. Its another Giorgetto Giugiaro car, like my 105 Series GT Junior, originally conceived as a showcar, but one that made it through to production. Its certainly a stunner, though not from every angle because of the relatively short wheelbase and the heavy overhangs, particularly at the front.
I think thats what makes the front-drive Brera less of an exquisite drive than the 159. And why it comes to life with four-wheel-drive in the manner of the short wheelbase Audi quattro turbo that Hannu Mikkola was so effective in.
The Brera is nominally a four seater, but at a mere 5 9 I cannot sit behind myself, and Id warn anyone leaning in to strap child seats into the ISOFIX fittings to watch their backs. With the rear seats up theres a decent size 300 litre hole for luggage, though, and that grows to 610 litres to windowsill height with the seats flopped forwards.
The dashboard is nice brushed aluminium and the computer LED display is an easy to read bright red. Not so the instruments, which are hard to read in daylight and the speedo is calibrated in 20mph increments. (Probably because of the new daytime headlight rules in Italy the cars instruments are designed to be permanently lit.)
The seats have electrically reclining backrests but every other adjustment is manual. After a bit of wriggling around I got comfortable. The door mirrors are very good. Its surprisingly easy to reverse park. The gearchange is excellent. But you cannot adjust the drivers lumbar support without opening the door. And since the time you will want to adjust it is when you start to get an ache on the motorway, thats a real pain in the back.
The torque seems to come in later than in the 159. And probably because of the enormous wallop when it does arrive the throttle sensor is heavily damped, preventing you from making super-quick gearchanges that might have broken the box or snapped a driveshaft. The cruise control is very good, allowing you to make fine adjustments to get it spot on through the roadworks. On optional 18 wheels with 235/45 tyres its as youd expect over speed cushions, and tramlines braking on uneven surfaces.
Those tyres grip like grim death around roundabouts with zero understeer, but the Brera isnt a natural fine handler like the 159. Youre always aware of the mass of car in front of the front wheels and the short wheelbase. On the days I had the car I also drove a Golf 1.4 TSI 170, a Golf 2.0 TDI 170, a Superchipped Focus ST with 256bhp and a Superchipped Audi A4 2.0 TDI Avant with 185bhp, a Leon 2.0 TFSI 200 FR and an Ibiza 1.8T 150 FR. Apart from the A4, all of them felt more agile turning into and pulling out of corners. Its odd to think that the Germans have got their Golfs to handle better than the Italians have managed with an Alfa Romeo coupe.
So Im a bit stymied here. The Brera is a car I love the look of and really wanted to like. But it didnt move me the way an Alfa 159 1.9JTDM had six weeks previously.
And in view of the 32.39mpg 34.63mpg I got driving fairly sedately I didnt even enjoy the diesel benefit. I was thinking I should have asked for the 3.2 Q4 big Mike and the German motoring press have been raving about. That the 2.4 JTDM was a mistake.
Then something happened. I had to do an airport run at 5.30 in the morning. Instead of sitting baking in 40 degree heat, the car had been sleeping in 15 degrees, covered in dew. The asphalt on the roads wasnt melted. There was hardly any traffic. And the Brera came to life.
Rather than lumping its way round corners it was gripping like a terrier. The tyres were putting all of that 200PS and 400Nm torque onto the road. The steering developed so much feel it was actually heavy, demanding respect. The car became an Alfa Romeo.
|1750 TBi||35 mpg||7.7 s||189 g/km|
|2.0 JTDm||52 mpg||8.8 s||142 g/km|
|2.2 JTS||30–31 mpg||8.6 s||218–221 g/km|
|2.4 JTDm||42 mpg||7.9–8.1 s||179 g/km|
|2.4 JTDm QTRONIC||36 mpg||8.3 s||208 g/km|
|3.2 JTS||25–26 mpg||6.8–7.0 s||260–273 g/km|
|3.2 JTS V6 QTRONIC||23 mpg||7.0 s||286 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Alfa Romeo Brera (2005 – 2011)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
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Engine damage from oil loss and overfill
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