Having been fortunate to own the latest and best of Alfa's V6 offerings over the last couple of years, I thought I would post a note of my experiences at this Easter time. I think most would agree the last incarnation of the Arese\ Busso\ "Bussone" engine makes the Alfa car, being its very heart and soul. The sad passing away of Giuseppe Busso in 2006 ironically also marked the end of availability of the famous V6 in new cars in UK, although the engine is still sold in new GTs elsewhere in the world I believe, but supplies may be dwindling. Perhaps the engine produces too much torque for the 156 based chassis of the GT, as I can support, having taken the car over to the Pyrenees for 2 weeks. By the time I came back it was squeaking through the Portsmouth Customs, which raised suspicions (and hence a search)! The problem was of course a twisted and worn front suspension.
So during ownership of the 1st GT 3.2, she suffered front suspension failure requiring complete upper\ lower wishbone replacement on front, a snapped clutch pin, (having already been recalled for the new pin once before), a new clutch replacement (seized up got too stiff). With the list of problems with the GT growing, I decided to take a plunge for the Brera S V6, deciding to ignore the negative opinions of those well-informed on this site, (and having, admittedly test driven the Brera S 2.2)
The Brera S V6 was certainly a different beast. However, for all the styling and interior refinement, what can I say? It's heavy, and you feel its weight driving it around. The new Holden V6 engine has no character, all the sound is provided by the exhaust system, and it IS sluggish, less economical than the Busso, and all very boring. When you open the door it feels like you're getting out of a tank. Those doors must be twice the weight of the GT's. The tyres cost a fortune, and if you're getting through them every 5000 miles, well a 19" set of Pirellis is over £400. Then there was the "replacement" fuel tank (or perhaps a few point welds here and there) and of course the squeaky seat issue. I won't labour the point (probably will upset the other forum) but as you can guess I decided to return to the GT, and that engine. Having put these comments on the Brera, I hope there's something in the Alfa pipeline to return to the original concept. Surely the Brera was not developed for a European market...
I got my 2nd GT V6 from Meridien Milano, Portsmouth, and John down there did a good job with the sale, satisfying my 20-point conditions, and making me happy upon collection.
So having said this, I have just got the 2nd GT V6 Q2'd round at Ned's Autolusso. The car feels a lot "tighter" as if the diff acts as an extra tightening bolt in the centre of the chassis. You certainly feel the benefit when there's water on the roads, and going round bends, corners and roundabouts under acceleration, but even though understeer is negated when pushing it, you can get the back end to swing out.
There must also be mention of that old 156 of Ned's. It certainly is a nice drive, and if he lends it out to you while you have your car worked on, I can guarantee you'll be miserable when the time comes to return it, it certainly has a real character (how does the wiper arms motor manage to make that noise?!) . OK, the bodywork looks like a piece of crap on the outside, but it's not all bad, once you drive it you'll want all the mods that have been applied to it. These have been well discussed here, but include the Koni FSDs and Eibachs, uprated performance brake pads, fat tyres and a special "decat" job (that will be interesting at MOT time ??) Despite the limitations of its 2.5 V6 block, it certainly goes nicely, and the exhaust note has a lot of treble and bass notes. I tried to avoid the raspy treble ones but these are unavoidable in 1st and 2nd. Showing at an eighth full prior to a fuel stop, having given it some 15l of juice, in protest the gauge slumped to -1/8 empty. My first experience of the 156 was certainly enjoyable.
The work done by these guys is superb. I had the Q2 fitted and two new upper wishbones and some other bits and bobs, and it was all done to great precision and supported by excellent customer service. (Surely such dedicated service isn't allowed here in UK?). So Ned, thanks again for the quality work. Heaps of praise, a million thanks.
I've followed this forum along for about two years now, and it is a real gold mine of info. Itís nice to see how a few dedicated and experienced Alfa mechanics can add so much value for a lot of people, cheers. I hope the Alfa powers that be have a good read of all these threads, and get us back on course with a thoroughbred evolution of the great engines of the Busso era. I only wish I could read Italian and work out a little more what people are thinking over there as well. I think I'll keep my GT until another quality Alfa is available, and if it ends up like the Autolusso 156 I won't be too upset.