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Definitive 159/ Brera Buyers Guide

One of the most asked questions, so written this, (I'll will edit as needed, please comment on this for any major corrections or additions).

Need some Brera info if anyone can help, though much of the information below is relevant to both models


Trim Levels

Anyone looking to buy a 159 or Brera will first want to consider the different models available, with two basic 159 versions available the saloon and estate, along with the Brera
In 2008, the car was updated, essentially a 45kg weight loss, and a few small changes of trim (the Ti lost auto wipers, blue & me became standard), but apparently all were then fitted with the Q2 differential too. Easiest way to tell is after 2008, the boot badge became the boot release button (previously it was on the headlining!)
Then there are a range of Trim Levels, these have changed over the years, but are essentially:

159

Turismo: Basic model, flocked Cloth, 16” 415 alloys, painted dash trim ,

Turismo SportRare, Basic model, Sports Cloth seats, 17" 4WQ alloy wheels, Brushed Aluminium Trim, Ti type Sports leather steering wheel

Elegante: Pretty rare, but had 55E 17"alloys, stainless steel kick plates, Alfa Tex seats, parking sensor, blue&me

Lusso: Leather seats, 17” alloys, auto wipers/ rear view mirror/ lights), reverse sensors, metal dash trim, stainless steel kick plates

Ti: Red Brembo brake calipers, 19” wheels, Lowered suspension, Side Skirts, Heated Sports seats (electric till mid 08 with memory on seat and mirros, half leather, half alcantara on later ’10 on models), 60:40 Folding seats (saloon), Sports Steering wheel, Red stitched gear knob, Black Headlining, Auto lights/ wipers/ demist (till mid 08), Blue and Me (didnt became standard on Lusso till mid 08), Darkened dash materials, different dial colours, Aluminium pedals, Satin wing mirrors, Ti Sill plates in front, Badges under side repeaters.

Limited Edition (LE/SE): There were a couple of limited editions/ Special editions, including:

James Bond Limited Edition : 250 made, black Lusso (1.9 JTDM only) with Anthracite 10 spoke Ti wheels, brembo calipers, lowered suspension and Ti steering wheel/ dials, leather seats and a few other goodies, but no sports seats or side skirts. Some are labelled at Ti, so watch out (key points to look for are the Ti sports seats have the Alfa logo stitched in red, and the Ti side skirts)

For other parts of Europe they have the following, roughly equivalent levels to the above ( in order), but will depend on your market.

Impression
Sport
Distinctive
Selective
Ti

Brera

Brera (called 'SV' pre 08)
Standard trim (in the UK): aluminium interior trim, sky view roof (hence SV), rear parking sensors, folding mirrors, cruise control, dual zone climate control, and 17" alloys, leather extra
Cars post 08 had 4 pot brembos and slightly different seats, darker dashboard trim, often no sky view/or had a blind over.

Brera S (Prodrive)
Developed with prodrive for better looks and handling: Leather with red stitching, S limited edition badging (on rear quarters, head rest, etc),Leather dash with red stitching (option on the 2.2 standard on the 3.2), Prodrive mudflaps, Prodrive suspension, 19" 8C style alloys, S Style Tailpipes (D shaped) with additional expansion chamber on 2.2 for added noise appeal.

Brera Italia Independent
Standard trim, plus opaque-finish "titanium" paintwork, 18" "turbine" style alloy wheels and an aluminium fuel-filler cap

939 Spider

Standard trim
Cloth (leather on 2.4 jtdm and 32 jts)), folding mirrors, 17" alloys, Twin chrome exhaust, dual zone auto climate control, cruise control, split fold rear seats, rear parking sensors,


Italia Independent limited edition
matt finish paint, 18" Turbine alloys Leather seat trim, Lumbar support, Sat Nav

'Limited Edition'
Confusingly named limited edition, one of three colours (Carbonio Black, Alfa Red, Ghiaccio White) plus 19 inch Ti type alloy wheels, leather upholstery, electrically adjustable and heated memory front seats and door mirrors

Petrols
A range of engines was available, 2.2JTS, 1.9JTS and 1.8MPI (all removed 2010, the 2.2 was the most common, others a bit gutless), 3.2 v6 JTS Q4 the top of the range 4wd option, kept through the life, and 1.750 TBI (introduced in 2010 with good reviews). All the engines are pretty reliable, with all but the 1750TBi engine being GM based units.
  • The 2.2 can suffer from low speed hesitation (around 1,100 rpm), a remap can help
  • The timing chain can stretch, the engine management light should come on, should not cause damage, but can cost a bit (300+)


Diesels:

1.9 (8v and more common 150bhp 16v version), and 2.4 (pre 2008 200bhp, post 210bhp (different turbo)). Later a 2.0 became available, which had less issues with DPF or EGR. If you are looking to re-map, the 2.4 and 2.0 are better options (stronger gearbox).

What to look out for:
  • Stone chipping to bonnet (soft paint),
  • Suspension bushes (any knocking over bumps),
  • Rear springs are known to snap (about 4cm from the bottom), this seems to be more common on the 159 Ti. This should have been sorted as easy to spot, Eibach pro kit are a very common replacement, same height as Ti, better quality, and great price.
  • Heavy front inside tyre wear (simple 4 wheel alignment to resolve, can be related to the bushes too).
  • Noises on full lock (earlier cars had the wrong power steering fluid (should be green, not red...check before buying)).
  • Wiper linkage can go (the drivers wiper will foul the bonnet when sweeping, & leaves a triangular mark on the screen, and takes paint off the lip of the bonnet where it contacts).
  • Front Subframe Rust is an emerging issue, some have known to have corroded, if you get the chance to get the car up on a lift, take a look, particularly at the front, which is disappointing. You're likely to see some surface rust spots but some have started to rust through, so have a look into the engine bay and around the suspension arm (lower) mountings in the wheel well
  • The rear door locks can fail, check all the doors open.


  • The cambelt AND waterpump should be changed every 50-60k or 4 years (the manual says longer). Factor this in if its not been done (~450).
  • Small puff of smoke on start (cold, damp days) is acceptable, but much more than that could be an issue.
  • 1.9 Gearbox, any movement of the gear stick in gear (esp 5/6th), or whine in 6th gear should be avoided (bearings can go)
  • The 2.4 has plastic coolant valves, these can fail, loosing coolant, so recommended you replace with metal ones (pretty cheap job, 1-2)
  • Low power, especially below 2,000rpm, could be something as simple as the EGR valve (can be had for as little as 80 new, and diy job), or more serious, get the garage to sort it.

Now I've bought it, what now!?

So you've bought the car, other than starting to enjoy it, what should/ can you do that might improve your owning experience. (Other than the usual checking fluids, cam-belt change etc):
  • Have four wheel alignment, can help with the handling and reduce the front inner tyre wear. Alfa changed the official settings to reduce this (if it's never been done it'll probably be off now.
  • If you have a 1.9 or 2.4 JTDM, blank (or partially restrict) the EGR. 90% of engine problems are related to the EGR! This will also improve performance (including mpg), but mainly it will reduce engine issues with time (swirl flaps, gunked up manifold), clean the map sensor a the same time. Blanking the EGR will need an engine map also (Autolusso offer the service incluing blanking plate for 150), a partial blanking plate (help, but not exlcude issues), can be had for 4, and a simple DIY job. DPF can also be removed, but is a contentious issues (search for threads on the matter) due to the MOT.
  • 1.9JTDm? Replace the oil in the M32 gearbox, they are prone to failure (as mentioned aboe), oil overheats and thins out, replace with thicker (Redline MT90 or Fuchs Titan Sintofluid 75W-80 are popular options.
  • Powerflex bushings, the standard bushings allow some movement, and can contribute to inner edge tyre wear/ vague steering. Marginally more expensive than OEM bushing ( you re-use the wishbone, rather than replace the whole thing). Will also reduce suspension smoothness slightly (more transmitted to cabin). I did mine when the bushings died naturally (~6 years old)
  • Suspension, replace the snapping prone springs with Eibach pro kit, they are -30/35mm (~same as Ti,). Better quality (avoid snapped springs), improved ride. Also consider the dampers, will be getting old now, Bilstein B4 is considered OEM spec (ie not an upgrade for insurance purposes). Eibachs are ~130 for full set, Bilsteins B4 ~60 per corner.
  • Sat-Nav, very much optional! The standard CD player and OEM sat nav are a different size (crazy I know), so you cannot retrofit an OEM one, you will need a different adaptor if replacing the OEM SatNav (which is not great anyway)
  • Replace speakers, again optional, standard 6.5" components will fit with spacers (same as for the 147).
  • Replace dipped beams with HIDs (35/55w) for brighter lights.
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159 1.9JTDM Ti and Giulietta 2.0 Veloce
ex: Punto 55s, Golf Mk5 1.4FSi, A3 (8P) Sportback 2.0TDi SE, A4 (B8) 2.0TDI S-Line, 306 HDI Meridian

Last edited by giblets46; 10-06-16 at 09:51. Reason: Added spiders, and limited edition brera info
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Just a few things:

The Brera never had the trim levels of the 159. Maybe delete Brera from the title and have a separate thread or add-in more detail?
No mention of the Spider, though it's pretty much as the Brera with the added bonus of 'hood issues'.

The 2.2 also has the gearbox as noted for the 1.9 .

Last edited by lussoman; 28-01-15 at 22:07.
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The 2.2 also has the gearbox as noted for the 1.9 .
I've heard on the grape vine its quite rare for the 2.2 to have problems with the M32 Box. You need a turbo to knacker it.
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I've heard on the grape vine its quite rare for the 2.2 to have problems with the M32 Box. You need a turbo to knacker it.
Ned commented on this.
He said it only seemed that way because there's a lot more 1.9s out there than 2.2s, hence he sees more 1.9s with the problem.
My 2.2 box is knackered.
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Ned commented on this.
He said it only seemed that way because there's a lot more 1.9s out there than 2.2s, hence he sees more 1.9s with the problem.
My 2.2 box is knackered.
Ah wounded. Touchwood mine is fine after 54,000 miles. And I often accelerate to the redline before changing.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lussoman View Post
Just a few things:



The Brera never had the trim levels of the 159. Maybe delete Brera from the title and have a separate thread or add-in more detail?

No mention of the Spider, though it's pretty much as the Brera with the added bonus of 'hood issues'.



Timing chain on the 2.2 is only really a potential problem on pre-2008 cars.

The 2.2 also has the gearbox as noted for the 1.9 .

Thanks lusso man, anyone(!?) fancy adding the parts on the Brera trim levels?


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Quote:
Originally Posted by giblets46 View Post
One of the most asked questions, so written this, will edit as needed, please comment on this for any major corrections or additions, will request it be made a sticky. Possibly needed some info on Brera trim levels please.


Trim Levels

Turismo: Basic model, Velour seats, 16” wheels, painted dash trim,

Lusso: Leather seats, 17” alloys, auto wipers/ rear view mirror/ lights), reverse sensors, metal dash trim, stainless steel kick plates

Ti: Red Brembo brake calipers, 19” wheels, Lowered suspension, Side Skirts, Heated Sports seats (electric till mid 08 with memory on seat and mirros, half leather, half alcantara on later ’10 on models), 60:40 Folding seats (saloon), Sports Steering wheel, Red stitched gear knob, Black Headlining, Auto lights/ wipers/ demist (till mid 08), Blue and Me (didnt became standard on Lusso till mid 08), Darkened dash materials, different dial colours, Aluminium pedals, Satin wing mirrors, Ti Sill plates in front, Badges under side repeaters.


What to look out for:
  • Stone chipping to bonnet (soft paint),
  • Suspension bushes (knocking over bumps),
  • Heavy front inside tyre wear (simple 4 wheel alignment to resolve).
  • Noises on full lock (earlier cars had the wrong power steering fluid (should be green, not red).
  • Wiper linkage can go (the drivers wiper will foul the bonet when sweeping, & leaves a triangular mark on the screen).
  • Subframe Rust is an emerging issue, some have known to have corroded, if you get the chance to get the car up on a lift, take a look, particularly at the front, which is disappointing. You're likely to see some surface rust spots but some have started to rust through, so have a look into the engine bay and around the suspension arm (lower) mountings in the wheel well



Petrols
  • The 2.2 can suffer from low speed hesitation (around 1,100 rpm), a remap can help
  • The timing chain can stretch, the engine management light should come on, should not cause damage, but can cost a bit (300+)
I was informed there is a Base trim ( 15" or 16" wheel ), then a Turismo ( 16" Wheel ) , then Turismo Sport ( 17" Wheel ), then Turismo S.E ( 18" Wheel ) , Lusso ( 17" / 18" Wheel ), Elegante ( 17" Wheel ) then Ti ( 19" Wheel )

My Turismo S.E , has 18" wheels, Full Leather, and lots of toys that would be in a Lusso or Ti. Probably better equipped than later 159's as standard. Alfa never got to grips with specifications in the 159's late 2005 - late 2008, just like they did with the 156's with SP1 - SP3 Packs with Turismo, Veloce, Lusso, Ti's, GTA trims

Suggest that you list all the petrol models as you have done with the 1.9 and 2.4 diesels, 2.2 maybe the preferred choice even though it has issues, but the other 3 engines, 1.8 TBI, 1.9JTS and 1.8MPI, maybe in smaller numbers compared to the 2.2, but do not suffer the same problems as the 2.2. Also not to exclude the mighty 3.2 V6 in Q2 / Q4 format.

Current :
Alfa 159 1.8 Turismo Sport

Previous Owns :
2004 Alfa 147 1.9 16v Mjet.
2005 Alfa 156 SW 2.4 20v Mjet.
2001 Alfa 156 SW 1.8 16v Twinnie.
1996 Alfa 164 2.0 TS Super Lusso

Last edited by ScouseLad; 07-03-14 at 13:27. Reason: spell
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Turbo trouble
Check the turbo - listen for a 'whine' on starting from cold and if you can, get the Turbo Power Boost checked. If too low then AVOID. Excessive blue smoke if turbo seals and or bearing gone.

(50,000miles.Had a series of problems all linked to 'breathing'. Loss of power when heavy acceleration . Mango replaced vacuum switch and EGR under warranty. Worked for a short while. Then DPF removed (totally clogged) finally replaced Turbo*. Sorted! (I hope!)

(* 2 sorts of turbo. My 210BHP has a Garrett. Dont go for 'remanufactured' @ 250+ under any circumstances.They will tell you they a 'new quality' they are not! Only fit new, remember you are driving a 30,000 motor. AutoLusso sell @599 inc tax other suppliers 825 inc Tax pay about 400 for fitting and make sure they remap.
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A few thoughts from an Australian perspective.

The TI model lost electric seats compared to the earlier cars as part of the weight saving - this might be part of the UK Lusso spec.

Tyre wear isn't necessarily just a simple four wheel alignment fix. The lower suspension bush can fail readily, so a stiffer bush can be needed to improve the retention of the alignment. The front suspension lacks camber adjustment as standard, so the only way to adjust this is to release the subframe and laterally move it to get the best compromise for the two wheels.

The timing chain stretching might only cost 300 pounds on a 4 cylinder, but buying GM bits will cost at least 500 pounds for the V6, 1500 from Alfa, and at least three days to take the engine out, make the change and then reinstall with a re-gassed air conditioning system and a new wheel alignment.

I'd add that the in-tank fuel pump can go and give all sorts of weird symptoms. For cars on 19 inch wheels, the standard tyre size is unusual and relatively expensive. It is worth looking at what tyres are on the car as the tyres will influence car-to-car comparisons. TI models have been known to suffer from cracked rear springs.
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Just to confirm - the timing belt and waterpump interval is the same for the 1.9JTD as it is for the 2.4JTD and in turn is the same as it was for the 1.9JTD used in the GT?
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Definitive 159/ Brera Buyers Guide

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Just to confirm - the timing belt and waterpump interval is the same for the 1.9JTD as it is for the 2.4JTD and in turn is the same as it was for the 1.9JTD used in the GT?

Depends on who you ask...but yes same for both! Depends because the books says something stupid like 90k/ 4 years. Gradually been revised downwards to 50k/ 4years ish. Think I'll get mine done around 60k as I do high mileage ( so short time) and it fits in nicely with servicing.


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Depends on who you ask...but yes same for both! Depends because the books says something stupid like 90k/ 4 years. Gradually been revised downwards to 50k/ 4years ish. Think I'll get mine done around 60k as I do high mileage ( so short time) and it fits in nicely with servicing.


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I have a 2011 Ti with the 2.0 Diesel 170 BHP and its got 57 k on the clock should i look at doing the belt on it soon ? or is it only the 1.9's are the problem ?
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2.2 timing chain can cost quite a lot more than 300.00. To do it properly the variators need changing too bringing the cost to 1k plus! Me and my wallet can confirm this.
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Rear door handle/lock is a fairly common failure. Usually still opens from outside only, sometimes (or eventually?) won't open at all so don't put off the fix too long. Part not too expensive via Italy (eBay). Fairly easy DIY job.
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I put the change on pause and have been away for a few weeks, I took the 156 over to Europe for the LM24 and the CLM24 plus some running around. The car ran faultlessly and was a joy to drive. Anyway, the search is now on again, I have decided on a 159 2.4, thats as far as I have got, however I spotted one for sale with a cutch that rattled, so is this something I need to listen out for, and is it a replacement clutch. I don't mind doing that if its reflected in the price.
The search is on again!
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Leaky 'leccy. More of an annoyance than anything. Leave a 159 much more than a week and the battery will be flat as a flute.

Original batteries all a bit underspec, most replaced by now as they seem to die around 4 years old but even a recently upgraded one will get drained if left.
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If i dont replace my GT with a newer model then the Brera will be my next alfa, looking at the specs the 2.0 diesel will suit me as i do 250 motorway miles p/w. I will also be looking at the Lusso pack.
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Originally Posted by giblets46 View Post
Depends on who you ask...but yes same for both! Depends because the books says something stupid like 90k/ 4 years. Gradually been revised downwards to 50k/ 4years ish. Think I'll get mine done around 60k as I do high mileage ( so short time) and it fits in nicely with servicing.


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Stupid question but I see you quoting 50k as timing belt interval, I assume as you're in the UK, this is in miles? Cheers
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Stupid question but I see you quoting 50k as timing belt interval, I assume as you're in the UK, this is in miles? Cheers

Hi, yes, that's correct!


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AFAIK AU-spec Ti never lost the full power adjustable / heated seats or the auto wipers throughout its model life. And none of the batch 1 of 4 to Australia Ti cars have sunroof, because Ateco figured that having paid so much for a Ti, nobody was then going to pay more for a roof!

Examples of the Ti TBi in Australia with textile seats (red trim) are originally ZA-spec cars; 18" wheels is another indicator of that batch.

Faulty water pump bearing means new timing belt under warranty at 16000km. Bad, but also good...!

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Just found this thread, which is great as I'm looking for a 2.4 159 or Brera. Thanks to all for the collective info.
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159 2.4 Automatic

Thanx for the helpful information in this thread.
Do you have any thoughts on the automatic gearbox, especially coupled to the 2.4 diesel? I am looking at a beautiful 2008 model.
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Bloody hell what have I bought ??????
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Bloody hell what have I bought ??????

A beauty! just ensure the essentials are done: EGR blank, cam belt done, and wheel alignment correct ( bushes will improve this too).


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I keep reading about the egr blank off plate plus remap ! I had the egr problems on my 2.4 20v 156 I stripped it down cleaned it up was ok after that .water pump and cambelt was done 4 weeks ago when I bought the car , will have the wheels alignment cheeked the weekend ive got to have two rear tyres fitted anyway .
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