ALFA'S AFFORDABLE SUPERCAR From AROC Mag
All the Italian style with none of the supercar expense.
TWO YEARS WITH A DIESEL BRERA.
A SPORTS DIESEL?
Not a contradiction in terms when the Le Mans 24hour race has been won twice in recent years by diesel racing cars.
If you bought a racehorse would you feed it with the budget hay or the go-faster hay? So why buy a stylish car, feed it with supermarket diesel and then complain that the engine is lumpy? If you have a thousand pounds worth of fuel injectors that inject multiple droplets per stroke, it won’t run on thick black tarry stuff for long without clogging. Premium diesel is made from gas and not from tar ,so squirts better and keeps the nozzles clear. It costs more to fill up but then you save on new injectors, the car runs much smoother, quieter so accelerates faster without any stuttering. The kind of smooth, silent scary push that catapults you forward with no hiccups when the turbo kicks in. But there are those ‘dudes’, as evidenced by the Alfa Owner website, who buy a hi-tec car like a Brera then try to run it on cheapest stuff . Or the one complaining about the engine running rough when it was caused by putting unleaded petrol instead of diesel in the tank because they are both called ‘Ultimate’ on the nozzle?
The 2.4 JTDM 20 valve 5 cylinder turbo diesel with 210 bhp is souped up from the 156 one. One size to fit all euro markets is de-tuned for economy and emissions. Yet even in standard tune it is very powerful. Hard to keep it under the criminal hundred as the turbo boost pumping In sixth gear surges forward on any level or downhill before you notice. At 70 it still has another 73 mph in hand. At 93 has another 50mph before it runs out of puff. The 200 bhp Brera will do 142mph. The extra 10 bhp from the 210 engine gives just one mph extra - 143. By comparison ; Austin Healy 3000 had 134 bhp, MGB 95 hp. Fiat Ferrari Dino 2.5 just 160bhp from the Alfa v6. Same for GTV6 and 75. Yet the Brera is scorned for ‘only’ doing 143 while averaging 32 to 40 mpg depending on how heavily you tread on the faster pedal? If this is not enough it can be chipped and tuned to produce 250 horsepower and 150mph. A Veloce version could be tuned to produce 270-300 horses. More than the V6 petrol but then the petrol heads would be upset by comparable performance with half the fuel cost. The 3.2 litre Veloce brera could have been fitted with twin turbo’s , 350 hp and single digit mpg ?But then it would be competing with Maserati and nicking their tiny sales. Brera Coupe suffered in the Fiat corporate range from being sandwiched between the budget Fiats and the expensive Maseratis. Corporate compromise stifled its development and squashed its performance.
EXTREME SPEED COSTS EXTREME MONEY.
Supercar looks without the 7 mpg wallet emptying that goes with 180 mph could be seen as a bargain as fuel edges towards the cost of printer ink. For example; a Bugatti Veron at 250 mph is doing 3.6 mpg so will empty its tank in 12 minutes. (Although the two tone Veron colour scheme should have been an option on the Brera too.) Laws of physics demand that punching through air faster requires more horsepower from burning more fuel. Having a car that can do 180mph is as much use as owning an elephant gun in a country with no elephants. £100,000 plus for the vehicle ,multi thousands for the insurance, more thousands for servicing and tyres, just to get disqualified, fined five thousand and sent to prison? Delusionists fantasise about driving a Ferrari or Lambo without considering that, even if they won the car, there is no way they could afford the insurance or the subsequent fines as they practise the popular ’ I could have been a racing driver ‘ delusion while driving as if still covered in fur.
Alfa Brera’s attract extreme reactions. Either you see it as the best looking car of recent years with style that should cost tens of thousands more or you petulantly focus on the negatives as you drive your own ugly car away.Before it was released, the Alfa Brera concept car was voted "Best of Show" by Autoweek magazine at the 2002 Geneva Motor Show. "Best of Show" in the prototype category at the Villa d’Este Concorso D’Eleganze. It picked up two prizes at Challenge Bibendum 2002, and "the Most Fascinating Car" award at the Super Car Rally 2002 from Paris to Monte Carlo. Brera was elected European Car of the Year 2007 in Japan. Best Sports/Coupe - What Diesel Car? European Automotive Design Award 2006. Best Design Award 2006 by Autocar Magazine (UK). Judged by all these experts to be outstanding in its design yet reviewers would have you believe that Alfa Romeo cannot make a sports coupe. Damned by some of the most spiteful and unfair reviews ever: ‘Looks and drives like a van’. ‘Turbo lag exiting a roundabout so bad I feared being hit from behind’, (No mate you were in the wrong gear and going too slow. Max power is at 4000 revs so you rev it like a sports car. ) Then smeared with the old ‘Alfa Unreliable’ reputation. Alfa’s affordable exotic couldn’t sell just by its supercar looks as Fiat had hoped. Alfa offered an affordable 143 mph with 32 mpg average and sub £400 insurance but customers didn’t get it. Marketing failed to present it as a richly optioned, stylish cruiser that you could afford to run. Balancing emissions, power, insurance costs, and reliability.
ALL THE ITALIAN STYLE WITH NONE OF THE SUPERCAR EXPENSE.
Due to the big engine and gearbox between the front wheels it’s heavy but in a luxurious way. Would you prefer a solid car in a crash or a flimsy one made of metal the thickness of re-cycled baked bean tins ? SV spec has this massive options list as standard:- SV means Sky View to include the internal electric blind for the tinted glass roof. Alfa Romeo branded 4 pot aluminium brake callipers, VDC with hill holder (ABS + ASR + EBD + Brake assist). Q2 Electronic limited slip diff, Cruise control, PAS, Rear Parking sensors, Electric boot release, Push button starter, Electric front windows + one touch + anti-pinch, Rear wiper, Tinted windows, Brake pad wear/brake failure sensor, Multi Function Display, Oil level gauge, Service interval indicator, Trip computer, Body colour electric/heated/folding door mirrors, Sportive dial instruments, Brushed aluminium centre console and dashboard, Velour floor carpets. Radio/CD 8 speakers, Body colour bumpers, Chrome quad exhaust tailpipe, Follow me home headlights, Front fog lights, Air quality control system, Air conditioning. Dual zone automatic climate control, Pollen/active carbon filters, Front armrest with storage compartment + controlled temperature box, cigarette lighter, Glovebox with light, Height/reach adjust steering wheel, Rear armrest with ski tunnel, Sports leather steering wheel and gear knob with steering wheel mounted radio/phone controls, Stainless steel kick plates, Front door puddle lamps, Front/rear reading lights, Interior courtesy light, Luggage compartment lighting, Drivers knee airbag, Fire prevention system, Front passenger airbag deactivation, Front seatbelt pre-tensioners + load limiters, Front side airbags, Full size driver and passenger airbags, Seatbelt warning, Side window airbags, 60/40 split folding rear seat with storage compartment in armrest, Front headrests, Isofix system on outer rear seats, Rear headrests, Alfa code immobiliser, Inclination sensor, Volumetric anti theft alarm, Anti carjack external door locking. Security engraved glass. Retaina Group registered., Remote central locking/doors+fuel cap+tailgate, 17" Alloy wheels, Space saver spare wheel. Black and Grey leather electric reclining seats, Blue and me hands free phone. Windows media usb player in glovebox.
All 35 plus standard extras were Intended to tempt buyers away from German alternatives where everything costs extra. Despite the snide reviews, all the mass of electrical stuff still works like it should and has been totally reliable.
Started after standing for three weeks with no battery problems. Modern Alfa’s are no more prone to breaking down than BMW, Audi and Mercedes or Vauxhall’s for that matter, because their computer parts are sourced from the same Chinese factory’s as Apple’s, Dell’s and Tom Tom.
All the electrical protected by 75 fuses have stayed faultless as the new (ex BMW ), Alfa quality control manager has specified electrics that don’t go wrong. The instruments are now by Siemens to go with the Bosch fuel injection, so under the skin it is sharing similar parts found on its German rivals. The dual temperature climate control is used in many other cars . Its cabin is very quiet for the superb German Blaupunkt 8 speaker stereo to do it’s stuff, fed with 60 albums via the 8gb USB drive plugged into the Windows Media socket in the glove box. Makes a CD Auto changer look a bit dated.
YOU COULD THINK OF THE BRERA AS THE BEST EXTERIOR FACE YOU COULD POSSIBLY HAVE FOR YOUR KIT OF PARTS
Designed by Guigiaro , Brera has only the badge and the 156 derived centro styli interior as a connection to Alfa Romeo. Brera’s were assembled in Italy by the Pininfarina Factory using parts from all over Europe. General Motors engine block, gearbox and chassis via GM’s factories. All the other bits are made by: Pininfarina, Magnetti Marelli, Brembo, Recaro (Italy). Bosch (made in Hungary). Goodyear, Siemens, Bosch (Germany). Modern cars are assembled from a kit of parts made by an army of specialist suppliers. Putting a Brera next to cars that cost less than £60,000 is to see Prince Charming and the Ugly Sisters. The 156 owner next to me on the Alfa Club patch at the Bromley Pageant remarked’ If you stand behind it and look down the side it looks just like a van’. Then I realised that they all thought theirs was the best. Brera’s show car looks : six headlamps ,four exhausts, had stopped more passers by than anything else on our patch of grass .
Brera’s are six feet wide because of the 5 cylinder engine and 6 speed gearbox plus drive shafts push out the front wheel track. With the folding mirrors out you need seven feet to clear a gap, so trying to drive through width restriction poles is not as simple as it used to be. To open your door fully you need nine feet. Twelve for both doors. This means that it will not fit in garages built to Ford Popular size. You can just about drive in but can’t open the door far enough to get out. Cue for comedy contortions for exiting via the window. Hold down the unlock button on the remote to open the windows so you can squeeze in. The rear parking sensors are essential as you can’t see much out of the back and the big 225 Goodyear F1 tyres stick to the tarmac making it hard to use extreme turns even with the power steering. Supermarket parking is yet another worry. I just noticed there are scuff marks on my rear bumper where not enough care was used when driving past it in the car park. Cue touch up paint stick. This comes with some clear lacquer to seal the paint once you have touched in the scratches. Although it’s meant to be the official water based paint used by the Pinifarina factory, it does smell like solvent. There have been some instances of this water based paint flaking off in small specks but the ‘Lifeshine’ treatment applied by the dealer has held up well after two years outside. Still looks pristine and glittery.
INSIDE AN AIR-CONDITIONED WORK OF AUTOMOTIVE ART YOU FEEL SMART STYLISH AND SPECIAL
Setting the display to read out mpg while you are driving is very entertaining. Downhill in 6th you are doing 0 mpg but accelerating hard in 2nd gear you are doing only 12. I’m happy to get double the 17 mpg of my v6 75. 32 -35mpg is a bonus because getting in a Brera is like putting on an Armani suit. One of only 1,400 in the UK. Just 21,786 built for Europe and Australia makes it exclusive too.
I have only had the bonnet up four times ,two of those for show at the Bromley Pageant . There is now no need to check the oil level as the ‘can bus’ does that at start up. But I did look and noticed the oil level has got higher. Bad news on a diesel. Sure sign of fuel diluting the oil. If you don’t get it changed it can cause the engine to use its own sump oil as fuel to run away uncontrollably at full revs. Wrecking the engine for the price of an oil change.A very reasonable £133 including filter, sealing washer and oil at Ancaster Welling. I decided to go for 6 litres of Selenia WR 5w 40 as at 12,790 miles it’s not run in yet. Changed the Air Filter element for a K&N. Was surprised that the ‘lubrication service’ also came with a free mandatory ‘Alfa Health Check’. Finding the brakes are 30% worn at the front 20% at the back. Tyres have 4mm of tread left. No sign of the fabled wear on the inside edge of the fronts yet, so tracking must now be spot on. Stamped the service book and re-set the computer to tell it the oil had been changed. But now the media player was stuck on one track so it really has got far beyond comprehension in spanner land. Return to dealer for a quick application of the magic box to fix it. The engine is now slightly quieter and it revs more freely but trying to quantify the effect of the free flowing air filter means differences can often just be the effect of moist air but there does seem to be slightly less turbo lag.
Just had second MOT that passed without comment and Ancaster even cleaned it too.
Alfa has finally built a well made, reliable luxury car. All the quality issues fixed so that now it works as it should. A nice place to sit with excellent sound deadening so that there is no way you can tell it’s a diesel from inside. It roars like a petrol when you rev it and is a pleasure to drive. The smooth engine is both powerful and relatively economical. The car has been a delight but has seriously depreciated from new. February 2008 Brera 2.4 SV 210 ‘Blue and Me’ cost £27,000. By the time its first MOT in February 2010 it lost almost half to £14,950. That is probably the real reason it didn’t sell. Bought by me in October 2009 with 11,000 miles on the clock for close to £18,000 I’ve lost £5000 in just two years of ownership. The failure to hold its value like a German made vehicle is undoubtedly the result of the ‘unreliable‘, reputation attached to the Alfa name even though the Brera has no connection with Milano and many parts are well, German. Would I buy another one? Yes providing it was the 210 SV version post 2008 with all the stamps in the service book. It really is way beyond comprehension in spanner land and as it proved, customer land too.
From Alan Holmes.
Had it for three years now and it all works perfectly like it should.
Drive it like a sports car and rev it so the turbo kicks in. Keep it well serviced and don't try to do anything yourself because the computer needs re- setting for oil /battery change.
PS:As my four year old Brera 210 SV 2.4 was left standing for a month while I was ill, it needed the help of RAC to Jumpstart it back to life. (Remembering to connect the earth lead to the Engine as per handbook). I am still recovering and needing to be able to rely on the car to start so time to get a new battery. You will know that Alfa spares want £150ish so at carbatteriesonline I found that a VARTA SILVER F18 would fit and had a cold cranking amps of 800 thanks to calcium carbide technology: 85ah. AT £87 including delivery with 5 year guarantee, it’s a beast of a battery designed for cars with a lot of electrical equipment. 75 fuses in a Brera! Trip to the local Alfa service at Ancaster Welling was required to fit the new battery and re-set everything in the computer. I also had a Bronze service : oil and filter changed, 6 litres of Mobil this time and lubricating the door hinges along with the Alfa Health Check. £129 including cleaning and valeting as new. This discovered that I only have 3 mm of tread left on my rear tyres with a recommendation that they be replaced at 13,400 miles. Alfa Spares wanted £330 a tyre: Goodyear Eagle F1 ZR 17 x50 x 225 W . Available online for £130 each with around £15 each fitting. £290 as opposed to £660. Total saving £453 without compromising by using cheap stuff. But it was also discovered I need a new dipstick for an astonishing £29 for a bit of wire with a loop on the end! Breakers don’t have dipsticks but if they did it would be a fiver if that !
Alfa have very expensive part prices so it pays to buy your own stuff online.
Last edited by alfa75v6; 08-01-13 at 02:54.