I guess this is quite a late entry by all accounts, and given the obvious UK bias of this site I should have rushed things a bit for the sake of representation... Never mind, here I am. So, I own a Brera 3.2 since December 2006 and here’s the deal so far:
First, the disappointing bits. Space, and especially back seats: Ok, it’s clear that no one expects S-Class space when buying a coupe, but my feeling is that Alfa people were plain lazy here. I mean, they could add a couple of centimeters on the wheelbase without compromising the proportions (in any case all they did was cut the 159 floor by approx. 20 cm) or, failing that, do something with the thickness of the back seats and/or cut 10% of boot space (I don’t think that anyone would really care). It’s quite annoying that any 2nd passenger has to be a midget, an amputee - or else. Another point: The seats. Somehow, I feel that the 159 seats are better looking (not necessarily more comfortable or efficient at cornering- just better looking). Speaking of cornering, the seat sides are clearly a thing that should be top priority in the next facelift.
The roof. I have the so-called SkyView option (I know that names may vary by market, yes it’s that glass thing). For me it was not much of a dilemma really. Though I suspect there is a certain degree of compromise at the torsional rigidity front, plus the weight issue (which is anything but secondary in this particular car I am afraid), the car plainly sucks without it. The problem? It’s not retractable. Yes, I knew that from the start most obviously, but that does not make it any less frustrating. Living in Greece with sunshine 300 days out of the 365, the roof just begs to be opened. At least they could make the glass tint less dark – I mean it’s a frickin’ greenhouse anyway if you don’t use the sliding cover, so I don’t quite get it. It has to be really sunny for one to be able to see the sky, which is such a great, great pity. I guess there was a minor issue of internal competition with the Spider here, but my point still stands.
Sound system: I opted for the Bose thing (800 Euros here, thank you), which you must know affects only the speakers. The source is the same mediocre thing unfortunately. Eventually, it will have to go, succeeded by a multimedia station.
All the above would be minor details of course, if it was not for the really big problem. You can suspect that I am talking about the weight, and consequently performance. A word of caution here. If you are after a really quick car, you can pass the Brera. I dare not imagine how the 2.2 feels (though I suspect that the different gear ratios and the reduced weight, especially what is saved by the lack of 4WD makes things better than expected), but this car by no means feels like a quick car. I don’t doubt the numbers. Yes, the 260 hp are there… albeit a lot of them are lost on their way to the wheels, gratis the 4-wheel transmission. How much is lost? Well, local dynos have given around 262 hp but only ca 185 at the wheels. It’s not as disastrous as it may sound, just keep in mind that the Golf R32 engine which produces 10 hp less, delivers 10 hp more to the wheels (the wimpy 4 wheel drive which is in fact an upgraded traction control system is the explanation). The losses would not be much of an issue if it was not for the weight.
Having said that, the car feels much more nimble that one would expect for something that weighs (and this is an optimistic reckoning) around 1750 kilos. Ok, the nose feels a bit heavy but not really much (and I presume the 4WD is partly responsible here). Oh, and transmission losses plus a substantial face surface are quite punishing to the max speed. Ok, 240 km/h is perfectly cool for most, but bear in mind that the GTV with the previous (240 hp) engine had a max speed of 255+. Speaking of transmission, the guy who decided on the gear ratios must have been on some serious drugs. Probably the idea was to do something to cut down consumption (which is understandable for a car of this weight), but honestly there should be other ways to do that (weight anyone??). 1st gear is way too short, 2nd is o.k. 3rd is what 4rth should be. For people like me who believe that the most rewarding gear is the 3rd (am I normal? am I the only one here?) this is quite a disaster. If there was an after market option for that I would just go for it. At the time being, to the extent of my knowledge, there is no such thing.
Naturally, there are other areas of course where one could start tampering, but don’t expect miracles. I am not your typical anything-from-the factory-has-to-be replaced-right-away kind of person, but quite honestly some things just beg for it. The most value for money option: a BMC filter (or something similar). Torque is improved significantly, and so is throttle feel. Done that. Ah! Another word of caution. This is not exactly an easy operation. The place and especially the angle of the filter make things rather tricky. Next step: the Autodelta remap. Done that. They promise 14 hp plus some torque, which may not sound like much and probably it is not. I suspect that they could drain an extra 5-10 hp, but this is not quite the point. Throttle response is much improved and, yes, so is consumption (not much a priority for me, but always welcome). This is not exactly value for money though. It cost me 700 Euros in Greece (Jano came here for some days- a very pleasant dude by the way, and eloquent in Greek – I was quite shocked!), it must be cheaper in UK… but the point is that barely knowing that this exists makes your fingers itchy…so reach for your wallet. Next steps? It has to be the brakes. On paper they look good – especially 4-pot calipers and 330 mm disc on the front, but again it’s weight, weight, weight. Not that they don’t do the job- they do, but feel leaves a lot to be desired. I have to do something fast, and I know that it’s going to hurt (ideas are most welcome here).
Having read all the above, one would assume that I’m not really satisfied. Well, having read them myself I feel the same thing and yet…there is something about this car that defies logic....
I suspect the frequency that Breras are seen on the streets of UK is pretty much the same as here, which is minimal at best. At that price tag, people would normally go for obvious choices such as Z4s, TT’s and SLK’s – and you know what, they just do. BUT! Driving a Brera side by side by these people makes you feel superior to them in some eerie way. You know that most of them would kick your ass in a pedal-to-the medal confrontation, but you feel that you know much better than that. Then, it’s the head-turning factor. People never stop looking, and in many cases, asking, starting up conversations. Can you get that with an SLK? Not in a million years. You get priority parking space in hot clubs, as people are more than eager to put more expensive (and common) cars in the back, and you can’t help a smirk. Even if you are not a show-off junkie, you can’ help feeling some unprecedented vibes…and end up smiling more. And the head turning factor is not only for 3rd parties, no sir- it’s something that affects you, the owner every single morning.
Ok, this is the emotional part – but the car is a good performer in other domains. Grip, traction, cornering kick ass. Well, there is some body roll to be fair but you must have guessed already that this is a GT. Even with the old 235/45/18 tires (now 255/40/18) the situation was manageable. The suspension is really comfortable (well, too comfortable for my liking so it was replaced, but that’s another story altogether- but people watch this: the snout is too lengthy, so don’t overdo it with low coils). Oh, I heard that some people here have some qualms about the 18 inch wheels and the supposed comfort compromise. My advice: Go for it without second thoughts. Factory settings (and 45 tire profiles) are more than ok for any road, and I can attest to that, having driven the roads of Greece which make the roads of Stalingrad circa 1943 pale by comparison. Oh..and if you get any ideas that the car is going to be transformed by changing the suspension, think again. The GT genes are too deeply rooted for that to happen. Just accept the inevitable facts. A harder GT is still a GT, only harder - and possibly a GT sitting between two stools at that.
Well, I guess that’s all for the time being. I promise to be a nicer person in the future and contribute more here! See you soon.