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Alfa Romeo Brera 2006 review


That might have applied a decade ago but now, when sedans shriek "look at me", you have to look under the finely-creased sheet metal and glittering lighting array to detect real class. That's why the latest of the keenly-awaited range from resurgent Alfa Romeo deserves more than a passing glance.

Yes, they are cute – someone called them sexy – but the reality is that, following the back of a Brera through the gloom and drizzle of North Sydney the other day, what we saw was a small car with a derisory back seat and economy boot.

Nuzzle up to the rear end of a Crossfire and at least you can get . a giggle; follow an Alfa and... mmm, another smart coupe. Even with the swooping V-shaped tailgate.

The drab colour schemes on offer don't help. Then again, Alfa likes to call it understated. Then you spot the badge. It's bang in the middle of the boot lid and serves as the handle. The badge should say it all – Italian auto engineering at its best. Style. Comfort.

Stick the right badge on the wrong product and think Rover . . . and shudder.

But the legendary Italian company, which comes under the Fiat umbrella, has tapped into its illustrious pedigree and has taken no chances with its growing range of quick, pretty machines, from the three-door 147 through to the new flagship Brera JTS V6.

They work well, feel good and give trophy hunters their money's worth.

In the case of the top-of-therange V6 all-wheel drive, think nearly $95,000 of rib-tickling performance, superb handling and tireless front seat comfort. And then you see the long, fixed glass roof, almost nudging your hairline and wonder what would happen if the retractable liner didn't retract. On a hot day. Sitting in traffic.

Turning to the rear accommodation we can only say Alfa didn't design this as a family car. Just throw your coat and laptop in the back and forget it. With the seats folded there is at least a boot big enough for a suitcase and a set of clubs.

Now comes the really good bit, the meld of strong but subtle power and intense road-hugging produced by rigid platform and highly-tuned suspension. The V6 puts out 191kW of power at 6200rpm and 322Nm at 4500rpm. Insert the dash key, press the starter and pat the pedal for a reassuring high-pitched burble from the back.

The 3.2-litre direct-injection V6 is harnessed by a six-speed manual transmission and puts power to the ground through a clever all-wheel drivemix favouring the rear wheels. An automatic is on the cards next year.

The self-locking diffs send drive torque 57 per cent to the rear but shifts to where the 18-inch alloys say it's wanted. Acceleration is a fairly brisk 6.8 seconds for 100km with no loss of traction.

The $69,990 model lacks none of the looks and specs of its glamour partner but expect to work the 2.2-litre harder around hills, especially when revs sink in third. Alfa is not looking at volume in this range but thinks it can eye off Audi TT, Chrysler Crossfire and Nissan 350z GT in similar price range.

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Range and Specs

2.2 JTS 2.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $6,490 – 9,130 2006 Alfa Romeo Brera 2006 2.2 JTS Pricing and Specs
3.2 JTS V6 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $8,800 – 12,430 2006 Alfa Romeo Brera 2006 3.2 JTS V6 Pricing and Specs
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