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Alfa Romeo Brera 2007 Review

When the much-vaunted Brera coupe was unveiled at the 2005 Frankfurt fest, the GT was still fairly new.

Indeed, the front-wheel drive GT V6 manual had reached us only the previous year, which sold so few that a 2.0 JTS four-pot version with Selespeed robo-manual set-up was introduced. Lighter, better balanced and nowhere near as prone to rabid torque steer or crashing savagely against its stops as the V6, this was actually the better car.

Next, out came the hero Brera, priced perilously near six-figures for the top-of-the-range model with a newly direct injected 3.2 V6 and rear-biased all-wheel-drive. It was accompanied by a bum-dragger with the enhanced 2.2 four-pot JTS.

Both were manuals which, added to a too ambitious price, saw them sitting in showrooms looking pretty but unloved.

Now, accompanying an appreciable reduction in the dollars demanded, the Brera becomes the first Alfa offered with a six-speed automatic — not a Selespeed, but a legit Aisin slusher with torque converter.

Just as one of the last bastions of shifting for yourself fell, fate or whatever it is that controls product distribution at Alfa — bequeaths that Australia should at last get the GT JTS with a proper manual.

In recent weeks, we've alternated between the pinnacle V6 Brera auto and the new, but technically obsolete, GT.

It came as no great surprise to learn from Alfa's PR gaffer, that punters are strolling into showroom with stars and Breras in their eyes and leaving with a GT and a sigh.

What the latter has over the former can be defined obviously in practical terms — price, size and comfort but we are talking Alfas here.

There's no doubting the Brera's visual impact. It turns heads almost everywhere it goes, thanks to its unique styling and the fact that you just don't see many of them.

The sleek lines, curved back end, distinctive headlights and Alfa grille and beautifully contoured bonnet make it Alfa's best-looking machines behind its sibling convertible, the Spider.

But with a $90,990 (plus a BMW-beating $1750 for metallic paint!) there are a few too many let-downs.

The first issue is space, as in the lack of it. The back seats are utterly useless.

Once adjusted for comfort, there is literally no room behind either driver or passenger. Not even a sheet of paper could be slotted into the “leg room” provided in the rear cabin.

So the Brera is a two-seater affair, not a 2+2.

But for a two-seater it's also heavy, tipping the scales at around 1.7 tonnes. So it's also thirsty. Even on the freeway, the best we could achieve was around 13 litres per 100km. Given a push, it slugged down upwards of 20.

At least the V6 JTS was more than capable of lugging the weight.

The wonderful-sounding engine produces a healthy 322Nm at 4500rpm and 191kW at 6300 — enough to get the Brera to 100km/h from standing in a claimed 7.0 seconds.

The auto is meant to attract soft cogs who can't be bothered to change gear — most of the population in other words. But the manual is not only more fun but actually more functional than the indecisive auto.

Far too often it struggles to find the right gear in many situations. Using the steering-wheel-mounted paddles in manual mode was unrewarding, with the gearbox prematurely overriding you or ignoring your inputs.

This was particularly distracting on tighter roads, where keeping the V6 above 4500 revs was key to maintaining momentum. Inside our blue test car, we were greeted with an unusual mix of red-tan and blue leather — yes, blue surrounded by blocks of brushed aluminium.

After the initial shock, the colour combo actually grows on you, and even the highly reflective block of aluminium between the driver and passenger begins to look good.

Of course, looking good is what the whole deal's about, which is no small part why Alfisti are continuing to opt for the ostensibly old-hat GT.

Built on the old 156 Sportwagon platform, within the GT boasts the most pleasant cabin of any current Alfas — combining the best of the 156 and soon-to-be-replaced 147.

Behind the comfortable front thrones (the right with its good old long arm/short leg driving position) are what could reasonably be called seats.

The GT's long-throw manual is a cog shy of the equivalent Brera, but the former's five speeds are better chosen than the too-tall gearing of the latter.

The new 2.2 JTS delivers significantly more power and torque than the GT's 121kW/206Nm 2.0, but this has only 1320kg to move — 150kg less than the four-cylinder Brera. Its note is also less muted, closer to the lovely rasping TwinSpark of yore.

All-round visibility is hopeless in the GT. Quaint ergonomics aside, though, sensibly softer 17-inch shoes make it friendlier than the newer comer; its sound manual gearbox makes it more fun. And an ask of $52,990 (metallic paint is “only” $950) clinches the deal.

If this soapie saga went to script, the GT should have been left jealous and fretting behind the scenes by the arrival of the Brera. Instead, the older player still manages to upstage the newer.



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Range and Specs

2.2 JTS 2.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $7,040 – 9,900 2007 Alfa Romeo Brera 2007 2.2 JTS Pricing and Specs
3.2 JTS V6 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $7,700 – 10,890 2007 Alfa Romeo Brera 2007 3.2 JTS V6 Pricing and Specs
Paul Pottinger
Contributing Journalist


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