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Alfa Romeo Brera 2006 review

EXPERT RATING
6

The beautiful Brera coupe, which has just gone on sale, is the most expensive Alfa ever.

The base four-cylinder Brera costs $69,950 and the all-wheel-drive V6 range-topper is $94,950.

Add the hefty $1750 for metallic paint and the V6 Brera will set you back $96,700.

Explore the 2006 Alfa Romeo Brera range

To put that in perspective, you could buy a Nissan 350Z coupe and a Mitsubishi 380 and have more than $5000 left in your pocket.

The V6 Brera's price matches it against the Mercedes-Benz 3.0-litre CLK ($95,100) and two potent models that will arrive soon — the Audi TT V6 and turbo-boosted BMW 3-Series.

That is some pretty esteemed company, but Alfa Romeo Australia marketing manager Ross Meyer says the brand is ready.

"We don't see the price as a problem," Meyer says.

"The early demand for Brera V6 is very strong. It does very well against some excellent opponents with its high level of standard equipment and performance."

Then there is the style.

The Brera first appeared at the Geneva Motor Show in 2002 as a design concept by Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro.

At that stage, Alfa Romeo had no plans to build the car, but the overwhelming response to the concept car meant the Italian carmaker just had to make it.

Alfa decided to produce the Brera as a replacement for the GTV coupe, built off the same base as the new 159 sedan.

It did some fiddling, reducing the length by 5 per cent to 4413mm and lowering the body height by 3 per cent to 1372mm.

The Brera is a 2+2, that is, a two-seater with two rear seats for children or grown ups prepared to squeeze in for short trips.

Two models are offered: a four-cylinder and a V6. Both are available with a six-speed manual only, but a six-speed automatic will be added to the options list early next year.

The base Brera is front-wheel-drive and runs a 2.2-litre four-cylinder that generates a modest 136kW and 230Nm of torque.

Standard equipment includes leather seats, dual-zone climate control, CD sound system with 10-disc stacker, glass roof section, rear parking sensor, cruise control and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Standard safety gear includes seven airbags, anti-skid brakes and electronic stability control.

The Brera four weighs 1470kg and is able to go from 0-100km/h in 8.6 seconds. Fuel use is 9.4 litres/100km of combined city and highway driving.

The AWD V6 Brera uses a General Motors-based 3.2-litre V6, the block made in Melbourne by GM Holden, though Alfa says much of the engine is its own design. The result is a six-cylinder that pumps out 191kW and 322Nm of torque.

The V6 Brera comes with all the gear of the four-cylinder model, but adds "clover leaf" alloy wheels, premium leather seats, electric heated seats, Bose premium sound, Bluetooth connection system and xenon headlights.

The extra weight of the bigger engine and AWD system pushes up the mass of the V6 Brera to 1630kg. Even so, the extra poke means it can dash from 0-100km/h in 6.8 seconds.

Fuel consumption for the more powerful Brera is 11.5 litres/100km of combined city-highway driving.

ON THE ROAD

Anyone who has flicked through Vogue can tell you fashion is expensive, but people are prepared to pay a lot just to look good.

The Alfa Brera is a case in point. If it looked plain, or just plain ugly, only the daft would hand over $70,000 for a 136kW four-cylinder.

But the Brera is beautiful. It looks simply stunning with its lovely coupe rear, wedge tail-light cluster and gorgeous lines, all of which make it stand out in traffic.

The Brera looks good on these pages, but just wait until you see it in the metal.

Looks will be enough for some people, but others will expect that an Alfa that can cost as much as $95,000 also needs to deliver the driving thrills to match.

The Alfa is competent, but the car doesn't drive as well as it looks.

It's a lot better than the GTV it replaces, which looked lovely but had a terribly loose body that affected everything from ride comfort to handling.

Alfa has stiffened the 159 and Brera bodies and the improvement is noticeable.

The Brera is a solid car that is comfortable, sits well on the road and hangs on to the tarmac through the turns.

It just isn't that exciting.

The AWD V6 is the most disappointing, because it promises so much.

It's great for Lygon St cruising, because it looks great and emits a thick and creamy six-cylinder exhaust note through its rear quad exhaust outlets at low revs.

But on winding roads such as those in NSW's Hunter Valley, where Alfa launched the car last week, the V6 Alfa just doesn't shine.

A run in some of its rivals along the same stretch of road would leave the driver beaming for hours afterwards.

The Brera's V6 engine is torquey enough, with enough muscle down low, but it is not strong up the top end of the rev range. There is also very little exhaust or induction noise to be heard when you are wringing the engine.

One of the best things about a six-cylinder is the note it belts out up the top of the rev range — just listen to the BMW in-line engines or even the 350Z Nissan V6.

It is also hard to get involved in the drive because the seats have very little support and you have to concentrate on leaning against the force of the turn, rather than just driving.

The steering doesn't give the driver much feel either.

The traction level of the Brera V6 is excellent and the car can punch out of the turns with confidence that only an AWD system can deliver.

You do feel the extra weight, though, and the car is definitely not as nimble as the four-cylinder.

The four-cylinder engine does well enough — if you are not that interested in a really sporty drive.

The Brera is a competent car that looks stunningly beautiful — just don't expect it to be a red-hot sports car.

Pricing guides

$11,410
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$8,300
Highest Price
$14,520

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
2.2 JTS 2.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $8,300 – 12,870 2006 Alfa Romeo Brera 2006 2.2 JTS Pricing and Specs
3.2 JTS V6 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $9,600 – 14,520 2006 Alfa Romeo Brera 2006 3.2 JTS V6 Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6
Pricing Guide

$8,300

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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