The Brera arrived late in 2005 to whoops of delight at its exterior and interior styling but disappointment over its pace and handling – a criticism that would be addressed with the arrival in 1998 of the lightened, limited-run 2.2 and 3.2 S Prodrive models but never silenced.
Launch engines were a choice of 182bhp 2.2 and spine-tingling 256bhp 3.2 V6 petrols (both GM blocks with Alfa heads) or that 2.4 diesel with 200bhp and 295lb ft of torque. The standard gearbox was a six-speed manual, although the 2.2 could be specified with optional Q-tronic auto. The V6 was fourwheel drive with a Torsen diff, the remaining Breras front-wheel drive. A front-drive 3.2 V6 arrived in 2010.
A 167bhp 2.0-litre four-pot diesel landed that same year, promising 52mpg and 0-62mph in 8.5sec. It’s worth tracking down, if only for its £145 road tax charge, compared with the 2.4’s £230. But the really interesting engine, and the best ever to find a home under the Brera’s handsome bonnet, is the 197bhp 1750 TBi. This direct-injection, turbocharged petrol unit, capable of 0-62mph in 7.5sec and a handy 34mpg, replaced the V6 in 2010.
Throughout, standard equipment included stability control, power mirrors and windows, cruise control and 17in alloy wheels. V6s and 2.4 diesels had leather trim. SV spec brought the highly desirable panoramic glass roof, plus leather and stainless steel inserts to an interior that, to this day, can still provoke gasps of delight. The soughtafter S Prodrive models gained 19in alloys, lighter and stiffer suspension and a tuned exhaust. The limited-run Italia Independent of 2010 also had 19in alloys, plus sat-nav.
Mechanics familiar with the Brera describe it as being German in feel, by which they mean solid and well made but dull. We’ll forgive them, if what they really mean is that the Brera’s quality looks are more than skin deep.
An expert’s view...
PAUL NANASBAUM, VELOCES
“I call the Brera coupé the most beautiful car in the world under £30,000. You can pick up tired ones for £2000, but nice, low-mileage models are much more expensive and holding their value. The most expensive Brera you can afford will be the best value because you won’t have to fork out for expensive repairs. My favourite? A 3.2 S Prodrive.”
Alfa Romeo Brera problems - buyer beware...
The 3.2 petrol needs three new timing chains at 100k miles (around £3000) and the 2.2 two of them at 50k (£750). Diesels need a cambelt at 60k and change the water pump at the same time because it can seize, causing the belt to fail. Oil and filter changes are ideally every 12k miles.