What is it?
Stung by criticism of its gorgeous but overweight Brera coupe, Alfa Romeo has teamed up with Prodrive and created this: the lighter, harder Brera S.
It’s a 500-example limited edition that’s been tuned for Britain’s rutted, twisty roads by David Richard’s Prodrive team, who spent a year working on it.
Although there’s no more power on offer than before, the S is 100kg lighter than the Q4 coupe (although it does without four-wheel drive), 10mm lower, and has fifty percent stiffer Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers to improve body control, plus a new Brembo braking system.
Outside, one-off 19-inch alloys and a lower, planted stance make the Brera look more like the 2002 Giugiaro concept car than ever.
What’s it like?
The driving experience is now up to doing justice to the jaw-dropping looks. The S is more dynamic and lively on the road and the steering in particular is a well-weighted, accurate revelation compared with the standard car. It’s also pleasingly balanced and sharp through corners where the body roll that blights the standard Brera has been dialled out.
The trade-off is ride comfort, which is compromised for performance and handling. And the Pirelli P-Zero Nero sports tyres offer plenty of grip, but are noisy with it.
While the S is certainly nimbler than the standard front-drive coupe, you still feel its one and a half ton kerbweight blunting the 260bhp straight-line potential. It’s slower than you’d expect a car sporting this V6 engine to feel. And on the track, the Brembo brakes faded badly after a few hard laps of reigning in the Brera S’s curvaceous, if rather portly, mass.
Should I buy one?
The problem is the price. Alfa wants more than it would cost for a range-topping Nissan 350Z, and nearly as much as an Audi TT V6 Quattro would set you back – and the Brera S isn’t as capable as either.
Compared with the standard Brera, Prodrive’s done stirling work to make the S handle like it does. If you would have paid for the Brera’s looks but couldn’t live with the dynamic flaws, then the S is the model for you. Really, this is the Brera that Alfa should have built from day one. Shame, then, that there’ll be only 500 expensive examples.