Brera remains a great looking car - but fails in other areas
New engine impresses with its torque and sound-track
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What is it?
The Brera coupe gets a new engine (as does sister model Spider too), this down-sized, direct injection turbocharged four cylinder replacing the old 3.2 V6 with its strong 197bhp and exceptional, diesel-esque 236lb ft from 1400rpm.
This engine has helped upgrade the handsome but ageing 159 into a late-life contender, and it would be no less satisfying if the beautiful Brera were similarly transformed.
Those old enough will know that ‘1750’ has special significance in Alfa history, first as a pre-war sports car of mighty reputation, and in the late ‘60s as an iteration of the Giulia 105 Series family, which included the terrific GTV that the Brera is a descendent of.
Intriguingly, Giorgetto Giugiaro designed both cars, the first as a 22 year old on national service.
What’s it like?
When the 159 got this engine option last year there were a number of improvements to go with it, but the Brera has largely done without such attention.
So while the new engine impresses with its torque and sound-track, the car itself feels curiously leaden and unsporting, the deft poise and fluent handling that you’d expect proving as absent as it they’ve always been.
Instead, the Brera does better as long-distance cruiser especially as its interior, though beginning to date, is pleasing to look at, especially in combination with the ambience created by the glass roof.
The Alfa is relatively refined in terms of noise suppression too, but some will tire of the pattery and occasionally crashing ride that persists.
Still, only a pair of occupants is ever likely to suffer this, a glance over your shoulder revealing the still surprising sight of a pair of rear seats butting up against the backrests of the chairs in front - how so much space can go missing in a car this long remains a mystery, but whatever the answer the result is a car that barely qualifies as a two-plus-two, let alone a four-seater.
Should I buy one?
There’s no way around this - no, unless you are blindly in love with the Brera’s looks (easy to understand) and want the best engine the car has ever had. Which this 1750 motor is, and the combination of improved performance over the V6 and spectacularly improved emissions and economy unquestionably make a better car of this Brera.
But it’s not a great Alfa, nor even a good one - it has too many fundamental flaws for that, and has had too little polish to allow you to overlook them.