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Alfa Romeo Brera Review
Alfa Romeo Brera Review
Alfa Romeo Brera Review
by Kevin Hackett

Model Tested:
2010 Alfa Romeo Brera, turbocharged five-cylinder, diesel, six-speed manual transmission

Style over substance. Let’s get one thing out of the way here: the Alfa Romeo Brera isn’t as good as it looks. How could it be? In a world awash with androgynous sporting coupes, it stands out as a beacon of taste and flair – it’s an example of Giugiaro working at the height of his powers and, wherever you go in one, heads are turned. When was the last time you strained your neck to check out the Audi TT driving past you in town?

Launched some five years ago to replace the rakish GTV, to be fair, it moved the game on significantly for Alfa. My cousin once visited me in a GTV Spider that was all of six months old. Painted black and trimmed in gorgeous tan leather upholstery, I fell immediately in lust with it but after ten minutes behind its wheel I’d had enough. Because it started to rain. It wasn’t the operation of its roof that was the problem or the cabin noise that angered me. It was the fact that rainwater was entering the driver’s footwell in alarming quantities. On a six month old car? Come on! Absolutely disgraceful.

Alfa Romeo knew damn well that it had to sharpen up its act with the Brera. Having wowed potential customers with the ItalDesign show car in 2003, the company bowed to public pressure and put it into production. The show car had been based on a Maserati but the production model ended up being built around the architecture of the less exotic Alfa Romeo 159, with which it shares some obvious design cues inside and out, as well as engines and transmissions.

Alfa Romeo Brera Review
Alfa Romeo Brera Review
Alfa Romeo Brera Review
Alfa Romeo Brera Review

And it’s design that the Brera scores so highly on. It’s an absolutely beautiful thing to behold and still looks as fresh today as it did in late 2005, when us hacks first got to experience it. It does look a bit dumpy when viewed from the side but from the rear, the front or front/rear three quarters, it’s sensational. A high waist and low roof line give an unmistakable coupé stance and the triple lamp arrangement up front lends an angry, macho look that perfectly combines with the feminine touches elsewhere. The dark glass roof panel that my car was fitted with looks brilliant, too.

But it’s not all sweetness and light with the Brera, as you might have guessed. Open the door and climb in. First impressions? Light years ahead of the GTV this thing replaced. The dashboard design shows Alfa’s priority is the driver with the aluminium trimmed centre console angled towards him or her. Deeply cowled instruments nestle behind the wheel – very Alfa – and the wheel itself is nicely styled. It all looks lovely.

However, the seats are positioned so high that taller drivers may have to get their coupé thrills elsewhere, especially if the Brera in question hasn’t been fitted with that glass roof. The column stalks look nice enough but their edges are rough and cheap to the touch, while the gear shifter feels similarly nasty. But it’s in the rear accommodation that the joke wears rather thin because the rear seats are totally, utterly useless. We’re used to smallish coupés having cramped rears but the Brera takes this to another level. For amputees only.

Alfa Romeo Brera Review
Alfa Romeo Brera Review
Alfa Romeo Brera Review
Alfa Romeo Brera Review

The rear load area isn’t so bad, though, with a useful 300 litre capacity – impressive for a car of its type. But even here Alfa has allowed substance to give way to style because the shape of the hatch opening makes it awkward to load heavy or bulky items. Practical this ain’t. But forget that sensible nonsense – this is an Alfa! What’s it like where it matters most – on the open road?

Ok, actually, but not brilliant. First, the good bits: it sounds nice, even with a diesel engine but especially with the 3.2-litre V6 petrol unit.

In 2007 the Brera range was extended with a 2.4-litre, five cylinder JTDm engine and I’ve driven both this and the V6 models. It’s comfortable, too, unless you’re in a Brera S, which features a lower ride height and stiffer suspension. This causes the car to crash about on uneven road surfaces and structural rigidity isn’t exactly a Brera strong point.

The steering is very quick, indeed, which gives a feeling of agility at low speeds but, once you start upping the pace a bit, it makes the Brera feel nervous and twitchy – something that wouldn’t be so bad if there was any real poke to its performance. The fact is though, that no Brera, not even the lusty V6, feels anything like fast. It’s a heavy car, particularly in V6 form because that comes with four-wheel drive. With the diesel motor there’s horrendous turbo lag to contend with, as if things weren’t bad enough already. Seriously, come out of a bend at a fairly normal speed and, if you’ve allowed the revs to come off the boil, when you put your foot down…. nothing. You find yourself checking the rev counter to see if the engine’s still running and looking in the rear view mirror to make sure nobody’s about to smack into the back of you.

Alfa Romeo Brera Review
Alfa Romeo Brera Review
Alfa Romeo Brera Review
Alfa Romeo Brera Review

Get up enough speed to start attacking some twisty road sections and the Brera simply understeers, something that’s particularly noticeable in the four-wheel drive V6. It’s as though apexes and Breras are, and always will be, complete strangers. So the only way to get any real enjoyment in a Brera is to adjust your driving style, forgetting any sporting connotations and recalibrating your brain to see it as more of a relaxed cruiser.

Do this, calm it down and lower your expectations and then this Alfa makes much more sense. The gearbox does feel notchy so perhaps sir would prefer an automatic? Well if we’re viewing it as more of a relaxed cruiser rather than a sports coupé, then what the hell? Slushbox it is, then.

Perhaps you think I’m being unduly harsh on the Brera but we need to be. Because it simply isn’t good enough to worry the likes of the Audi TT, Nissan 370Z or BMW 1 Series Coupé. Even the Peugeot RCZ has it licked in practically every area and, in light of the really rather good Alfa Romeo Giulietta, the Brera feels hopelessly outdated.

Yet I still find myself lusting after a Brera from time to time while scouring the classifieds. Cars that are just four years old can be had for a third of what they cost new and the depreciation curve won’t get any less steep over the next few years. Pretty soon you’ll be able to pick one up for the price of a decent laptop and that’s when I think I’ll take the plunge. I won’t drive it anywhere, though, oh no. I’ll just look at it.

Alfa Romeo Brera Review
Alfa Romeo Brera Review

When the Brera’s replacement comes along, if Alfa can continue the fine progress it’s made recently with the Mito and Giulietta, and if the looks remain as sexy as this, it could be a truly exceptional car. For now, the Brera is a true example of style over substance and, for some, that doesn’t matter one bit. If all you want from a coupé is individuality then look no further. But if you want it to thrill you when you’re behind the wheel and possibly seat a couple of passengers in the rear, there’s a growing choice out there that won’t include this Alfa Romeo.

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  • Luke

    I may be alone here, but this Alfa just does nothing for me in the looks department (unlike the 159). It looks awkward from the side, bulbous from the rear, and even though the front lights look muscular and angry it just doesn’t make up for what it lacks. Too bad the driving dynamics don’t make up for it.

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au Anthony Crawford

      The pics don’t quite do the Brera justice. This is one very sexy car in the flesh, pity about it’s overall performance, which doesn’t match the styling.

    • Yonny

      Each to their own, but I think the Brera is just about the best looking car I have ever seen. Ever.

      I know looking good doesn’t mean it is good, but if I had say a six-car garage and the money to fill it, I’d buy one of these just to look at.

  • Octavian

    If only Mazda or Honda did a good version of this, then there would be form with substance for less dosh. I’d personally have a Scirocco over this and save many dollars, if only Volkswagen Australia chose to import the bloody car.

    • Shak

      Speaking of the Scirocco, i spotted one on the Hume Highway in Liverpool yesterday. It got me really excited to see it as i have never seen one in the metal. I took a couple pics then everyone started beeping.

  • Homer

    Maybe Alfa should outsource everything other than the body and interior design, to VW, or Honda, or Mazda, or well…. anyone. It’s a shame to see so much design talent wasted on what is overall a crap product.

  • MattP

    The thing that hurts most about buying any Alfa is the excruciating depreciation.

    That is a bog big price to pay for buying a handsome car.

    Every time a 159 goes past, especially the turbodiesel, my heart wants one badly but then my wallet reminds me that I do not have a money tree.

  • Shak

    CA, is the 3.6 still sourced from GM Holden?

    • Roadtard

      Shak, it’s a 3.2, but I know where you’re coming from. Your question is why doesn’t the Holden engine sound this good. Car Advice?

      • jojo

        The Alfa sounds so good because their engineers worked on all the moving bits from the block up to suit their needs and have it sounding as close as to their old 3.0V6 from Arese.

        If you going to criticise the alfa gearbox C/A for sluggish performance or putting your foot down only to find nothing happening then look no further than VW Group under engineered DSG. Every serious reviewer and even owners here on C/A have raised concerns about it.

        • Al Juraj

          The 3.6 SIDI sells way better than it sounds, and that would suffice for Holden. For ultimate music, nothing beats the Bimmer straight-six!

        • gmac

          I love my DSG in the GTI. Wouldn’t consider a manual again after driving this

  • laurie

    There is also the reliability factor to be considered

    • Johnno

      Laurie – your perceptions/prejudices of ALfa are outdated. In Germanys own JD power survery in 2009, ALFA tied second to Mercedes for driver satisfaction and reliability (lexus came first). I have had 2 Alfas in a row now and they ahve been more reliable than my new Merc and older Mitsubishi Verada………..

  • Lars

    I owned 2 Alfas in the past and I like Brera. As with all Alfas, your heart says yes, your head says no. Plenty of character but it may disappoint you. If you are prepared to look after it properly get one second hand and laugh.

  • Baddass

    I love the looks, notsomuch the rest of the package. I’d probably take a 159 or Spider over this. IMO their styling is better from all angles. Dead sexy.

  • The Realist

    Who on earth buys Alfas in Oz??

    • Martin

      My neighbour apparently. lol. They have a black 159 2.4 JTD. It’s quite the delight to see it parked outside sometimes. Great looking car.

  • pleasethetruth

    why is this review even here? Every driver knows that this car is a waste of steel. It has been around so long and is poor. It’s like reviewing the SSV or any Commodore and pretending it’s a good car

    • Radbloke

      Cool story bro

  • cools

    still a cool looking car, but starting to get a little outdated I reckon….a few years back, it was like a piece of art…I find it getting old now

    sometimes it’s not about speed, and I realise the acceleration of this car is slower than a pushbike….but it’s about the looks of a car…I’m sure people aren’t driving around 60’s classics because they go like stink

  • John Anthony, MD

    I have owned 5 VW Golfs, 1 Mercedes 230, 1 BMW528i, 1 Acura Integra sport coupe, and now a Saab 9.5 turbo. I do enjoy German automotive products, except for the constant maintenance, but there are other contenders for my “affection”. In the last 2 years travelling in Italy and Serbia, I had the opportunity to drive an Alfa Romeo 147 with a 5-speed manual transmission and a 1.6L 120bp petrol engine through the mountains of Northern Italy; the car was a rental. Moreover I drove a colleague’s 2009 Alfa Romeo Brera 3.2 L V6 from Belgrade through Montenegro to the shores of the Adriatic. I’d never driven an Italian car before but now have a better grasp of why the Italians dominate racing and as such I’m confused by Mr Kitchen’s comments. The cars I drove exhibited exceptional performance, handling, and driveability and the little 147 cruised at 200 kph effortlessly! Are you kidding me? Though it pains me to admit it, my Golfs, BMW or Acura could never compete with either of these cars; I would say my Saab 9.5 comes closest; it matches the 147 in top speed. Quite frankly Mr. Kitchen, I have grave doubts whether a BMW 1 series or an Audi TT could even match the 147, let alone the Brera.

    • Homer

      John I’ll give you one thing, to come out publicly and say you own a SAAB takes balls. Your comments re the 147 being better than a 1 series or TT confirm why you would own a SAAB.

  • kowalski

    Am I missing something here? Given that I cant see any engine specs in the article above (are the specs a secret Kevin?) I went to the Alfa website. Was interested in comparing the alfa 2.4 diesel to that in my XC60. Alfa show no such thing as a diesel Brera being available, 2.2 and 3.2 petrols are all that is listed. What gives?

    • Dan

      I don’t believe the diesel Brera was ever sold in Oz. I presume that the article (written by an journalist based in the UK) was not a local car test.

      And CA – how about pictures of a MY2010 car to match the review, instead of photos from the car’s UK launch in 2006?

      • kowalski

        Thanks Dan.
        I didnt realise that CA used syndicated content. Question to CA……why show us reviews of cars that we cant but in Australia? If you are going to run this sort of content, at least declare it up front and explain that the vehicle may not be available in Australia. Poor form CA!

      • NotTheStig

        What a waste of space this article was. Old photos of a different car.

        I hope you didn’t pay someone for this tripe…

  • John Anthony, MD

    Homer, I’ll assume your comments are sincere and not an attempt at pithy sarcasm. My BMW 528i, which required 4 regular maintenance calls per year, performed rather poorly in the winter driving conditions of Canada, largely because of rear-wheel drive and a rather primitive ABS/traction control system. My wife shunned the car completely. I have not compared the 147/Brera in Canadian driving conditions but on the open road the 528i performance fell well short of the 47/Brera; I assumed the BMW 1 series was not the equal of my 528. If my conclusions upset your prejudices, I am truly sorry. I am fortunate to be able to drive a car of my choosing and, parenthetically I drove a Porsche Targa for 6 months before the car nearly drove me insane with maintenance issues. The SAAB (254 hp) is a superb sports sedan, and like Volvo, performs well in our fall/winter climate. Try one, you’ll love it.


    • Homer

      John Anthony, you’re not related to Camry Lover per chance are you?

  • Johnno

    This is an overseas article as the diesel version of the Brera is not sold in OZ. All articles doing reviews of cars that are Italian on this web site are from overseas. Dissapointingly, Ateco (importers of ALFA in OZ) for some reason wont lend CA cars to review.
    I had an ALFA GTV 3 litre V6 in 2000-2005. I tested it against the competitors in the form of the TT, WRX, etc. All these cars outperformed and out handled the GTV but by God the sound and driving experience was sensational. I couldnt hand the keys back! It was uncomfortable, drank like a V8, understeered and was utterly impractical. However, it made me smile every time I drove it and I couldnt help but look back at when I parked it. The sound, the direct steering, the gearbox, and the rarity offered a “little extra”. I sold it eventually when the “bambinos” came along and got a 156JTS. Both cars were more reliable than my Mitsubishi Verada that I had for work. I am now in the market for a second had BRERA. I lament the loss of the ARESE v6 and the car may not stand up to the “track enthusiast” whom needs to be the fastest on the day. The reality is that in our congested streets of Sydney, driving from appointment to appointment, the Brera offers enough “Squirt” and reliability to get me around in style with a smile on my face.

  • kazuo

    I was going to buy this before purchase Audi TT. after test drived it its very ordinary compare to normal saloon.overall its less practical and expensive to service.

  • http://www.pakmela.com Shazi gul

    Review is great and car pictures and beautiful. thanks for sharing valuable information

  • HPfromOz

    When it comes to Alfas, you either get it or you don’t.

    Apologies to those who don’t.

  • MotorMouth

    I’ve had a 2.2 Brera for nearly two years now and I absolutely love it! It is far and away the best car I have ever owned. Every part of it is so much better than anything else I’ve had in 25 years of owning and driving cars. The 2.2 is a beautiful engine, with bags of torque from idle and power that keeps running all the way through to the 7000rom redline. It feels more like a V6 than a non-turbo four most of the time, despite the car’s weight. First and second are quite low gears, so it gets off the line really well. It’s 0-100 time would be much better if you needn’t need to grab third gear at 85 -90km/h. 0-60 time is amazing for a car of it’s power/weight.
    The ride is nothing to write home about (but it is better than the RX7 I owned in the 1990s) but there is nothing wrong with the handling, at least up to 8/10ths. Beyond that it may well exhibit understeer but I can go through urban roundabouts at ridiculous speeds without any problems.
    It has been so good for me that I am seriously considering buying one of the 40 new 1750TBi models they are going to bring out this year. If that engine can be tuned to put out the same 173kW as it does in the Giulietta QV, it could be surprisingly quick. I’d also consider a Giulietta but it is very bland to look at and the interior is a bit boring. Mind you, once you get used the interior of a Brera/159, most others do seem bland.

    • Endy

      i agree to 99% of all the above apart from the last bit about the interior…i agree 1000% to that :))

  • MotorMouth

    Sorry for all the typos above, I can’t see a thing on my laptop screen. I’ve been driving for 35 years, not 25, and I was trying to say the Brera’s 0-100 time would be better if you didn’t need to grab third at 85-90.

  • Cobus

    I own 8 Alfas, from a ’69 Junior, 3Spiders. 2Gtv’s, a 3.2Gt and a 3.2Brera. All of them are fantastic in their own way and they all drive differently (still best handling). Buy what you want and stick to it because you paid for it. Can you emagine that there were millions of people that bought Toyota Camry’s, that says it all. Don’t critisize something that you can’t afford. Drive your TT or VW or DSG-gearbox and try and be happy, I know it is painfull but force yourself, you bought it.

  • Gen

    I bought my Brera new in 2007 and love the look of it. however I have had 5 sets of visors fitted , first ones were only 6 months old. They perish in the sun and snap off. Alpha won’t rep,ace them so I can’t use them which isn’t safe when the sun is in your eyes. My car alarm goes off of no reason . Has alo done this since new, causing drain on the battery life and wakes us up at night. My workmates and neighbours get annoyed but no one knows how to fix this problem. If u google brera sun visors and alarm problems you will find Im Not alone with these problems.

Alfa Romeo Brera Specs

Car Details
1750 TBi
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$30,250 - $34,380
Dealer Retail
$30,620 - $36,410
Dealer Trade
$23,500 - $27,500
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
320Nm @  1400rpm
Max. Power
147kW @  5000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
8.1L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:1450  Unbrake:500
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
235/40 R19
Rear Tyres
235/40 R19
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
Double wishbone, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Multi-link system, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Control & Handling
Vehicle Stability Control
Trip Computer
Optional Features
Metallic Paint
Service Interval
12 months /  20,000 kms
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Front Floor
Country of Origin