RAC

Alfa Romeo Brera 3.2 JTS V6 Q4

With all-wheel-drive, one of the most charismatic engines in series production and a shape to die for, the Alfa Romeo Brera 3.2 JTS V6 surely can't fail. Andy Enright reports

Ten Second Review

If you're going to have a fast Alfa coupe, then why not go the whole hog? For that, you'll need the 3.2-litre V6 version of the pretty Brera. And a usefully-sized bank balance, both to run the car and to buy it in the first place. It'll be worth it though.

Background

Although it can't promise you dilithium crystals or a warp drive, there's still something redolent of Star Trek about the specification sheet of the Alfa Romeo Brera 3.2 V6. 'Twin Phaser' variable valve timing sounds intriguing as does the 'Jet Thrust Stoichiometric' combustion system. Although it's top speed of 149mph may be a little shy of the Enterprise's warp factor eight, it's still pretty respectable for terrestrial transport. And the fascia is a lot more elegant than the bank of flashing lights Lt Uhura had to put up with.

Driving Experience

Enthusiasts may well be thinking that 260bhp is an awful lot to direct through the front wheels of the car and they'd be right. Cars like the old GTV 3.2 had a real problem putting their power down to the tarmac, the result being either an overwrought traction control system or, if you switched it off, more blue smoke than an episode of Top of the Pops. Factor in a bit of wet weather and you'd easily find yourself being outstripped by something like a Land Rover Freelander away from the lights, all of which is highly frustrating when you have a thoroughbred engine to play with. This version of the Brera answers that criticism really rather neatly. Rather than rely on just the front wheels, the Brera 3.2 V6 spreads the burden amongst all four. Yes, you did read that right, this car features Alfa's Q4 all-wheel drive system, giving it some genuine all weather capability. It's properly quick too, getting to 60mph in 7 seconds and running on to a top speed of 149mph. Based on a Holden unit from Australia, this is not the 3.2-litre many will have been expecting but it's not a direct transplant, Alfa Romeo having done a whole raft of tuning and fettling in order to give it that characteristic Alfa sound. There is also the choice of a manual or Q-TRONIC gearbox.

Design and Build

Like Gene Roddenberry's finest, there's something of the Seventies about the Brera, but in the best possible way, the shape harking back to some of the most modern Alfa's in living memory such as the GTV and the Alfasud Sprint. The long nose, tapered rear and rising belt line are all classic Alfa coupe cues and the Brera shoulders its historical burden easily. Part of the reason why is a V6 engine whose bloodline can be traced right back to the classic GTV but which has been thoroughly modernised to cope with ever more stringent emissions and noise regulations. It's probably the most charismatic powerplant this side of a BMW M Roadster and one glance under the bonnet will alert you to the fact that not all cars are created equal. From the rear, the Brera looks a million dollars. Softer and more rounded than the frontal treatment, the back end features a pair of wedge-shaped tail lamps that integrate into a curvaceous bumper assembly. The arrowhead rear window and quad tailpipes are very deft styling touches. It's in profile that the changes to the Brera production car can be best appreciated. Sitting on a shorter wheelbase than the 159 saloon, the Brera's overhangs aren't actually any longer than the original show car, but appear to be so due to the short wheelbase. The distance between the leading edge of the door and the trailing edge of the front wheelarch is less than half that of that show car, losing the prototype's cartoonishly priapic bonnet length in the process. The roofline is raised as well and a conventional B-pillar has also been quietly inserted. Again, the short doors do little to enhance the elegance of the design. Let's retain some perspective though. This is still one of the best looking cars money can buy.

Market and Model

You won't buy this engine for its economy or emissions. You'll buy it for its ability to put a number on rivals from BMW, Audi and Mercedes in virtually any weather condition and at a price that undercuts these Germanic alternatives when equipment counts are taken into consideration. Thankfully, Alfa have managed to perform a cosmetic job on the powerplant such that when you pop the bonnet there are still gorgeous crackle red finishes and gleaming polished header pipes on display.

Cost of Ownership

Look at the residual figures for the Brera and they're extremely good. Even this plush Q4 holds onto a big chunk of its value after three years. When you factor in the options that many Audi and BMW owners will add that are standard fare on the Brera, it looks an even smarter selection and the three year pence per mile figure is very competitive. Still, the V6 isn't the engine to go for if you're overly concerned with running costs. For this you should turn to the diesel versions, the 2.4 JTDm with its 41mpg fuel economy figure and 179g/km carbon dioxide emissions.

Summary

The Brera V6 is a car that many enthusiasts had long urged Alfa to build. Fed up with over-wrought front wheel drive chassis, tired styling and patchy build quality, customers deserted the marque in droves. One drive in the Brera V6 should be enough to convince them to return. Let's just say the company is boldly going where it's never gone before.

The Brera V6 is a car that many enthusiasts had long urged Alfa to build. Fed up with over-wrought front wheel drive chassis, tired styling and patchy build quality, customers deserted the marque in droves. One drive in the Brera V6 should be enough to convince them to return. Let's just say the company is boldly going where it's never gone before.

The Brera V6 is a car that many enthusiasts had long urged Alfa to build. Fed up with over-wrought front wheel drive chassis, tired styling and patchy build quality, customers deserted the marque in droves. One drive in the Brera V6 should be enough to convince them to return. Let's just say the company is boldly going where it's never gone before. Enthusiasts may well be thinking that 260bhp is an awful lot to direct through the front wheels of the car and they'd be right. Cars like the old GTV 3.2 had a real problem putting their power down to the tarmac, the result being either an overwrought traction control system or, if you switched it off, more blue smoke than an episode of Top of the Pops. Factor in a bit of wet weather and you'd easily find yourself being outstripped by something like a Land Rover Freelander away from the lights, all of which is highly frustrating when you have a thoroughbred engine to play with. This version of the Brera answers that criticism really rather neatly. Rather than rely on just the front wheels, the Brera 3.2 V6 spreads the burden amongst all four. Yes, you did read that right, this car features Alfa's Q4 all-wheel drive system, giving it some genuine all weather capability. It's properly quick too, getting to 60mph in 7 seconds and running on to a top speed of 149mph. Based on a Holden unit from Australia, this is not the 3.2-litre many will have been expecting but it's not a direct transplant, Alfa Romeo having done a whole raft of tuning and fettling in order to give it that characteristic Alfa sound. There is also the choice of a manual or Q-TRONIC gearbox.

Although it can't promise you dilithium crystals or a warp drive, there's still something redolent of Star Trek about the specification sheet of the Alfa Romeo Brera 3.2 V6. 'Twin Phaser' variable valve timing sounds intriguing as does the 'Jet Thrust Stoichiometric' combustion system. Although it's top speed of 149mph may be a little shy of the Enterprise's warp factor eight, it's still pretty respectable for terrestrial transport. And the fascia is a lot more elegant than the bank of flashing lights Lt Uhura had to put up with. Like Gene Roddenberry's finest, there's something of the Seventies about the Brera, but in the best possible way, the shape harking back to some of the most modern Alfa's in living memory such as the GTV and the Alfasud Sprint. The long nose, tapered rear and rising belt line are all classic Alfa coupe cues and the Brera shoulders its historical burden easily. Part of the reason why is an engine whose bloodline can be traced right back to the classic GTV but which has been thoroughly modernised to cope with ever more stringent emissions and noise regulations. It's probably the most charismatic powerplant this side of a BMW M Roadster and one glance under the bonnet will alert you to the fact that not all cars are created equal. Enthusiasts may well be thinking that 260bhp is an awful lot to direct through the front wheels of the car and they'd be right. Cars like the old GTV 3.2 had a real problem putting their power down to the tarmac, the result being either an overwrought traction control system or, if you switched it off, more blue smoke than an episode of Top of the Pops. Factor in a bit of wet weather and you'd easily find yourself being outstripped by something like a Land Rover Freelander away from the lights, all of which is highly frustrating when you have a thoroughbred engine to play with. This version of the Brera answers that criticism really rather neatly. Rather than rely on just the front wheels, the Brera 3.2 V6 spreads the burden amongst all four. Yes, you did read that right, this car features Alfa's Q4 all-wheel drive system, giving it some genuine all weather capability. It's properly quick too, getting to 60mph in 7 seconds and running on to a top speed of 152mph. Based on a Holden unit from Australia, this is not the 3.2-litre many will have been expecting but it's not a direct transplant, Alfa Romeo having done a whole raft of tuning and fettling in order to give it that characteristic Alfa sound. The Brera V6 is a car that many enthusiasts had long urged Alfa to build. Fed up with over-wrought front wheel drive chassis, tired styling and patchy build quality, customers deserted the marque in droves. One drive in the Brera V6 should be enough to convince them to return. Let's just say the company is boldly going where it's never gone before. STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Twin front, side and knee airbags, ABS, traction and stability control, ABS with brake assist

Scores
Performance 8
Handling 6
Comfort 7
Space 6
Styling 8
Build 7
Value 5
Equipment 8
Economy 5
Depreciation 5
Insurance 7
Total 72
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