The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Alfa Romeo Brera coupe is significantly better to look at than to drive. Still, it's a beautiful car that will appeal very strongly to the style conscious.
Reasons to buy:
- Beautiful styling
- Great engines
How good does it look?
When it comes to relatively affordable cars with drop-dead gorgeous styling, nothing can compete with the Alfa Romeo Brera coupe. The profile is enough to stop onlookers in their tracks, but when you add in the details such as the slimline headlamps and tail lights along with the heavily-tapered bonnet and oversized Alfa grille, it all adds up to something special.
What's the interior like?
The cabin of the Alfa Romeo Brera could never have come from Germany or Japan. So many details make this cabin a special place to sit, from the individual housings for each instrument to the lashings of brushed alloy and luxuriously sculpted seats.
How practical is it?
Although it’s billed as a coupe, the Alfa Romeo Brera is really more of a hatchback that doesn’t offer the practicality of one. Despite its relatively upright tailgate, rear seat space is disappointing and the boot can stow just 300 litres. With the rear seats folded forward this jumps to 610 litres. Equivalent figures for the Audi TT are 290 and 700 litres, while the Volkswagen Scirocco can muster 312 and 1,006 litres.
What's it like to drive?
Sparkling handling should be the hallmark of any Alfa Romeo, but sadly for the Brera that’s not the case here. The car is too heavy, there’s too much body roll and the car feels awkward when pushed hard through bends. However, the steering is accurate and the ride on 17-inch alloys is more comfortable than you might expect. Posher versions get 18-inch alloys however, which firms up the ride.
How powerful is it?
If performance is your priority, the Brera 3.2 JTS does 0-62mph in just seven seconds, has a top speed of 155mph and is available with either four- or front-wheel drive. Also available is the excellent 1750TBi petrol unit that’s powerful, smooth and economical, too. It has a 146mph top speed and does 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds. If you prefer diesel power, the 2-litre JTDm does 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds and tops out at 135mph, though performance junkies will prefer the 2.4-litre JTDm which cuts the 0-62mph sprint down to 7.9secs and manages 144mph.
How much will it cost me?
Buy a petrol-engined Alfa Romeo Brera and you can expect steep running costs because of the thirst and higher road tax rates. While the 1750TBi is the most frugal petrol engine, it still kicks out CO2 emissions of 189g/km and only manages an average 34.9mpg. The 3.2 JTS averages around 25mpg and has emissions of 260g/km – or 270g/km for the four-wheel drive edition. This is why the diesel engines make more sense. The 2-litre JTDm is muscular with its 266lb/ft of pulling power but it’s economical too, at 52.3mpg and 142g/km of CO2 emissions. If you want more muscle though, the 2.4-litre JTDm offers a fabulous 295lb/ft of pulling power, and can still average 41.5mpg.
How reliable is it?
While Alfa Romeo’s reputation for unreliability is no longer fully deserved, its cars aren’t generally screwed together with the attention to detail of some rivals such as the Audi TT or Nissan 370Z. Niggles include uneven tyre wear, temperamental brake servos (leading to a lack of power assistance for the brakes) and electrics that don’t always behave.
How safe is it?
The Brera hasn’t been crash-tested, but it’s based on the Alfa Romeo 159’s platform. That car carries a maximum five-star EuroNCAP rating, so the Brera should be pretty safe too. It certainly comes with plenty of standard safety equipment, such as driver and passenger front airbags, plus front side, window and driver’s knee airbags. There’s also electronic stability programme, electronic brake force distribution, traction control and pre-tensioners for the front seatbelts.
How much equipment do I get?
Every Brera gets a decent amount of standard kit including dual-zone climate control, remote central locking, electric windows and cruise control. Rear parking sensors, a six-speaker stereo, multi-function computer and 17-inch alloy wheels are also included. Posher editions also get leather interior trim and paddle shifts for the transmission, as long as they’re equipped with the Q-Tronic semi-automatic gearbox. On the options list are a better stereo, alloy wheels up to 19 inches in diameter, a panoramic glass roof, tyre pressure monitoring system and sat-nav.
The Alfa Romeo Brera has more soul than anything else at this price, and it looks stunning too, despite first appearing over five years ago.