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Old 07-23-2006, 12:37 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Belgium
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Default Alfa Romeo Brera 2.4 JTDm


Somewhere in June Alfa contacted me, asking if I would want to test drive some of their cars. Of course I couldn't resist and signed up for the new Brera. I was hoping for a 3.2 V6. But being realistic - I'm living in a diesel country - a diesel would be waiting for me. And indeed, it was a 2.4 JTDm. Boring diesel in boring silver. Luckily the interior colour combo made up for it: nice red/beige leather combo. The test driving time was limited so I only took a few pics and concentrated mostly on the driving part. Due do the lack of test driving time, I couldn't test the handling and chassis extensively. But I think I could make up some good first impressions.

Specs test car

Brera 2.4 JTD Sky View
with optional 18 235/45 wheels

2.4 5-cylinder turbodiesel engine
200 hp @ 4000 rpm
400 Nm @ 2000 rpm
6M gearbox

topspeed: 228 km/h
0-100 km/h: 8,1 s (*)
0-1000 m: 28,7 s (*)

weight standard car: 1600 kg

*: maybe add an extra second due to the weight of all the extra options.


Alfa Romeo and gorgeous cars go hand in hand, with a few exceptions. Also this new coupe is beautifully crafted. The front is just perfection, though I'm not 100% convinced by the rear. Not that it isn't beautiful, but it could have been better. IMO it's to bulky compared to the sexy nose of the car. Also the big C pillars make live harder to exit a tight parking backwards.


The Italian style continues on the inside. Though it is less frivolous compared to previous Alfas, it still stands out from the crowd and quality improved. The glass roof adds to the pleasant environment inside. Finding a good driving position isn't hard, but the car lacks headroom for taller guys like me. Not to mention the back seats, they are a joke. Though perfect for small children and as an extra luggage space, I wouldn't want to be seated in one of them.

How does it drive?

Well it's a diesel. Even though they improved a lot in recent years, I still prefer the character of a petrol engine. On the other hand, this is a very powerful (200 hp) and torqy (400 Nm) engine. And surprisingly the sound above 4000 rpm is pretty musical: the diesel knock is overruled by a metal sound at this point. However it may not sound as musical as a 5 cylinder petrol engine at 4000 rpm, it sounds better then some damped small 4 cylinder engines in this rev range. So the sound at high revs (for a diesel) surprised me, but the performance at low revs didn't. There is one big turbo to deliver max 2.6 bar(g) to all 5 cylinders, and it show. Below 2000 rpm there's nobody home at the turbo residence. Due to the big turbo lag the engine feels dead below 2000 rpm. But when passing the 2000 rpm, suddenly the turbo awakens and all boost breaks lose, resulting in a lot of torque between 2000 and 4000 rpm. And this sudden available torque works addictive The downside is you always want to keep the engine between 2000 and 4000 rpm, which doesn't help the fuel economy. Certainly if you take into account the big number this car shows when it rolls onto the weight balance. The Brera is a heavyweight! And weight doesn't help performance. So I was a bit disappointed with the straight line performance, knowing there were 200 Italian horses under the bonnet and 400 Nm of torque.

Enough enginetalk, let's take on the handling. When I slipped my ass into the red leather seats and embraced the 3-spoke Alfa wheel with my hands, I was expecting the handling of a grown up Alfa GT: better balanced but still sharp on the edge, an animal that likes to be thrown from corner to corner. But that isn't the case. The Brera's chassis is so matured compared to the GT, it's more a cruiser than a sporty coupe. This immediately shows when turning the steering wheel. It's direct, but it's also vague compared to the GT. I didn't feel as connected with the front wheels as I did in his little brother. Also the suspension is set up for comfort rather than sporty potentials, resulting in a stable but understeering behaviour. Judging from the looks, one would expect a vivid handling animal, but this theory isn't the case. On the other hand the comfort levels are good. The cabin is quite and airy. And the suspension damps most potholes. Thanks to the direct steer and short wheel base, you're not completely detached from the driving experience. A pretty sollid package for a comfy cruiser.

Things I liked

- looks
- comfort
- engine note at high revs (for a diesel)

Things I disliked

- engine feels dead below 2000 rpm
- high weight ruins performance
- interior space


The Brera is a good and beautiful looking 2-seat long distance cruiser, but don't expect the handling of a sports car. And unless there are strong economical reasons, mind the 2.4 JTD and go for the 3.2 V6, unless you're also happy with the performance of the 2.2 JTS.
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