Breathless after the Brera

When she saw the Alfa Romeo Brera, Dr Gwen Lewis had to get her hands on one I just love my Brera. It is quite simply the most beautiful car in the world — even my friend Louise who has no interest in cars thinks that it is gorgeous.

One of our registrars who I took on a visit with me likened it to the Batmobile. It is also a dream to drive.

Almost five years ago, I bought my first Alfa, a cute 147, a shift from the reliability of the Germans to the flair of the Italians. I enjoyed driving it for almost four years until I saw the Brera — I just had to have one. My dealer soon managed to get his hands on one. A test-drive later and it was mine.

Not only is the Brera beautiful on the exterior, the interior too is stunning with its brushed aluminium features on the dashboard and doors.

No feature has been overlooked when it comes to appearance. It is comfortable to drive, although I have read that some taller people complain about the headroom. However, my son is over 6ft tall and has no complaints.

It is a bit of a squeeze in the back but who cares, it is worth it just to have a ride in such a lovely car. In addition my Brera has a Bose sound system, which adds to the enjoyment of the drive.

My Brera is a 2.2 JTS SV version with leather seats as standard and a sliding interior roof, which reveals a tinted glass outer roof. I thought that over the winter I would have closed the roof but in fact I have enjoyed the extra daylight.

When my younger son was born, my husband, who up until that time had driven a Frogeye Sprite and then an MGA, decided that he should invest in a ‘family saloon’. He arrived home with an E-type Jaguar. So after the family survived in this for several years I find the Brera really very spacious. I would not change it for any other car — that is until I saw the gorgeous new Alfa Spider at the garage. Now that would be a squeeze for us all. 

Dr Lewis is a GP in Windsor 

WhatCar? review
The slick Alfa looks every inch the supercar, but without the stratospheric running costs. The entry-level 2.2 litre front-wheel-drive offers loads of style for £22,800 and few would suspect that beneath these rakish panels lie the fundamentals of a 159 compact exec.

Like many an Alfa before it, much of the Brera’s appeal lies under the bonnet. The 2.2 litre engine with 185bhp, gives a vibrant feel. The relatively low gearing makes it a flexible performer, even if this does mean the engine always sounds busy. Steering is sharp — the slightest twitch of the wrists has it darting for apexes. It is also extremely sensitive to whatever passes beneath the front tyres, so mid-corner ruts and bumps can be felt kicking back through the steering wheel.

Rougher surfaces cause the suspension to clunk and the car’s body to shimmy noticeably. Find a smooth ribbon of twisting Tarmac, though, and the Brera thrills, gripping corners and delivering great traction on the way out of them.

In the back, the rear chairs are all but useless because there is so little headroom or legroom. In the front, anyone over average height will need to stoop to avoid rubbing the headlining. But at least large door mirrors and reversing sensors help parking in a tight spot.

This review was published in What Car? in July 2006 

Alfa Romeo Brera 2.2 JTS
Price: £22,800
Engine size:  2,198cc/four cylinder
Acceleration: 0–60mph: 8.6sec
Top speed:  131mph
Insurance group:  15
MPG:   urban 21.7/ ex-urban 38.7/combined 30.1
What Car? verdict:       Stunning to look at, good to drive but impractical.

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