Brera V6

It is amazing what a change of ownership can do.

Before the Second World War Alfa Romeo had a well earned reputation for producing very fast and well built cars. Fair enough many of them were not very practical and they were usually very expensive but they were fun to drive and high quality.

After the war things were different. They had to recognise that money was short, particularly in Italy, and so they concentrated on mass-producing cheaper cars. Quality suffered and along with it went their reputation. Profitability slumped and by 1986 the Italian government agency that owned the company sold it to Fiat. There was an injection of fresh capital, fresh ideas and a new dynamism.

Fiat felt that it was important to recapture the past glories of Alfa Romeo sports cars and in the Brera V6 which was launched in 2005 they had a range of sports coupes and roadsters with the muscle, features and quality of finish to be able to compete with rivals such as Porsche and BMW.

The Brera V6 was designed by top Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro and assembled by Pinninfarina at their plant in Turin. It was meant to be not only sporty but luxurious as well; sporty it certainly was and luxurious it was to a degree; any driver and front passenger over 6 feet tall would find it cramped, and anyone in the back seats would have to be either rather tiny or have no legs because headroom was cramped and legroom was virtually non-existent. Enough of the downside though. This was a powerful and sporty car that was extreme fun to drive.

The power plant was a 3.2 litre V6 with quad cams and 24 valves; power was enhanced by modifications such as direct fuel injection and variable valve timing. This resulted in a power output of 260 brake horsepower. Despite the fact that it was built on a platform designed for front wheel drive the designers felt that putting so much power through the front wheels only could cause handling problems and so a very clever system was devised to drive all four wheels but put up to 75% of the power to the axle that could make the most use of it. The result was an extremely surefooted car even under awful weather conditions and over poor road surfaces. Later on however they relented; a front wheel drive version became available and although it was not as fast at the getaway, since the power was going through just two wheels and not four, it had a higher top speed of up to 155 mph, and a nought to 100 km/h in a very creditable seven seconds. All this power came at a price of course; petrol consumption could rarely get above 25 mpg and CO2 emissions put it in the top UK road tax bracket. However you would not buy a car like this for reasons of economy!

Apart from the V-6 the Brera range included a 2 litre and 2.4 litre turbodiesel, 1.75 litre turbocharged petrol engine and a 2.2 litre straight four petrol unit. Between 2005 and the last remaining ones been sold off in 2011 more than 21,700 Breras were sold altogether.

Next - the 8C Competizione