Alfa Romeo Brera – New Contender

I’ve been considering what to pick up for our east-coast Australia driving trip later this year. How you get there is almost as important as where you go, right?

The latest thoughts, as documented in my 2013 Automotive Bucket List, were leaning towards a Porsche Boxster S. The early ones have reached the point of affordability and while it wouldn’t be the most practical vehicle for a 3,000+km road trip – it’s not exactly known for its luggage space – it would be one hell of a nice way to see the countryside.

I’d not considered the Alfa Romeo Brera for my bucket list and/or drive trip simply because I thought it would be too new and unaffordable. I should have known, however, that depreciation has already kicked in on this most beautiful of coupes and even the Q4 V6 models are now creeping into the sub-$30K arena.

For that money, you get the V6 version from 2006-7 with around 70,000kms or less on the clock. The V6 is GM’s high-feature V6 and therefore it’s not as pretty as Alfa’s own as used in the 156, GTV and others. It’s the same basic engine used in the Saab Turbo X and what it lacks in prettiness, it makes up for in grunt. The V6 is 3.2 litres but non-turbo, with Alfa heads, valves, direct injection and an Alfa ECU to make it a thoroughly different beast putting out around 260hp. That’s mated to a six-speed gearbox and a rear-biased four-wheel-drive system that can shove around 75% of the power either forward or back.

Equipment levels are high with all the airbags and electronic doo-dads of the time. The only thing that might be missing from a 2006-7 model would be USB music and maybe Bluetooth, both of which could be added aftermarket.

The BIG bonus is that the suggestion met with resounding approval here at home this evening. Mrs Swade was cautiously approving (as she does) but young Mr Swade was very positive indeed. He’d been receptive to the idea of the Boxster, but let’s just say he wasn’t jumping for joy. When I mentioned the Brera, he almost had to hide his mid-section in order to maintain his modesty (the Brera has that effect, you know).

The Alfa Romeo Brera isn’t known for its luggage space but compared the Boxster it’s as practical as a Ford Transit van. You get a real roof (with panoramic glass) to keep your small stuff in the back seat safe as well as a hatchback rear-end.

And then there’s the way it looks. Parental guidance recommended……

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It won’t be as dynamic to drive as a Boxster and it certainly won’t hold its value like a Boxster, but then it’s achingly beautiful to look at, quite unique on Australian roads and reportedly a very decent car to drive, too.

I don’t know what will happen but it’s definitely not a one-horse race anymore.

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