Alfa Romeo Brera S (2008) review

2 Oct 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Alfa Romeo Brera S (2008) review

Alfa Romeo Brera

S (2008) review

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What are the biggest changes?

During development of the Brera S, Prodrive’s engineers concentrated first on getting the spring rates right – something they reckon is seriously under-valued in many modern motors – then tuned the dampers to match. Tweaks to the geometry, ride height (the Brera S is 10mm lower than standard) – not to mention binning the Q4 four-wheel drive system on the V6 version – all help deliver a more focused package.

The Brera S also gets some very tasty 19-inch alloys. Modeled after those on the 8C Competizione supercar, these are 2kg a corner lighter than the regular 17-inch alloys.

Alfa Romeo interiors are rather handsome places in which to spend time and the #8216;S#8217; spec brings suitable enhancements. The seats are now covered in soft black Italian Frau leather with contrasting leather stitching while a plaque inset into them reinforce s the limited edition message and bears Italian and UK flags. Just don#8217;t try carrying anything other than luggage in the tiny rear pair.

In the V6 the dashboard, doors, steering wheel and gearlever are also finished in the same manner, an option on the four-cylinder model. Both get aluminium sports pedals, a six-CD changer and rear parking sensors as standard.

All sounds a bit after-market to me!

It isn’t. At all. Although Prodrive has added bespoke Eibach springs and Bilstein gas-filled monotube dampers, all the work it’s done has been fully signed off by Italy – complete durability testing included (ahem).

The Brera S even has its own stability control settings. Alfa UK and Prodrive have been working on this project for a year. Which seems a lot of effort for a run of only 500 cars.

Each one will be numbered – with certificate! – and they are exclusively available in the UK.

Which engines are available?

The Brera S is a properly engineered chassis development of the regular car, already upgraded for 2008 with hollow anti-roll bars and aluminium suspension components. Petrol only, the S is available as 185bhp 2.2 four-pot or 260bhp 3.2 V6. There are no engine enhancements but both versions weigh less.

A 35kg reduction for the 2.2 is fine, but 100kg off the V6 (it#8217;s missing Q4, don#8217;t forget) is far more impressive – resulting in stronger in-gear acceleration.

Ok, it sounds good – but how does the revised Brera drive?

Starting with the 2.2, it’s immediately apparent that there is a massive improvement in body control. Alfa helpfully had some standard 2.2 Breras on hand, and the S feels like a completely different car. It stays far flatter through every kind of corner, keeps its composure far better over broken surfaces, and while the steering remains a little numb, it is far more consistent.

The dead area at the straight-ahead position has all but vanished.

The 2.2 still isn’t a very quick car, however: 0-62mph remains 8.6 seconds, top speed 139mph. And even with a “Holmholtz resonator” attached to the exhaust, it doesn’t sound especially alluring. That’s apparently a tube stuck to the silencer, by the way…

And the Brera 3.2 V6?

The 3.2 gives you more speed – even if the stock 0-62mph in 7.0sec is still slower than a 2.0-litre turbo TT. But the added weight of the engine really screws up the chassis tuning. In an effort to keep things under control, Prodrive has used different damping, making the car stiffer. Fine on track, but a seriously bumpy ride on a B-road.

It understeers with more determination, too. A Q2 limited slip #8216;diff#8217; (it actually uses electronics to transfer torque to the wheel with more grip) is fitted as standard to both versions, but this won’t help the V6 stay online if you’re over-enthusiastic with the throttle pedal.

Verdict

If you love the looks of the Alfa Brera – and many people do – you can finally just about justify buying one from an enthusiast#8217;s perspective. The 2.2 Brera S is a much much better car to drive than its ordinary equivalent. The visual enhancements work well, too, with Prodrive labeled stone deflectors, D-shaped tailpipes, S badges, and those gorgeous 19-inch alloys adding extra charm.

The interior’s had a makeover too.

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