Alfa Romeo is on the up again. Here’s how to buy one of its finest recent cars from just £3000
The new Alfa Romeo Giulia has revived interest in this famous sporting Italian car brand. It’s soon going to be cool again to have an Alfa – but if you don’t have £30,000 going spare, fear not. You can buy into this born-again brand with an equally stylish sports model for a tenth of the price.
The Alfa Romeo Brera was a two-door, four-seat coupe built between 2006 and 2011. Early cars looked better than they drove, as a heavy kerbweight blunted performance and handling, but the looks still won through for many buyers.
Disappointingly to enthusiasts, engines were derived from GM units, with Alfa heads. A 182bhp 2.2-litre petrol was flat, but a 256bhp 3.2-litre V6 was more characterful (and came with optional Q4 four-wheel drive). Better still was the offbeat 200bhp 2.4-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel, with a lower-CO2 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel arriving in 2010.
Our favourite engine also arrived in 2010 – the 1750 TBi. Producing 200bhp and 236lb ft of torque, this Alfa-designed 1742cc turbo petrol is super-smooth, responsive from very low revs and seems to perfectly suit the Brera’s GT-style nature. 34mpg wasn’t to be sniffed at, either: no wonder it saw off the thirsty V6.
All Breras came well equipped. Alfa fitted cruise control, 17-inch alloys, stability control and a suite of electrical goodies to all models, adding sexy leather trim to V6 and 2.4 diesels. SV spec is one to look out for: it featured a panoramic glass roof, leather across the board and fancy stainless steel dash trim that further enhances the stylish dashboard. There was a rare S Prodrive model too, with a suspension kit that transformed the car’s handling. These models are now much fancied by enthusiasts.
So, you’re sold. What should you look for? Well, timing chains is the biggie. You must replace them at 100,000 miles on the V6, and this costs a breathtaking £3000 (it’s not an easy job). It’s cheaper on the 2.2-litre at £750, but it’s a job you must do every 50,000 miles. The cambelts on diesel models must be changed every 60,000 miles and you must fit a new water pump at the same time, adding further cost.
Then there’s mileage-related wear to running components. Suspension springs can break, and front upper wishbones can go at around 70,000 miles. Tell-tales are knocking noises on the move. Check the rear tyres for uneven wear, which points to worn lower hub bushes. The front subframe can rust as well, and the steering rack gets tired on high-mileage cars.
Vauxhall-derived gearboxes can be problematic, and the rear propshaft bearings in Q4 four-wheel drive models can fail from just 60,000 miles. It’s a £2000 fix, so best avoided. Oh, and lots of weight and torque means 2.4-litre diesels are very heavy on front tyres.
At least the body doesn’t rust, as it’s galvanised. The interior generally seems solid too, meaning the biggest issue may be localised trim damage – from seatbelts around the door panel, and jangling keys around the ignition key.
If the cost of running a Brera and addressing these weaknesses sounds expensive, help is at hand. Alfa runs a ‘Classic Line’ scheme for models over five years old, offering discounted new parts and even refurbished components. Hopefully ensuring your heart-stopping Alfa won’t turn into a heart-breaker.
Money matters: what can I get for…
£3000-£4750: High-mileage early 2.2 JTS and 2.4 JTD
£5000-£6750: 2008-2009 cars with reasonable mileages
£7000-£8750: Well-specced JTD and JTS up to 2010; 2007 V6s
£9000-£10,500: 2009-2011 2.2, 2.4 and 3.2s
£11,000-£13,500: High-spec 2009-2010 2.2/3.2, S Prodrive
£14,000-on: The best Breras you can buy