Formally, Brera is the successor of compact GTV that inherited the status of a coupe, though someone will consider the profile already threateningly close to a “simple” hatchback. However, it does not make the car less beautiful. Technically it is possible to call the Brera a three-door variation of a little bit less rare model 159: they are not simply built on the same platform, but have identical stuffing and even have common body elements. Only the wheelbase of the coupe is shorter, by 17 centimeters at once, due to what the rear seats were compressed down to the size of a glove compartment, and seating formula has turned into windy 2+2. Brera debuted at the same Geneva Motor Show in 2005, as the related sedan, and stayed in production almost until 2010. If the sedan and wagon 159 are based at the Alfa Romeo plant, the Brera and its open-top version with the name Spider were produced at the facilities of Pininfarina. The total circulation turned out to be modest: in total about 33 thousand coupes and cabriolets were produced. No wonder that in Russia Brera is a real exclusive: for example, at the time of writing the article on Avito only four copies are on sale. Let’s look, than besides rarity the search can be complicated.
Despite the fact that Brera can’t be called an expensive car, the condition of the body of most cars is kept in very decent condition due to the status of the favorite toy. And in general, it is easier to timely touch up chips and repaint swollen elements, than to look for repair parts. Besides, the zinc coating is able to protect the most part of body, loosing its power only in problematic zones, like front sills, edges of arches and bottoms of doors. In the “risk zones” like the same sills or the front outer edge of the rear wing, there was even a protective film from the factory. But with the years it becomes yellow and spoils the look, and not everyone takes the trouble to replace it with a new one – often it is simply removed. On the frontal part, it is worth inspecting not only the hood and windshield frame for chipping and corrosion, but also the bumper. Even the damage of small plastic element like a branded radiator grill is a reason to haggle, since the cost of spare parts is exorbitant, but we shall talk about it below.
For now, let’s continue to move from top to bottom in the inspection of the body. On the outside, problems are still very possible, but not serious. For example, the door stops are not durable and quickly start creaking. But taking into account low cost of even original parts and availability of non-original parts, the squeak is rather a reason to think about avarice of the owner. The same concerns window lifters: they do not differ a resource even on 159, and on Brera with its big glasses it is twice as urgent. It is necessary to examine the doors not only from below, in the area of bolting, but also on external edge for chipping. But the biggest problems can be hidden in inner cavities and underbody. The internal space of wheel arches is the abode of moisture and rust, and it is worth to look here as deeply as possible. Well, from below, it is necessary to pay attention to subframe, especially to front one, which becomes simply rotten with time. Points of subframe and suspension mounts are also in the zone of risk, so the best variant is a car which has seen anticorrosion regularly.
Even at the purchase of some cheap and mass fan-car like Hyundai Coupe, many people are surprised at the prices for body parts, and for such exclusive car as Brera it is a fact for sure. Here, it is rather possible to be surprised and glad that a front wing can be bought for mere kopecks, and the hood can be non-original, even if it costs 30 thousand, a little bit cheaper than the “firm” one. It is explained in many respects by unification of these parts with 159 sedan. The windshield from Pilkington for 13 thousand is also a real gift of fate, because the original one costs 6 times more. But at some point the luck runs out. Doors, for example, have a six-figure price tag on 159 and Brera, but to find a part for a coupe at a disassembly is like winning a lottery. The trunk lid costs about hundred thousand, and the fact that for a sedan it also can be only original for 70 thousand is not consoling. But it is not only the iron that can upset: even nobody from third-party manufacturers wanted to mess with bumpers. As a result, the plastic detail costs unthinkable money. Even the cracked from time false radiator grill will cost 25 thousand rubles. In general, the rule “not to get in an accident” is triply actual for Brera.
The Brera’s suspension design is in keeping with the premium image, without economy and cheapening. In the front it is the scheme with double transversal levers, and in the rear – multilever. All this, certainly, increases requirements for regularity and quality of service: only good service promises original driving habits. However, from the point of view of maintenance costs, unification with 159 helps: the assortment of not-original components is wide, and prices are moderate. If it seemed to you that for Alfa Romeo even stabilizer rods will cost hundreds of euros, then substitutes from 400 rubles will become a discovery. Yes, standard ball joints are replaced with levers, but, for example, the front upper arm can be bought for 3-5 thousand instead of 30 for the original. Shock absorbers from KYB, Monroe and Sachs will cost 4-6 thousand per piece round, and the assortment of silentblocks promises not always to buy assembled levers. There are, of course, risk points like those rotten subframes, which are impossible to buy, and the big rear longitudinal arm costs about 50 thousand. But it is necessary to be defined at the stage of examination before purchase.
It is necessary to examine brakes at the same stage. Certainly, they are disk brakes on both axles, but structurally there are variants. Basic in front were simple single-piston mechanisms with floating bracket and 305-mm disks, but usually it is four-piston machines and disks for 330 mm. Behind, the difference in mechanisms is not so striking, but also here the base brakes are non-ventilated, and on more powerful versions there are already “valves” of larger diameter. Accordingly, with suspicions on the stuck calipers, stretched handbrake cables, passing through the interior, and pipelines which have not seen care for a long time, the bargain will be proportionally different. But it will be necessary to lay basically money for work on re-building, because expendables in the form of disks and pads are available in wide assortment and inexpensive.
The power steering is also nothing to worry about. The steering rack here is also common with 159, and for it even available remanufactured replacement assemblies for 30-40 thousand, and reassembly is absolutely real. CPS pump depends on the engine, but the price of the original ranges around 70k anyway, so we are more interested in analogues for 10-15k. During inspection here it is traditional to check lines for leaks, pump for noise and oil condition for its freshness. If everything is good, it will probably stay so for some tens of thousands kilometers.
As well as the flatbed 159, the Brera has an optional four-wheel drive. And here it is quite honest permanent, realized with the help of Torsen differential. We shall leave driving advantages and pleasure out of brackets, and here we shall mention that at inspection besides work of a full drive actually it is necessary to ask about freshness of oil in a transfer gearbox and a rear reduction gear, and also about condition of a cardan. Cardan can be named as one of chronic diseases: problems with it cause appreciable vibration at acceleration, and naturally the cardan is replaced as a whole. Besides this cardan vibration in motion can be caused by drives, especially rear, so an active test-drive of four-wheel drive car before buying is very desirable.
There were several gearboxes installed on the Brera: in addition to the six-speed manual, there were two automatic transmission options – a Selespeed robot and a classic six-speed automatic. In short, there are no frankly unsuccessful variants in this list – it is possible to be guided by own preferences and available offers. But let’s stop in detail on each of the boxes.
Fiat and GM worked together on the platform on which the Brera is built, giving Alfa Romeo the lion’s share of engines and transmissions from GM and, in particular, from Opel. The Brera has not got the basic atmospheric engines up to 2 liters, as 159 has, and it has deprived it of fragile five-speed Opel MCP with index F17. So the basic manual here is the six-speed M32 from Getrag, which is quite sturdy and reliable, especially with the gasoline four-cylinder engine. It is not eternal, of course, and sooner or later the bearings die here, which is aggravated by oil leaks. At inspection, therefore, you should listen to the box on an elevator and inquire about service regulations, and ideally – to check oil level and condition. With a 3.2 engine, this box is more difficult, so if you have a four-wheel drive car with V6 in front of you, you need to be especially vigilant. And don’t forget that original clutch costs “a little over 30”, and there are non-original offers not for all powertrains. Well, dual-mass flywheels will sooner or later make you think about an expensive repair or a little less expensive replacement with a set with a one-piece flywheel.
The Selespeed robotized box is based on the same M32. Structurally it is a usual robot with one clutch, and it works quite decently by their standards. There are not many problems with “iron”, taking into account the initial, and even clutch has good service life. Certainly, all delights of simple robotized transmissions are here in full measure: regular adaptation of clutch, slow shifts and jerks will be for sure. In many respects the features of the box are smoothed by well adjusted manual control with shift buttons on a steering wheel. However, the strong jerks and problems during gear shifting are usually the sign of the problems, and more often – the electrical ones, since the Magneti Marelli stuffing is not reliable. In this case, the next question will be the service center where the gearbox can be properly diagnosed and repaired. If you have one in your town, everything will be fine.
If it is not available, it is possible to look in the side of powerful cars with the classical automatic machine, which had the marketing name Q-Tronic on Alfa Romeo. Actually, it is usual automatic transmission from Aisin with index TF80SC. On Brera, its main enemies are dirty oil and low-performance system of its cooling, which can finish off the automatic device up to 200 thousand kilometers. Oil replacement at least once in 40-50 thousand kilometers and installation of the external radiator is a way to success, but now, when cars are already 10-15 years old, we should rather speak about dates of last repair and volumes of the enclosed money.
Brera, as we already know, has got slightly less motors, than 159, but there is also nothing to be upset about – all basic variants are there. The base engine is petrol 2,2 engine with 182 hp, and increase of power can be achieved in two ways. It is either volume increase with 3,2-liter V6 with 256 hp, or supercharging, which the 1,75-liter 200-powered motor TBi has appeared in the last years of release. However, it, as well as 2 and 2,4-liter diesels, can be left out of the brackets: they are rather rare, and in Russia at the moment of writing the material not a single car has been sold with these engines. They are not unsuccessful variants: diesels are rather good with the corrections for age, remaining life of fuel equipment, supercharging and EGR. So if you allow, that a beautiful coupe can rattle unaristocratically, it is possible to consider to buy both four- and five-cylinder diesel engine.
In reality, however, it is more likely to have to choose between two gasoline variants, both going back to Opel engines. The four-cylinder engine has a chain timing, phasing controls on the intake and exhaust and direct injection. If replacement of timing belt is not too expensive, then the phasers shock with prices over 70 thousand and absence of standard replacements, and direct injection is about 30 thousand injectors and 80 thousand for injection valve, which is not human, especially taking into account limited service life. During diagnostics, it is worthy to be sure in absence of oil leaks, inherited from Opel, and in cleanliness of an intake, and also to check cooling system leakages. The latter is especially unpleasant, as the pump is driven by the chain with balancer shafts and oil pump, and its replacement is connected with partial disassembly of the timing. More powerful 6-cylinder atmospheric engine also has a chain drive timing mechanism and also marked with direct injection. The price of injectors and fuel injection pump is even higher, and besides the engine is hotter than in-line 4, so the requirements to cleanliness of cooling system are even higher. In general, despite the quite decent reliability of both units, you should be ready to look for options for repair or selection of fuel equipment, so the repair will not cost a quarter of the car.
And now, having briefly understood what is fraught with craving for beauty, we can make a portrait of the optimal copy. Or not – as we have already understood, from the point of view of technology you can buy practically any variant, so the main question is the limited choice. If you are thoroughly in love and want to buy Brera for a long time, it is necessary to decide whether you are ready for the transport tax in 40 thousand in exchange for capacity of V6 engine and a full drive, or front drive and 4 cylinders, which have no influence on magnificent appearance. The second variant seems more rational in the long term, so there is a sense to look at approximately such car: a well-groomed coupe with run about 100 thousand kilometers, a 2,2-liter motor and a manual gearbox. And if Autotech will confirm a fair run and trouble-free history, and the engine with a gearbox won’t upset the problems, the union of a car and a person will be long and mutually pleasant. After all, ruinous all-consuming love is beautiful only in books.