Brera started life in 2002 when it was premiered as a concept car for Alfa Romeo. Styled by the legendary Italian Giugiaro it looked stunning. Sadly the original’s gull wing doors haven’t made it into production but almost everything else has. Built by Pininfarina the production hardtop Brera is stealing hearts and the Spider (convertible) is on the way!

Brera shares its front-end look with the 159 and is ‘jaw droppingly’ pretty. The pillar-less doors allow access to the cabin and once inside you’ll feel well catered for. The leather seats in my test car are electrically adjustable. Trim materials used are of a decent standard too. The panoramic glass roof is huge but even with my seat set to the lowest position headroom is compromised. In true Alfa Romeo tradition all the dials and instruments are for the exclusive use of the driver and behind the wheel you feel that bit more special.

Brera shares about 55% of its ‘bits’ with the Alfa Romeo 159 saloon but sits on a shorter chassis. This makes handling interesting. In your rear view mirror you can be forgiven for thinking it’s a 159 (no shame there) but it is the rear end of the new coupe that is the big talking point. Brera looks like a cross between an AMC Pacer from Wayne’s World and a Honda Civic hatch that’s been to the gym. Brera is a strict 2+2 coupe. Driver and passenger get all the space while in the rear there is accommodation for two contortionists or kids with their legs crossed! The boot is massive by old GTV standards at 300 litres. If you need more space the rear seats fold down to free up a very useful amount of space.

My €57,000 test car is the range topping 3.2 litre V6 Q4 (all wheel drive). With a 0-100km/h time of 6.8 seconds this is a genuine sporting coupe. It not only looks great but sounds beautiful too.

Handling is well sorted and Brembo brakes are on hand to scrub off excess speed when needed. ‘Hill Hold’, which stops the car rolling backwards unintentionally is standard with Q4. The all wheel drive set up on my car (Q4) is clever, super stable and biased to the rear wheels. VDC (vehicle dynamic control) is standard. This important safety aid helps keep the car on the straight and narrow should things get hairy.

A 2.2 petrol Brera is available as the entry level model (€48,000) and a 2.4 JTD diesel with 200bhp and 400nm of torque is rolling out of the factory as I write. The Spider, which does without the rear seats to make way for the folding roof mechanism will be the hot drop top to have so order yours now for next year.

It is impossible to talk about any Alfa Romeo and not discuss the Italian company’s appalling reputation for poor reliability. The company seems to have turned a corner as its new boss knows this is a burning issue. Only time will tell with Brera so if you are taking the Alfa plunge I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you just in case. My test car had a slightly rocky driver’s seat and condensation in the rear light cluster, but other than that it had no head wrecking problems. Brera is a beautiful car.

Michael Sheridan