Better to drive and stunning to look at, but expensive compared to obvious rivals

What is it?

Stung by criticism of its gorgeous but overweight Brera coupe, Alfa Romeo has teamed up with Prodrive and created this: the lighter, harder Brera S.

It’s a 500-example limited edition that’s been tuned for Britain’s rutted, twisty roads by David Richard’s Prodrive team, who spent a year working on it.

Although there’s no more power on offer than before, the S is 100kg lighter than the Q4 coupe (although it does without four-wheel drive), 10mm lower, and has fifty percent stiffer Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers to improve body control, plus a new Brembo braking system.

Outside, one-off 19-inch alloys and a lower, planted stance make the Brera look more like the 2002 Giugiaro concept car than ever.

What’s it like?

The driving experience is now up to doing justice to the jaw-dropping looks. The S is more dynamic and lively on the road and the steering in particular is a well-weighted, accurate revelation compared with the standard car. It’s also pleasingly balanced and sharp through corners where the body roll that blights the standard Brera has been dialled out.

The trade-off is ride comfort, which is compromised for performance and handling. And the Pirelli P-Zero Nero sports tyres offer plenty of grip, but are noisy with it.

While the S is certainly nimbler than the standard front-drive coupe, you still feel its one and a half ton kerbweight blunting the 260bhp straight-line potential. It’s slower than you’d expect a car sporting this V6 engine to feel. And on the track, the Brembo brakes faded badly after a few hard laps of reigning in the Brera S’s curvaceous, if rather portly, mass.

Should I buy one?

The problem is the price. Alfa wants more than it would cost for a range-topping Nissan 350Z, and nearly as much as an Audi TT V6 Quattro would set you back – and the Brera S isn’t as capable as either.

Compared with the standard Brera, Prodrive’s done stirling work to make the S handle like it does. If you would have paid for the Brera’s looks but couldn’t live with the dynamic flaws, then the S is the model for you. Really, this is the Brera that Alfa should have built from day one. Shame, then, that there’ll be only 500 expensive examples.

Will Powell

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Jon Hardcastle 27 May 2008

Re: Alfa Romeo Brera S

Where cars like this are concerned, power does seem to be on the increase, but as Mazda are proving with the 2, taking weight out is also a positive move.

Alfa new at launch that the Brera and 159 were over engineered. My 159 is very heavy although handles pretty well. The re tooling exercise being undertaken at Alfa has been done to take weight out. According to some they are saving anything from 100 to 150kg's.

shiftright 27 May 2008

Re: Alfa Romeo Brera S

I agree Aldo. Alfa has always been stingy with horsepower, even as its competitors constantly increase the horsepower on their cars. Just look at what Autodelta's supercharger conversion has done for this car. 0-60 in 4.9 seconds! Alfa should work a deal with them and put it on the market as a factory option.
Aldo 26 May 2008

Re: Alfa Romeo Brera S

Why can't Alfa be done with it, and give this car the level of performance that the styling deserves!!

The problem is not weight, but the lack of BHP!! The absolute minimum BHP required for the Brera is 300BHP, ideally 350BHP to match its great looks....

Increase power and Alfa will see sales increase!! It's just not right that something that looks as fabulous as the Brera is let down by poor performance..... an area that can be solved easily....