To me, the Alfa Brera is a lot like a statuesque supermodel. The one that will age gracefully while continuing to demand exorbitant booking fees, but wonder why it is always so easily eclipsed when a younger, more nubile model appears. This, in a nine-inch stiletto, explains my Brera dilemma – achingly beautiful, but will it be missed when something equally entrancing comes along? It’s rather pricey, too.
Driving the 2,2 JTS version of said supermodel is not a wholly unpleasant experience, though. Sink into the supportive leather seats with its enveloping driving position (though even catching a glimpse of the bonnet requires the seat to be hitched to head-grazing levels), face the sombre grey facia with instruments dotted with all the Italian I can, or need to, understand, and we’re off.
Well, almost. Some of the instruments are a bit finicky to begin with, and I would definitely have specified bigger, or separate, buttons for the steering wheel controls. The tiny, quartered buttons initially demand a fair amount of attention to operate, particularly when punched by lumpy double-jointed thumbs, but does become easier with use.
I couldn’t quite figure out how to open the boot, but who needs one with two very comfortable leather seats for the shopping bags to perch on? Once the front passengers are happily seated, the rear seats offer a laughable amount of space, and it’s doubted if even a child would be able to get comfortable in those dark and cramped rear quarters. (FYI – opening the boot requires you to raise the cover of the central armrest, reach into it and punch a button, I’m told. Whoever thought of that?)
But up front, the Brera is the epitomy of comfort and once in the sweet spot will provide oodles of fun. The sexy coupé squats down and allows itself to be guided into corners all the while lapping up admiring glances from envious passersby. Seemingly unflappable, it almost appears arrogant as it saunters along, leaving you to pop between the six cogs. Dynamically, there’s little to fault. The ride is firm without being choppy, and response from the steering is impeccable, so you always mostly assured of always going in the intended direction.
Getting the 2,2-litre Brera to sing is something else, though. While it may be compact, it is rather heavy and it always seems like something is amiss when you’re hurrying it along. It’s not the unadulterated sports car Alfa would like you to believe it is – to achieve that it would need at least two extra cylinders. This is available in the 3,2-litre Q4, but at a whopping R90 000 more.