Future Models - Alfa Romeo Brera
Alfa Romeo Brera will stalk Porsche 911
Holden-powered: Brera will use an Aussie-built twin-turbo V6 punching out 350kW.
Alfa Romeo confirms Brera for production - as the Porsche 911's fiercest rival yet!
27 December 2002
YOU'RE looking at what will become the most serious Alfa Romeo ever produced: a supercar to match the acclaimed Porsche 911 - and it will be powered by a 350kW twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre version of Holden's forthcoming alloy V6.
That's right, the red-blooded Italian sports car-maker used last week's Bologna motor show to announce that the Berera concept car will go into production - not as the next generation GTV coupe, as widely expected, but as Alfa's first serious foray into the production supercar world.
Appearing for the first time at the 2002 Geneva motor show, Brera is the combined work of Italian styling houses Giugiaro and ItalDesign. Commissioned by Alfa Romeo, the styling houses were asked to present their take on a future Alfa two-plus-two sports coupe.
Brera is powered by a Ferarri/Maserati-sourced 300kW longitudinal V8 engine of more than 4.0-litres capacity, mounted behind the front axle, driving all four wheels and employing a rear-mounted six-speed sequential transmission and differential to offer optimum weight distribution.
While ItalDesign is quick to point out that the system can easily be adapted to produce a conventional rear-wheel drivetrain, it is believed this layout will be ditched in favour of a more conventional four-wheel powertrain including the Holden-sourced V6.
Preliminary claimed specifications for the concept car include a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 4.9 seconds, and the twin-turbo V6 producing "somewhere between 450 and 500 horsepower" should easily match that figure.
The Brera's front-end styling is inspired by 1950s Alfas, with the hollow-shaped bonnet sloping downward to the marque's legendary emblem. The rear draws cues from the latest 156 and 147 Alfas, as well as the Giuletta Sprint, tapering downward to a seamless bumper.
The stylish new bodyshell, draped over underpinnings from the new Maserati Spyder and Coupe (Maserati is owned by Ferrari, whose majority shareholder is Fiat Auto, which also owns Alfa Romeo) is entirely carbon-fibre and measures 4388mm long, 1894mm wide and 1289mm high.
This is a true two-plus-two with even the designers conceding there is only enough room in the rear to seat children.
Although they are unlikely to reach production, Brera's doors open upwards once you have pushed and turned a handle that fits flush to the bodywork. Courtesy of some clever hinges, they swing up and away from the car. Giugiaro says regular doors will not detract from the concept's appeal.
There is also a light-sensitive sunroof that darkens to regulate brightness in the interior, while the interior is appropriately swathed in leather and aluminium, and a prominent centre tunnel and console separates the passengers.
* Alfa Romeo CEO Daniele Bandiera also used the Bologna show to reveal that no fewer than 16 new products, including 10 all-new models, will be added to the Alfa Romeo range between now and 2007.
Apart from the 911-chasing supercar, which may carry the Brera name into production during 2005, he said these included a new Alfa Romeo medium-sized sports four-wheel drive to rival BMW's X5 mud-plugger, due by 2006.
Despite parent company Fiat's financial woes, Mr Bandiera also foreshadowed Alfa's intention to match the likes of BMW model for model by confirming Giorgio Giugiaro will design at least four variants of the 156 replacement to appear globally from from 2005.
The 157 range will continue to comprise a four-door sedan and five-door Sportwagon, but this time expect a four-seater convertible model to rival the new Audi A4 Cabriolet and a B-pillarless coupe to take the next GTV back to its four-seater/two-door roots. The latter will come complete with all-wheel drive.
The same new platform underpins the 166-replacing 167, which will be exclusively all-wheel drive and available in both sedan and coupe body styles.
But while all this happens in 2005, an all-new Spider will be the first next generation Alfa to arrive - before a 147 facelift in 2004. Set to spearhead the brand's return to the US, the wild new Spider will feature just two seats, a folding metal roof and, eventually, both front and four-wheel drivetrains.
While Brera will get Holden's full-house twin-turbo V6, a version of the 2004 VZ Commodore's high-output naturally aspirated 3.8 HFV6 is likely to be reserved for GTA versions of both the 167 sedan and coupe, and the 157 sedan, GTV coupe, Sportwagon and cabrio - and maybe even the Alfa off-roader.
Before all that, however, 2003 will see the arrival here of the 147 GTA, plus long-awaited automatic transmission variants of 147 and 156, and the 156 GTA Selespeed.
Then, to appear at next year's Frankfurt motor show in September, a 147-style two-door to challenge Peugeot's 406 coupe as the most affordable four-seat coupe will revive the Sprint moniker. Some say the Bertone-designed coupe, the last new product from the current Alfa platform, will lob here from early 2004 for around $60,000.
Finally, just to confuse matters further, Mr Bandiera revealed in Bologna the Alfa Romeo 156 GTA-m, a 222kW version of the 156 GTA that uses the 156 racing car as its basis and which could go into limited production in 2003.