Alfa Brera

The Alfa Brera is the production version of the Brera prototype that has been widely lauded and won many awards since its debut at the Geneva Motor Show. I was surprised to learn this, as the Alfa Brera on display at the Frankfurt show is gorgeous enough to be mistaken for a concept itself. The Brera, however, will go on sale at the end of 2005. Designed by Giugiaro, the proportions of the car combine the functionality of a hatchback with the low, wide stance and long doors of a coupe. It's fetching, to say the least, and makes us salivate at the possibility of Alfa's return to the U.S. market.

The Brera will have three available engines at launch, including two gas units and one diesel. The most powerful is a 3.2L V6 producing 260 bhp. Unlike many vehicles at Frankfurt that would seem underpowered if plopped into U.S. showrooms, the Brera line has enough breadth to fit right in. The Q4 trim level, which includes the 3.2L V6, also gets Alfa?s Q4 four-wheel drive system, while all models benefit from a double wishbone front suspension and the company?s Multilink system in the rear.

What surprised us most about the Brera, and all of the Alfas on display, was its solid tactile feel. These cars, even the entry level models, feel like they?re billet strong, carved from a single hunk of metal. It?s the type of solidity usually associated with German luxury marques, but this Italian automaker seems to have found the formula and injected it into each of its models.

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