As some may have read in another thread, I went to Italy this month, anxiously awaiting my pre-ordered, pre-paid Lotus Elise SC from Hertz for 2 weeks of vacation pleasure with da wife. Well, upon arrival, about 1 hour after hearing the words "we're terribly sorry, but...", I climbed into a blue Alfa Brera 2.4 JTDM 6-Speed Coupe, at half the rate of the Lotus.
So, here's my review of a car we don't get here in the US yet, but I hear it is coming - and for 36 grand, I would definitely consider it if I had a long commute.
Exterior - aggressive and beautiful, got a good deal of attention all around Italy. 159's are everywhere, but not many Breras - saw just 2 others after 2500 km's of driving.
Interior - comfy and highly adjustable seats - much more support and adjustability than the seats in the 04 STi. Plastic and fake carbon abound, but it looks quite nice, keeping the price point in mind. Basically useless back seats, but good size trunk and a ski pass-through.
Power - torque from 1500 RPM's. Good acceleration - I believe car is rated for an 8 second 0-62, but it feels faster, and you are getting 90% of max acceleration with your foot only half way to the floor. Redline at 4500, but it's already falling off around 3900. Diesel racket is apparent just off idle, but gone as soon as you get into the throttle.
Handling - Tires were crappy Bridgstones - IMHO equivalent to the RE92's that came on the bugeyes. They were 17's, but the sidewalls still felt too soft to take full advantage of the cars suspension. They would scream and squeal at about .8g's, but the car was otherwise fully composed. I imagine with a set of good tires, the car would handle much better. Despite the tires, turn-in was good, and rotating the car was easy with either lift off or throttle application mid-corner. Going into a turn off throttle, it would push just a tad before going neutral and finally into oversteer. Ride was 30% softer than my M5 on comfort setting, again partially due to the tires.
Consumption - I drove over 2500 km's cruising at 200 km/hr most of the time. I didn't jot down litres/km, but did the math in my head after a couple of fill ups to kill some time - it got around 35 MPG converted. Remember, I was cruising over 100 MPH all the time, and with foot to the floor between traffic pockets... so, not too shabby at all.
To conclude, I would say it's a great looking car with good feel and potential with few mods. Just a tune and some tires would probably bring it into the sporty category, while remaining quite frugal in terms of fuel use. Not as fast as it looks, but a cool little DD. However, yes, I am still upset I didn't get the Lotus...