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Next section meeting - Thursday 31 August at The Bull Hotel, Bull Lane, Wrotham, Kent, TN15 7RF.

Personal impressions of the first month with my Brera

Contributed by Marion McKelvie

 

Delivery day minus 6 months or so

I finally realise that my poor old GTV has to go after 5 years of sterling service. I’ve been thinking about what to get instead for some time and decide that I will order a Brera, for the first time buying a car that I’ve never seen. There’s no Alfa dealer particularly close, so I ring up one not too far away and have a pleasant chat with the sales chap who can tell me virtually nothing. I seem to know more about the car than he does, having read up on the net in advance. I place a generic order anyway, providing my credit card details for a deposit.

 

D-day minus 4 months or so

Having heard absolutely nothing, I ring the Alfa dealer again. This time I’m told that they are in the process of losing the Alfa dealership and my order will be passed to another dealer, although they can’t tell me which. My only consolation is that the deposit was never taken from the credit card. A couple of weeks later, having heard nothing, I decide to call in at a dealership nearer to where I live which has just gained the Alfa franchise. There are no Alfas on display, which is not a good sign. However, I have another pleasant chat and this time there’s a little more meat on the bones including some potential dates for availability, after the sales chap calls another dealership to find out more details. A couple of weeks later, I hear directly from the other dealership and finally feel that I may actually be able to get the car I want. Three dealerships later, I place the order again, for a 3.2 JTS V6 Q4. Surely Alfa GB can make more information available sooner to dealerships on forthcoming models? I doubt if anyone who is not an Alfisti would have been as persistent as I have had to be and that means lost sales.

 

D-day minus 3 months or so

I get a video message with a picture of a blue Brera – hurray, suddenly it all seems to be more real.

 

D-day minus 1

I’m not helped by my insurance company issuing the wrong policy twice. Thanks to Julian at SGT for sticking with it!

 

D-day

At last, the car arrives and looks great (shame about the remains of some sticky labels left around the mirrors and the lack of pre-delivery service stamp in the book)! I’m at work but have a quick spin at lunchtime. Later, there’s lengthy discussions with colleagues about the need, or otherwise, to ‘run in’ a modern new car. “Oh, look after it a bit to begin with, nothing over 3000 revs for the first so many miles (anything between 500 and 2000)” or “no, you don’t need to run in a new car at all, are you mad”? Is this the way to differentiate between car enthusiasts and those people completely indifferent to cars? I drive home in a sit-up-and-beg position because the steering wheel is far too high. Get home and work out how to lower it. I have to wait until my ‘other half’ comes home and then we go for evening drive which includes a trip to the supermarket. Look at all that space in the boot! Our house has a very steep drive and the uphill start assist feature is noticeable immediately. It seemed a bit odd at first, given I was stopping and not wanting to do an uphill start. I soon work it out though and actually it works well.

 

First impressions – nice touches

I like the key fob key and the push button start – excellent! The twin exhausts look good and sound good too, although I had to be outside the car to realise! It’s remarkably quiet inside. The ride is much smoother than the GTV and the whole car has a feeling of solidity. The mirrors turn in without looking comic. The glass roof is excellent and the ‘curtain’ slides smoothly. The 18,000 mile service interval is an added bonus, especially given the amount of miles I’m doing at the moment.

 

First impressions – not so good touches

The dials on the dash are grey on grey and completely disappear when I drove under trees in the shade. They can also disappear in bright sunshine. It’s difficult to believe, but it looks like there’s even less leg room for the back seats than there was in the GTV. While we’re on minor quibbles, I couldn’t fit the manuals pouch in the glove compartment without an awful lot of shoving!

 

D-day + 1

I have to drive up to Bedfordshire for work. I manage to forget to take any CDs so I have to listen to the news for far too long. The sound system sounds good after a bit of rebalancing and setting of appropriate defaults on the radio (I have the standard Blaupunkt system). Ah, I need to visit a petrol station already. OK, the engine is more than 50% bigger than the one I had in the GTV. In fact, the engine seems to fill the engine-bay to overflowing, with no space even for those awful plastic covers which seem to have been introduced in recent years.

 

Second impressions

Who needs to see the dial detail anyway? The needle is clear enough - it’s 0mph at 6 o’clock, 50mph at 9 o’clock and 100mph at 12 o’clock. They do look good when they’re lit up though. As for the back seats, I think I had someone sit in the back of the GTV only 3 times during the whole 5 years I had the car.

 

D-day + 3 (the weekend)

There’s major work being done on next door’s drive and the car alarm goes off even though no-one seems to be near the car. Hopefully it won’t turn out to be a dodgy alarm…

 

D-day + 1 week

It’s too hot – I have to keep the roof curtain shut to keep out the heat! The car alarm goes off again for no apparent reason.

 

D-day + 2 weeks

 

We go away on holiday for a week, so I take both key fobs to make sure the car doesn’t disappear if the house is broken into (I joke not, it’s happened to me before).

 

D-day + 3 weeks

The car is ‘run in’ now, as far as I’m concerned, so I’m definitely having more fun driving (although I did let that Subaru get away at the lights). I haven’t got access to a track to drive on or, I suppose, the right skills to put the car properly though its paces, so I’ll leave the detailed drive analysis to more professional reviewers. I will say I find it great fun to drive and I certainly don’t feel the steering to be heavy, as some reviewers have commented, although I have the standard 17” wheels. Back to Bedfordshire for work again, this time with CDs. I can’t store them anywhere, though – too tall for the central arm rest box (which appears to be designed for a couple of drinks cans) and not enough space in the glove compartment with the manuals already in it. I decide it’s a big mistake not getting the CD changer and will be adding one immediately (good job it’s my birthday soon!). There are more plus points on the practical side - we can even get my other half’s bike in the boot with the back seats down, although admittedly it is a folding bike, and the five-hole wheels are really easy to wash! There is still one warning light that I haven’t worked out what it means…

 

Overall impression

Definitely the right decision!

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