But Alfa's new all-wheel-drive (AWD), 3.2-litre Brera for the first time comes with the option of a 'proper' automatic.
The Japanese transmission is tucked between the Australian engine, a Torsen centre differential and an AWD system, which delivers 57% of the drive to the rear and 43% to the front wheels.
The 3.2-litre V6 engine, while sharing its lineage with the current Holden Commodore, has been heavily worked on by Alfa. Its new features, including Alfa designed heads, direct injection and variable timing of the inlet and exhaust camshafts, give a level of performance not found in the parent engine.
On the road, Brera feels every bit of its hefty 1630 kg. It's a bit slow off the mark and heavy on fuel when pushed, but its road-holding impresses. Steering is precise and nicely weighted and its big Brembo brakes work well.
The new transmission works well enough, shifts are crisp and positive, however the shift pattern tends to become a bit irregular in the cut and thrust of city traffic. The transmission's bias towards sporty driving is obvious, and it will often hold gears for much longer than would ordinarily be warranted.
Low-speed ride is firm and every pothole and bump is noticeable, while the exhaust is loud, even inside, and soon becomes annoying.
Brera rates fairly well for practicality. Its doors are large and access to the power-operated, heated front seats is reasonably good. However, the rear seat is small and narrow, headroom is limited and rear legroom is almost non-existent.
Rear visibility is restricted due to the large rear pillar and parking can be a potentially hazardous exercise.
At almost $91 000 Brera doesn't come cheap, but you do get a heap of standard equipment for your money. Seven airbags, stability control, bi-xenon headlights and a full length glass sunroof, quality sound system and leather trim are among the standard features.