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Alfa Romeo Open Air: 2015 4C Spider

By Arv Voss, July 18th, 2015

The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe is such an awe-inspiring driving machine, one wonders what Alfa could possibly top it? An open-air version, of course! Enter the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider.

The all-new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider builds upon the brand's direction with the impressive combination of technology, performance, and Italian style.

To point out that the 4C Spider is indeed sleek and sexy would constitute a major understatement. The mid-engine roadster's proportions showcase essential elements that blend harmoniously, directly contributing to its light weight, precise function, and elevated performance attributes.

The mechanical makeup of the two-seat 4C Spider is identical to that of the Alfa 4C Coupe, as is the basic design. The primary difference between the Coupe and the 4C Spider is in the top and rear hatch execution, and it only weighs 22 pounds more.

The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider recalls the brand's legendary sporting tradition and continuing the stellar performance attributes with its innovative all-aluminum, mid-mounted turbocharged, intercooled, direct injection, inline four-cylinder engine that delivers an impressive 237 horsepower at 6,000 rpm along with 258 lb.-ft. of torque in a range from 2200 to 4,250 rpm (136 horsepower per liter).

The 4C is equipped with four self-ventilating perforated discs and Brembo four-piston aluminum calipers at the front axle. To ensure maximum grip, and to keep 4C planted firmly to the road, are the staggered diameter and width performance wheels and tires. Both the standard 17-inch front and 18-inch rear, or the optional forged 18-inch front and 19-inch wheel and tire combinations feature a larger rear wheel for crisp handling.

The dramatic visual impact of the Alfa Romeo 4C begins at the front with Alfa's signature inverted triangle or shield-shaped mesh grille flanked by large air inlets that follow the lower body contour. A "V" character line is sculpted around the grille, through the hood to the base of the "A" pillar, and past the pronounced front fenders, which house the jewel-like headlamp assemblies that possess an arachnid-like quality at night. The sweeping shoulder line slides up over the raised rear fender curve, ultimately wrapping around into the integrated rear spoiler.

The top features a manually removable cloth panel that fits between the windshield header and a special halo hoop aft of the passenger compartment, and rolls and stows away in the trunk. An optional carbon fiber panel is available to fit in the Targa-like opening.

Wheelwells fit tightly around the wheels and tires accentuating the 4C Spider's low stance. Split dual exhaust outlets fit into the blacked-out rear diffuser.

The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider's compact dimensions are unique, adding to its lightweight and agile handling properties. It is only 157.5 inches long, 73.5 inches wide, with an extremely low 46.7 inches in overall height.

The interior showcases an exposed carbon fiber monocoque that surrounds the cabin, highlighting the exotic coupe's lightweight and purposeful technology, with an elemental aura set off by the driver-oriented cockpit featuring a flat-bottom steering wheel. The Alfa 4C Spider is first and foremost a driver's car, or more specifically, a serious, exotic, high-performance sports coupe with supercar proportions and credentials.

The dashboard and door panels feature an "asphalt" treatment that stylists selected to convey a maximum driving sensation from the road. The dashboard is a thermoformed shell, similar to those found in ultra-exotic supercars and is available fully wrapped in premium leather.

Both front and rear suspensions are made from aluminum and high-strength steel. The 4C is designed with stiffer springs, larger front- and rear-sway bars, and re-tuned shock absorbers for the North American market. In keeping with enthusiast desires, the steering is manual with no power assist to ensure maximum agility and road feel.

I was able to experience seat and wheel time in the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider in and around Monterey, Calif., and the Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. My 4C Spider test car wore an exterior finished in Rosso Competizione (Competition Red) and featured a black interior. The base price was set at $63,900.

The roadster is not a car for everybody, but it is sure to delight "dyed-in-the-wool" purists who want to go fast in comfort and in control. In terms of its performance, acceleration, braking, and steering all deliver basic, pure sensations. This, my friends, is a true sports car -- with no superfluous control systems to invade the raw joy of driving.

The manual, non-assisted steering can take a little getting used to at slow speeds, but ultimately deliver a direct, controlled sensation, not normally found in many of today's sports cars. The Alfa 4C Spider stays flat and planted with handling characteristics that offer a "seat-of-your-pants" style of confidence-and-control feedback.

The dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters provides instantaneous and smooth gear transitions, with better-than-manual results, though I'm sure there are those who would still prefer a standard transmission. Gears and mode selections are chosen by four buttons on the console: one for Auto/Manual, one for reverse, one for forward, and one for Neutral.

strong>Let's face it: This is a small car, not meant for long-legged passengers. The driver-oriented instrument panel curves into and invades the passenger space while the dash also extends more rearward on the passenger side, making it difficult to attain the ideal seating position for really tall passengers. Headroom, however, is not an issue whether the top panel is removed or in place -- there is plenty.

The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is perhaps best described as an exotic mini-super car, capable of providing a most enjoyable driving experience.

Specifications

Base price $63,900 (as tested: $73,395)
Curb weight 2,487 lbs.
Displacement 1.8-liter
Engine type 16-valve DOHC turbocharged 4-cyl. w/DI
Epa mileage rating 24 mpg city, 34 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 10.5 gal.
Horsepower (net) 237 at 6000 rpm
Overall length 157.5 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 258 at 2200-4250 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 2-passenger compact RWD roadster
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