2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider: Style for Car Nuts

By Frank A. Aukofer, March 19th, 2016

The 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider two-seat convertible tantalizes we who are car nuts. Stylistically, it is a work of art.

Manufacturer photo: The 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider offers driving enthusiasts a technical, mid-engine design inspired by the brand's legendary racing history and represents the essential sportiness embedded in Alfa Romeo's DNA: handcrafted in Modena, Italy; groundbreaking and seductive Italian style; state-of-the-art Formula 1 inspired carbon fiber monocoque chassis that enables an incredible power-to-weight ratio; advanced technologies, including the all-aluminum turbocharged and intercooled engine with direct-injection and dual variable-valve timing, which enables supercar-level performance, including 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds.
Manufacturer photo: The 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider offers driving enthusiasts a technical, mid-engine design inspired by the brand's legendary racing history and represents the essential sportiness embedded in Alfa Romeo's DNA: handcrafted in Modena, Italy; groundbreaking and seductive Italian style; state-of-the-art Formula 1 inspired carbon fiber monocoque chassis that enables an incredible power-to-weight ratio; advanced technologies, including the all-aluminum turbocharged and intercooled engine with direct-injection and dual variable-valve timing, which enables supercar-level performance, including 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds.

It's analogous to the Alfa Romeo Spider of yore. From the late 1960s into the 1990s, with few changes, the Alfa Spider -- also known as the Duetto -- was lauded as one of the most beautiful sports cars ever conceived; unfortunately, it drove like a tractor.

Alfa Romeo has a glorious history. Visit the recently reopened Alfa Romeo Museum in Italy, and you can view the entire history of the world-famous nameplate. Alfa stands for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili. Classic Alfa cars sell for millions of dollars at auctions.

It's likely that same thing will happen with the 2016 4C Spider. But it will get there on looks, which, of course, are the first and last things every car buyer considers. It also has some sports car credentials, including lightweight carbon fiber construction and an engine and transmission that can propel it to 60 mph in about 4 seconds (according to independent tests), with a top speed of around 160.

Getting there certainly is exciting -- if your idea of exciting is living on the edge. Come along for a ride.

Manufacturer photo: The 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider offers driving enthusiasts a technical, mid-engine design inspired by the brand's legendary racing history and represents the essential sportiness embedded in Alfa Romeo's DNA: handcrafted in Modena, Italy; groundbreaking and seductive Italian style; state-of-the-art Formula 1 inspired carbon fiber monocoque chassis that enables an incredible power-to-weight ratio; advanced technologies, including the all-aluminum turbocharged and intercooled engine with direct-injection and dual variable-valve timing, which enables supercar-level performance, including 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds.

strong>At first look, there's no question: it's gorgeous, looking exactly like everybody expects of an Italian exotic sports car. For balance and handling, it has rear drive and a mid-engine, with the 237-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine mounted right behind the driver's shoulder blades.

Open the door and get in. Well, it takes some effort as you have to carefully insinuate your body into the passenger pod, fanny first, twisting this way and that like the dragon on the Alfa Romeo emblem. The seating actually is decent once you get installed. However, despite big side bolsters on the seats, they're down so low they don't provide much lateral support.

Though you can't see them, the pedals are metal for... well, you know. Four buttons are on the console, labeled 1 (to get going), A/M (to switch from Automatic to Manual paddle operation of the dual-clutch transmission), N (for neutral), and R (for reverse).

A toggle switch changes the driving dynamics from Weather (for soft starts in slippery conditions) to Natural and Dynamic. The last is the most aggressive, short of an all-out race mode. In any mode, the harsh ride may rattle some sensitive riders.

Light up the engine. You twist the key -- no pushbutton stuff here. It comes to life with a raucous roar. Whether in automatic or manual mode, it snarls and barks menacingly between shifts. Exciting? Yes, for folks who like to listen to steam and racing engine sounds.

Manufacturer photo: The 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider offers driving enthusiasts a technical, mid-engine design inspired by the brand's legendary racing history and represents the essential sportiness embedded in Alfa Romeo's DNA: handcrafted in Modena, Italy; groundbreaking and seductive Italian style; state-of-the-art Formula 1 inspired carbon fiber monocoque chassis that enables an incredible power-to-weight ratio; advanced technologies, including the all-aluminum turbocharged and intercooled engine with direct-injection and dual variable-valve timing, which enables supercar-level performance, including 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds.

Audio is delivered via an Alpine audio system. It's a nice unit if you listen before you start the engine. After that, you can't hear it unless you crank it way up. Manual steering requires a wrestler's muscles at low speeds. Once moving, it's easier. We would also like to see cruise control in the vehicle.

The Alfa feels at home at speed. But who drives at extra-legal speeds on perfect roads all the time? Ultimately, none of this matters: Even though priced at about 70 grand, Alfa Romeo will easily sell every Spider. Reportedly, there's already an 18-month waiting list.

Specifications

Base price $65,495 (as tested: $70,595)
Curb weight 2,487 lbs.
Displacement 1.8-liter
Engine type 16-valve 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 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 258 at 2200 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 2-passenger RWD roadster
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