2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Roadster Test Drive

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  “2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider”
A race-inspired fresh air Modena Masterpiece
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Monterey, CA – The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe is an awe-inspiring driving machine. What Alfa model could possibly be able to top it? An open-air version of course. Enter the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, two seat roadster, handcrafted in Modena, Italy. The Alfa 4c Spider, like its Coupe sibling, draws from more than 100 years of functional, race proven Italian design. Obviously, there are cars that are machines that exist for the purpose of simply providing transportation. Other vehicles fall expressly into the category of rolling art capable of stirring one’s senses and emotions. The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider fills both roles, and a variety of others as well.


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The first Alfa Romeo appeared on the automotive scene in 1910, and Alfa began its racing career the following year in 1911. The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider marks the return to great Alfa Romeos, recalling the brand’s legendary sporting tradition and continuing the stellar performance attributes with its innovative all-aluminum, mid-mounted 1750 cc, DOHC, turbocharged, intercooled, direct injection, inline four-cylinder engine that delivers an impressive 237 horsepower at 6,000 rpm along with 258 pound feet of torque in a range from 2200 to 4,250 rpm (136 horsepower per liter). The Alfa acronyms 8C and 6C in the 1930s and 1940s distinguished racing and road cars fitted with powerful eight and
six-cylinder engines, while in similar fashion, the award-winning 4C heralds the all-new Alfa Romeo 4C Spider model’s return to iconic status. Alfa’s DNA selector enables the driver to optimize the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider to the level of driving performance and capability desired through four powertrain and chassis control calibration modes: Dynamic, Natural, All-weather and Race, which includes a launch control function.
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The Alfa 4C is capable of moving from 0-60 mph in the mid-4-second range, and of achieving a top speed of 160 mph.

The bloodline of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider includes some of the most purpose-built Alfa performance models, illustrating lightness and efficiency with undeniable Alfa Romeo styling – the aluminum-bodied 8C 2900 B Touring (1938); the 1900 C52 “Flying Saucer” (1952), which could exceed 140 mph and most notably the legendary 33 Stradale (1967), with its mid-engine and magnesium alloy and steel tube chassis wrapped in provocative styling that’s also functional and distinctly Italian. Enter the 4C Spider’s whose mission statement is to deliver the driving thrill, performance and unforgettable emotion representing the very core of Alfa Romeo’s DNA and heritage.

The all-new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider builds upon the brand’s direction, with the impressive combination of technology, performance and Italian style, which was launched by the 8C Competizione (2008), 8C Spider (2009), 4C (2015), and most recently, the 4C Spider Concept, which debuted at the 84th International Geneva Motor Show.

The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider draws the bulk of its Inspiration from the 33 Stradale, transcending this legendary racecar’s mid-engine body forms and following its purposeful and lightweight performance tradition with sheet-molded compound (SMC) composite panels comprising its alluring Italian design, and sheathing its state-of-the-art carbon fiber, monocoque chassis and all-aluminum mid-mount engine.

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 lightweight, precise function and elevated performance attributes.

The mechanical makeup of the Alfa Romeo 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 lies in the top and rear hatch execution, and it only weighs 22 pounds more.

Designed by the Alfa Romeo Style Centre, the dramatic visual impact of the Alfa Romeo 4C begins up forward 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, 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, wrapping continuously around into the integrated rear spoiler.
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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 that rolls and stows away in the trunk. When removed, the result is that of a Targa-type top. The rear hatch is solid and has no engine-viewing window as found in the coupe. An optional carbon fiber panel is available to fit in the Targa –like opening. In profile, the functional side scoops culminate from a definitive upward sweeping line through the door. Wheel wells fit tightly around the wheels and tires accentuating the 4C Spider’s low stance. Finishing off the voluptuous overall form, round LED illuminated light clusters blend into the car’s muscular rear haunches and sculpted rear fascia. Split dual exhaust outlets fit into the blacked out rear diffuser. The famous round Alfa Romeo badge is featured prominently in both the grille and rear hatch lip.
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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 Alfa Romeo design team, working in conjunction with the vehicle’s engineering team, created a roadster that achieves maximum aerodynamic efficiency levels – with a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.341, and like the race cars that inspired its creation and development, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider’s design contributes to increased stability at higher speeds.
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The interior showcases the exposed carbon fiber monocoque construction 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, 7-inch TFT instrument cluster along with reinforced-composite sport seats. 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. The clean flat-bottom performance steering wheel comes with paddle-shift controls. Driver-oriented center stack controls, along with aluminum pedals and footboards, display Alfa Romeo 4C Spider’s track-oriented spirit and attention to detail.

Two sport seats feature a carbon fiber and fiberglass reinforced-composite structure that delivers both strength and weight savings. Available in cloth, leather, and leather with microfiber, the seats provide the posture and bolstering needed for performance driving, while delivering the comfort needed for everyday use.

The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider combines the best technical and manufacturing capabilites of two brands: Alfa Romeo and Maserati. Built at Maserati’s Modena, Italy workshop, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider takes advantage of more than 70 years of tradition, technology, know-how and passion, relying on Master craftsmanship, and high levels of technical competence.

Suspension componentry consists of a “superimposed” double wishbone configuration up front for direct and unfiltered feedback, while at the rear, an advanced MacPherson suspension ensures optimum road-holding attributes. 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.
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In keeping with enthusiast desires, the steering is manual with no power assist to ensure maximum agility and road feel. The ratio is a quick 15.7:1, bringing the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider to a halt with up to 1.25 g of braking deceleration, 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 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.

I was to experience seat and wheel time in the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider both as a driver and passenger during the national Press launch. Driving scenarios in and around Monterey and the Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. My 4C Spider test car wore an exterior finished in Rosso Competizione (a Deep metallic Red) and featured a Black interior. The base price was set at $63,900. Options included: the Convenience Package; Leather Package; Red Brake Calipers.; Racing Exhaust.; Black Leather Seats; Rosso Competezione paint.; 18 and 19-inchDark Gray wheels; and the Destination Charge, which elevated the final tally to $73,395. Later at home, I was later able to enjoy a Spider with a Rosso Alfa exterior finish and Black interior. The base sticker was the same, but the final cost of my most recent tester came to $72,695 after factoring in the Rosso paint finish, Convenience Package, Red brake calipers, Carbon fiber Cluster Bezel, Racing exhaust, 18 & 19-inch silver wheels, Xenon headlamps and Destination charge.

SUMMARY: The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider 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. Despite its diminutive size, its styling is a combination of futuristic, sensuous and dramatically unique. It is truly a work of art. A Ferrari California driver even gave a thumbs up approval. In fact, the image of the Alfa 4C Spider is remotely reminiscent of a Ferrari F430.
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In terms of its performance, acceleration, braking and steering all deliver basic, pure sensations. This my friends, is a true sports car – no superfluous control systems to invade the raw joy of driving. The manual, non-assisted steering took a little getting used to at slow speeds, but ultimately delivered a direct controlled sensation, not normally found in many of today’s sports cars. The handling characteristics rendered a “seat-of-your-pants’ feedback of confidence and control. The Alfa 4C Spider stays flat and planted. The DCT gearbox with the paddle shifters provided 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.
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Old world craftsmanship is in evidence through out the 4C Spider. It is a perfect driver’s car, with everything properly positioned for the ultimate in user friendliness. It is not quite as ideal for passengers with long legs, as the driver oriented instrument panel curves into and invades the passenger space. The dash also extends more rearward on the passenger side, making it difficult at best to attain the ideal seating position for really tall passengers. Headroom is not an issue with the top panel removed or in place – there is plenty.

The Alfa’s high side sills preclude graceful ingress and egress, but getting in and out is easier than with BMW’s i8. Once inside though, any inconvenience is readily offset.

Bottom line, the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is perhaps best described as an exotic mini-super car, capable of providing a most enjoyable driving experience – a baby Ferrari if you will.


 

SPECIFICATIONS: 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider


  

Base Price: $63,900.
Price as Tested: $73,395.
Engine Type and Size: 1750cc DOHC, 16-valve, turbocharged, intercooled, sequential miultiport electronic Direct Injection, inline VVT 4-cylinder, liquid-cooled with dual variable-valve timing, intercooler and wet sump.
Horsepower (bhp): 237 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 258 @ 2,200-4,250 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed Alfa TCT twin-clutch with sequential paddle-shift gear selection and automatic mode.
Drive Train: Transversely-mounted mid engine / Rear-wheel drive.
Suspension: Front – Superimposed Double wishbone – high-strength steel tubular-control arms, aluminum knuckles and tubular anti-roll bar with stiffer springs, sway bar and performance -tuned shock absorbers.
Rear – MacPherson – rear strut: shock absorber with hollow piston rod and side-load spring, high-strength steel tubular-control arms and aluminum knuckles with stiffer springs, sway bar and performance -tuned shock absorbers.

Brakes: Power-assisted tandem diaphragm with zero lost travel with Brembo fixed four-piston calipers front / dual opposing calipers in the rear.
Tires: Pirelli P-Zero 205/40ZR18 86Y front / 235/35ZR19 91Y rear. Mounted on five “circle” silver painted alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 93.7 inches
Length Overall: 157.0 inches
Width: 73.5 inches
Height: 46.7 inches
Curb Weight: 2,487 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 10.5 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 24-mpg city / 34-mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.341
0 – 60 mph: 4.1 seconds – Top speed 160 mph.

  


Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.

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