Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
Even more fun
As mentioned, the Alfa Romeo 4C offers the performance and thrill of a thoroughbred sports car, but at the price of a luxury business car. The secret? The Alfa Romeo 4C has the same ratio of car weight to engine power as a pure sports car.
Thus, the Alfa Romeo 4C performs as well as a Ferrari California or Porsche 911. The big difference is in size. This is because the Alfa Romeo is much smaller and therefore a smaller engine is sufficient to achieve the same performance. Moreover, Alfa Romeo has saved a lot of weight, which also ensures that the weight to horsepower ratio is just as favourable as in its much more expensive competitors.
Yet Alfa Romeo went back from the extremely spartan version offered when the model was introduced. Options such as air conditioning, a radio, central door locking and an adjustable seat were sold so often that they are now standard. Less radical headlights (+3 kg!) are optionally available, as the "mesh lights" of the first-generation 4C did not please everyone.
Unfortunately, all this means that the price of the 4C has risen sharply since its introduction. This is a shame, because the charm of the 4C was precisely that this sports car was attainable for the common man or woman.
The 4C Spider is more expensive and for that, apart from the sunroof, buyers get a completely modified rear end. This is because the 4C Spider does not have a reclining rear window, but a standing rear window. Whether this is prettier or uglier is a matter of taste. What is certain is that the 4C Spider is slightly less cluttered than the Coupé and that is a great thing.
Like the coupé, the boot measures 110 litres. That is roughly enough for a small trolley, but that space is also used in the convertible to store the "roof", effectively halving the boot space.
To keep the weight as low as possible, Alfa Romeo logically opted for a simple roof. The 4C Spider features a fabric hood that has to be removed or mounted by hand (no heavy electric motors and hydrolics here!). Even on a first attempt, mounting and dismounting succeeded within minutes.
As the test drive took place in varying weather conditions, it can be reported that the roof is well waterproof and keeps driving noise reasonably out.
Of course, most of the test drive was done with the roof open! It is immediately apparent that the 4C Spider is not a convertible for quietly enjoying the scenery. Because the rear window remains open, the feeling of freedom is less than in "real" convertibles. Moreover: the 4C Spider is simply too fast to enjoy the scenery!
An advantage of the upright rear window is that the occupants are well out of the wind and can continue driving even with the roof open in light rain.
The charm of a sports car like this is that the driver can feel the mechanics perfectly. Without the roof, that feeling with the car is much more intense! Even more than with the coupé, the driver sees, feels, smells and, above all, hears everything that happens.
In doing so, the optional sports exhausts provide an extra thrill. Keep in mind, however, that this sound is tiring in the long run. Moreover, the 4C with sports exhaust attracts a lot of attention in town and not everyone is keen on that. As far as Autozine is concerned, the optional sports exhausts are very nice for a test drive, but not for those who actually buy the 4C.
Because the 4C is basically a tub made of extremely strong carbon fibre, Alfa Romeo was able to remove the roof without compromising handling. Only in details was the Spider reinforced, for example, for the convertible, the frame around the windscreen was also made of carbon fibre (partly to create fixing hooks for the roof).
Only when driving on extremely bad road surfaces does the 4C Spider seem to twist slightly, but this effect is minimal. A a Spider, the 4C is slightly more forgiving and slightly less jumpy on bad road surfaces. Thanks to the unpowered steering, the driver feels exactly what is going on under the front wheels and what the car is capable of.
No matter how fast things go, thanks to the 4C's perfect weight distribution and substantial width, grip is phenomenal. In many cases, therefore, it's the driver who's running out of nerve, not the car.
As the Spider is barely heavier than the regular 4C, performance is almost the same. The Spider is also powered by a 1.7-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that transmits 240 hp / 350 Nm to the rear wheels. The sprint from standstill to 100 km/h takes a mere 4.5 seconds. Top speed is 257 km/h, which is a mere one kilometre per hour slower than the coupé.
Every 4C comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission that is lighter than a manual and, thanks to a double clutch, shifts faster than even the best racing driver can. It also prevents less practised drivers from burning the clutch plates.
Like every Alfa Romeo, the 4C is equipped with a "DNA" button that can be used to choose a dynamic, normal or modified (snow/ice) programme. In the 4C, however, the normal programme is already many times sportier than the dynamic programme in even the fastest hatchback!
In practice, therefore, there are roughly two ways to drive the 4C. One is light-footed, tapping the throttle very gently and taming the car like a wild beast that can go slow but doesn't want to. Up to around 2,000 to 3,000 revs, the 4C is fast but dosable.
The other way of driving is with a heavy right foot. And this is what the 4C is made for. At full throttle, the 4C does not accelerate, but it is as if the occupants are launched. The small turbo engine revs more eagerly than a big engine can, making the 4C not only sensational but downright toxic. The occupants of the 4C Spider experience all that even more intensely, making the 4C even more fun!
The Alfa Romeo 4C is now also available as a Spider. Although the conclusion was obvious, the editor on duty was happy to take a test drive to check whether the convertible is indeed even more fun than the coupé.
The only bad news is that the standard equipment has become richer, which has significantly increased the price of the 4C Coupé and Spider. As a result, this dream car has become less attainable for the common man.
The good news is that the effect of the extra weight to preserve sturdiness is negligible in practice. The pure driving sensation that the Alfa Romeo 4C is known for has become even more intense with the arrival of the Spider.
- Even nicer than the coupe
- Supercar performance and sensations
- Driver and co-driver are well out of the wind with the roof open
- Sports exhaust gets boring fast
- Even less (usable) luggage space than the coupe
- Substantial additional cost compared to the coupe