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New Alfa Spider driven

2007-01-17 10:32

Wilmer Muller

Alfa Romeo's new Spider has arrived in South Africa. Typical of Italian sports cars it oozes sex appeal and loads of style. We take a closer look at the new newcomer.

Sexy and sporty are qualities that are synonymous with Alfa Romeos and the Italian carmaker's latest Spider are again proof of this.

Developed by Pininfarina, like all Spiders before, and the Alfa Romeo style centre, the new Spider is, like its iconic predecessors, set to turn the heads.

However, unlike in the heydays of the 1950s and '60s the new Spider faces some pretty tough competition now.

The latest generation Spider has to battle it out against roadsters such as the BMW Z4, Merc SLK and even the Porsche Boxster - all cars with great credentials. (Yes, these are the sports cars the range-topping Spider is taking on in terms of price!)

The Spider's best attribute is without doubt is its design and that is definitely the car's selling point too. This two-seater oozes sex appeal and typical Alfa it will stand out in a crowd. Like its Brera sibling the Spider is a showcase of Italian elegance and you will buy it for the "pose factor".

No matter your thoughts on Alfa quality or reliability, you have to give it to the Italian carmaker's ability to build beautiful classics. The new Spider also has all the right styling elements to become an icon itself.

Alfa also stuck with a tried-and-tested recipe for its new roadster and the Spider still has a canvas roof (which is obviously fully automatic) instead of a retractable hard-top.

Model range

There are two engines available for the Spider, a 2.2-litre and a 3.2-litre V6, and both are mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.

The V6 model also sends its power through Alfa's Q4 all-wheel-drive setup, which enhances driving dynamics and road grip.

The Alfa Romeo "cuore sportive" really beats in the new V6 3.2 litre JTS petrol engine, which delivers 191kW. It is a smooth engine and it pulls beautifully while it is complimented by a nice V6 growl. Furthermore it is crisp and offers great torque resulting in a fun driving experience.

This engine is capable of a power delivery of 191 kW (8% more than the previous 3.2 V6) while peak torque is 33 Nm more than before at 322 Nm at 4 500 r/min. Alfa claims that the Spider V6 can reach a top speed of 235 km/h and accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 7 seconds.

The 2.2-litre 4-cylinder engine, which Alfa says is quite light thanks to aluminium cylinder heads and crankcases, delivers 136 kW and peak torque of 230 Nm at 4 500 r/min.

Top speed for this model is a claimed 217 km/h and it is not very quick although Alfa says this model goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.8 seconds.

The entry-level model has obviously less of a sports car feel to it than the V6. As it is only front-wheel-driven, it is not very nimble and obviously doesn't feel as confident on the road as the V6.

This model should rather just be seen as a two-seater cabriolet while the V6 is definitely the more convincing sports car. The later has pace, handling and keeps its pose better.

Safety equipment on both derivatives include five airbags - two front ones, two at the side and a knee airbag for the driver.

Naturally the braking system consists of ABS with EBD and the Spider also comes with Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), which is Alfa's version of Electronic Stability Control (ESP). Both models have a hill-holder feature too.

As expected there is the usual array of comfort and luxury features too and the Spider gets leather trim, climate control and a top of the range audio system.

Tough competition

The new Spider is definitely worthy of the Alfa Romeo badge. It is a pure-bred Alfa with all proper genes. However, it is pricey and it is up against tough competition. The 3.2 V6 has a price tag of R525 000 while the 2.2 JTS costs R435 000.

Although Alfa pitches the Spider against some of the premium brands there are also more affordable competitors such as the rNissan 350Z and Honda S2000 lurking. Both these cars have proven that they are forces to be reckoned with.

So why would you opt for the Spider? Well, the main attraction is definitely the looks.

If you want to be different and show the world you know what true style is, this is the roadster for you. However, if you do want to buy the Spider for just its looks, then go for the 2.2-litre version. If you want style with some substance, you'll have to fork out an extra R90k...

And as soon as you break through the R500 000 barrier, it is a different ball game as there are some great other sports cars in that segment.


  • Alfa Romeo Spider 3.2 V6 Q4 - R525 000
  • Alfa Romeo Spider 2.2 JTS - R435 000

    Both derivatives comes with a 5 year/100 000 km maintenance plan

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