What's it about
"It's such a beautiful car!" "Wow!" "Sexy wheels!" "Awesome!"
One of the most striking cars on the road is arguably Alfa Romeo's Spider. It is such a head twister and it certainly doesn't go unnoticed. Even Ferrari drivers give you thumbs up. But all this attention is the only ego boost you will get behind the wheel of a Spider.
Imagine taking a super model on a first date with you being the envy of other guys. Yes, you have the girl and you have plans? But then everything just starts going wrong. She just talks to you about her Chihuahua and before you know it she burdens you with all her emotional insecurities and ex-boyfriend problems.
She gets tears in her eyes which end in a tsunami. It's a disaster as nothing you say, comforts her. She asks you to drop her at (to her) home, with Ms Super Model apologising for her behaviour and saying you remind her of her brother. And you don't even get a good night kiss? You feel deceived and like the village idiot.
That's the case with Alfa's Spider too. Because of its looks and Alfa's heritage one has high expectations of this stunning roadster. However, one can't help but feel tricked. Yes, the engine isn't half-bad but it isn't quite class leading. Then there are Alfa's disappointing brand reputation and reliability issues. And have you seen the Spider's price tag?
The Spider comes with all the usual bells and whistles. Standard features include full leather trim, electric heated mirrors, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors and a six-CD changer
The safety package gets 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.
The roof operating system is straight-forward too and it detracts with the push of a button. The only problem is that it takes almost half a minute to drop!
A fixed wind deflector between the rollover hoops helps keep wind buffeting at bay.
Boot space is reasonable too with a 200-litre capacity if the top is up. There is also some storage space behind the front seats.
The Spider's 3.2-litre V6 engine delivers 191kW while peak torque is a useful 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.
Although it is a smooth engine with some decent torque and a nice V6 growl, it doesn't feel the most refined in its class. The Spider feels too heavy for the engine too. V6s in the Audi TT and even the Nissan 350Z are better.
The Spider shares most of its genes with the Brera, though it has a different suspension setup.
The V6 uses Alfa's Q4 four-wheel-drive system, which splits the power between the front and rear axles.
The Q4 system does a good job of utilising all the torque and delivering good traction around corners.
But the car still doesn't feel too steady on the road as the most minor surface imperfection gives it quite a fright. Bumps and pot-holes send shudders through the car.
The Spider looks as if it should be a sports car deluxe but it is in fact more of a cruiser. Sports car enthusiasts will also be disappointed in the Spider's road manners. The scuttle shake, mediocre performance and general lack of refinement stand out.
We'll give the six-speed manual transmission credit for being nicely weighted since it can be thrown between the gears with ease.
Why will one buy a Spider? One shouldn't write if off completely. It is indeed a design masterpiece and few other sports cars come close to this Alfa's sex appeal. The Spider, like its Brera sibling, is destined to become a design classic as it is a showcase of Italian style at its best.
If you are able to ignore the reliability and service issues, the killer looks and Alfa badge could just seduce you. It is able to stir the emotions!
But if you are in the market for a proper sports car driving experience, it is perhaps a better idea to look at cars such as the new Audi TT or even the Nissan 350Z. Not only is the 350Z cheaper but offers some decent V6 thrill too.
In short, the Spider is over-priced and perceivable build quality isn't great either.
We can't help to feel disappointed as the Spider is supposed to be a car with awesome potential. It just doesn't quite live up to one's expectations. Honestly, beauty isn't enough...