Alfa Romeo 4C Spider draws on a 1960s classic
The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider takes inspiration from the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale, a late 60s masterpiece hand-built in a tiny edition of 18 cars. The 4C – in both coupe and Spider form – is constructed around a carbon fibre tub, making it ultra-light and a formidable performer. A small four-cylinder turbo-charged engine is placed amidships, with the necessary pipework to make it sound ferocious, and the steering has no power assistance to preserve the purity of its feel.
That all adds to a pretty intense and involved driving experience, heightened all the more by the removable roof panel (it concertinas up and can be stored in the modest rear boot – the front panel doesn’t open). The Spider gets the clear glass headlights denied its coupe sibling – and looks much better as a result – but the rear deck is an awkward landscape of curves and scoops. That fabric roof gives the driver a surprising insight into the sound experienced by passers-by, and therefore less of an excuse for not understanding the filthy looks they throw you (or the occasional thumbs-up). This is not a car for the quiet life.
Alfa seems to struggle between the lairy and classy elements of its heritage, with the latter usually losing out the minute a surfeit of power is deployed. Nevertheless, the company knows the former still has a substantial draw. For example, there’s a 50th Anniversary Limited Edition version of the 4C to commemorate its predecessor’s decisive starring role alongside Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross in The Graduate, the car that cemented the marque’s status in North America. The company left the US market in its fallow years, only to return triumphant with the 4C, with the new 2017 Giulia not far behind. Just like the original 33 Stradale – a racer for the road – the 4C is a car without compromise.