Alfa Romeo Spider

28 Jun, 2006 1:00am Ross Pinnock

Striking styling and a torquey V6 powerplant are not enough to make the Alfa Spider a good allrounder


True sports car fans will find the flagship Alfa Romeo Spider a letdown due to its mediocre performance and four-wheel-drive transmission. Its striking styling and torquey V6 powerplant make it a great cruiser for those in less of a hurry, but the fidgety ride, scuttle shake and price disappoint.
With temperatures rising outside, barely a week seems to pass without a new cabriolet arriving. This week, it’s Alfa Romeo’s turn, with its gorgeous Brera-inspired Spider.

We tested it in base 2.2-litre JTS form in Issue 915, but how does it rate in hot 3.2 guise? Auto Express grabbed the suntan lotion to find out.

To our eyes, the neatly styled car looks best with the roof folded – and doing this couldn’t be easier. The fully automated top takes a lazy 27 seconds to deliver al fresco motoring, and retracts to reveal smart silver roll hoops.

Fire the V6 into life, and the burbling exhaust gives the flagship model a real sense of occasion. This version is obviously quicker than the lesser 2.2 JTS – the 0-62mph sprint takes only seven seconds – but you will have to work it hard to extract decent performance.

This is down to a weight increase of 60kg over the Brera tin-top, but the Spider could do with even more strengthening. The most minor surface imperfection makes the screen shake, and pot-holes send shudders through the cabin.

This is a shame, because the Q4 all-wheel-drive set-up does a fine job of deploying the engine’s 260bhp, providing impressive traction out of corners. However the heavy-nosed Spider will understeer more easily than the 2.2-litre version. Inside, the cabin draws heavily on the 159 and Brera coupé, yet there’s little to distinguish the brand’s flagship model from its less expensive siblings. Build quality is impressive, though. The 3.2-litre Alfa is better suited to relaxed cruising than chasing Porsches, and the firm ride makes even this a compromised experience. Opt for the gorgeous 18-inch alloy wheels instead of the 17-inch rims on our car, and the ride suffers further. However, as with the rest of the model, they look so good they could prove irresistible.

Key specs

Unlike the lesser 2.2-litre model, the flagship Spider boasts V6 power and Alfa’s Q4 all-wheel-drive set-up. Push hard and you’ll see less than the claimed 25mpg.
* Engine: 3.2-litre V6, 260bhp
* 0-62mph: 7.0 seconds
* Price: £31,000 (est)