Used buyer's guide: Alfa Romeo Spider

Don’t be put off by Alfa’s reputation, the Spider makes a fine buy

View the Spider as a tourer rather than a sports car, and you won’t be disappointed. Due to a hefty kerbweight, soft suspension and excess scuttle shake, it’s not as good to drive as an Alfa should be. Key German and Japanese rivals are all easier to live with, but they don’t offer the character of the Alfa. So while this is a car you buy with your heart rather than your head, decent reliability means it’s a much more rational purchase than you might think.

Nobody makes characterful cars like the Italians, so if you’re looking for a stylish drop-top that stands out from the crowd, the Alfa Romeo Spider is one of the most appealing choices.

With gorgeous lines and a well built cabin, the Spider makes every drive feel special. Plus, it can be better to own than Alfa’s poor reliability reputation would have you believe – you just need to find a good franchised or independent garage to look after your car.

History

The Brera-derived Spider soft-top, known internally as the Type 939, reached the UK in spring 2007. There was a choice of 2.2 JTS or 3.2-litre JTS V6 petrol models, or a 200bhp 2.4 JTDm diesel.

Within six months, the JTDm was boosted to 210bhp, and at the same time an auto option (called Qtronic) was introduced for the diesel and the 3.2-litre V6.

Aside from the launch of a Limited Edition in summer 2008, there wasn’t much development on the Spider until summer 2010, when a new 200bhp 1.7-litre 1750 TBi petrol and a 170bhp 2.0 JTDm diesel arrived. But both are rare.

Alternatives

The Audi TT looks distinctive and is beautifully built, and there are lots around. There’s a choice of front or four-wheel-drive cars, all offering safe rather than exciting handling, but TTs are easy to own.

The Mercedes SLK is also simple to keep on the road, and gives coupe-like refinement with its folding hard-top in place.

Cheaper options include the Mazda MX-5 and Honda S2000 – these rear-wheel-drive roadsters are ultra-reliable, great to drive and in plentiful supply. If your priority is driving fun, check out Porsche’s beautifully balanced and solidly constructed Boxster.

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