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Geneva show: Alfa steals show with 4C Spider

Carbon credit: Carbon-fibre is used throughout the 4C Spider, from the monocoque chassis through to the clamshell headlights, rollover hoops, and more.

Stunning Alfa Romeo 4C Spider concept previews 2015 production model

5 Mar 2014

THE automotive world stopped to take a long, admiring glance at Alfa Romeo’s game-changing mid-engined 4C coupe when it was unveiled at the Geneva motor show three years ago, and history has repeated overnight with the presentation of the equally breathtaking 4C Spider.

The stunning near-production concept car is confirmed for production in early 2015, however an Australian schedule is yet to be locked in – we are, after all, still waiting for the 4C coupe, which is due mid-year.

Alfa promises that the 4C soft-top remains true to the philosophy of the tin-lidded version and its status as an “ultra-lightweight, high-performance driving machine”.

It has inevitably packed on extra weight – approximately 60kg – with the structural reinforcements required by safety regulations for open-top vehicles, as well as the high expectations of engineers and ‘Alfisti’ alike in terms of its dynamic performance.

But like the coupe, the roadster is said to have retained the “4C focus and purity” with its lightweight fabric hood and extensive use of carbon-fibre and other weight-saving materials such as low-density SMC (sheet moulding compound) that is claimed to be significantly lighter than steel and aluminium.

Carbon-fibre is used for the rollover bars, spoilers and windscreen frame. Indeed, the monocoque chassis of the 4C Spider is constructed entirely of the material, with the designers ramming home the point by making it clearly visible across the cabin, from the centre console to the door sills and the rear bulkhead, for example.

Far from being a “decorative afterthought”, the Spider’s construction is enough, Alfa says, for the “structural rigidity, mechanical purity and low weight philosophy” of the 4C not to be compromised.

Not stopping there, the Spider’s design also brings new carbon-fibre clamshell headlights, new alloy wheels milled from solid aluminium blocks, and what is billed as an advanced new Akrapovic-sourced dual-stage central exhaust system with titanium and carbon tailpipes.

Alfa says a key feature of the new exhaust is an electrically operated valve system which can improve performance and enhance the exhaust note at the push of a wirelessly linked button.

The Spider’s overall weight is still to be specified, but dry weight remains less than 1000kg.

The suspension settings have changed compared to the coupe, although Alfa adds that the “outstanding deceleration and lateral acceleration performance, and the balanced 40:60 front-to-rear weight distribution, remain unaffected by the evolution from coupe to Spider”.

Performance-wise, the 4C rag-top mirrors that of the coupe, with its 179kW 1.75-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine – which drives the rear wheels via a six-speed dual dry-clutch TCT transmission – requiring only 4.5 seconds to reach 100km/h from standstill.

Top speed is still to be confirmed, although the Italian car-maker claims it will be in excess of 250km/h.

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