THE production version of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider has been unveiled at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, combining scintillating performance with open-top thrills and the unmistakable soundtrack of an Italian, performance-tuned engine and exhaust.
Like its Coupé sibling, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is built around an exotic, ultra-lightweight monocoque chassis, comprised entirely of unilateral, “pre-preg”, carbon fibre layers that delivers material performance that is three-times stronger and seven-times lighter than steel.
Because of its inherent rigidity, Alfa Romeo engineers were able to minimise structural differences between the 4C Spider and 4C Coupé: the 4C Spider features a unilateral carbon fibre windscreen frame that is adhered and bolted to the monocoque chassis; a specially-contoured aluminium rollover bar (underneath the “halo”) which provides mounting points for the new rear deck-lid; unique upper body brackets and a high-strength steel engine compartment cross beam to maximise torsional rigidity.
As with the Coupé, the bodywork is made entirely from SMC (sheet moulded compound), a low-density, high-strength composite material that is 20 per cent lighter and dimensionally more rigid than steel, and even the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider’s windscreen and side windows have been optimised for lightness, using 10 percent thinner glass to reduce weight by up to 15 percent.
While European specifications for the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider have yet to be announced, the weight difference between the Coupé and Spider versions of the U.S. market models is just 10kg.
The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider shares much of its exterior design with its award-winning Coupé sibling – the changes are focused on the metamorphosis from fixed- to open-top.
The Coupé’s glazed engine cover and flowing coupé shape gives way to a more traditional spider form, with pronounced buttresses and a body-coloured engine deck-lid with three functional heat extractors and an aerodynamically tuned spoiler.
The rollover structure is housed in a black (or optional carbon fibre) “halo”, creating visual harmony with the carbon fibre windscreen frame, where the attachment points for the removable, stowable cloth roof (or optional carbon fibre hardtop) can also be found.
Other new features to debut on the 4C Spider Concept include an all-new, titanium exhaust system, mounted centrally with switchable modes which can be altered depending on the driving environment and driver’s mood.
Developed by world-renowned exhaust specialists Akrapovic this beautifully crafted system consists of two centrally-mounted tailpipes and computer-optimised asymmetrical mufflers with a dual-mode exhaust valve system and link pipe with resonator to eliminate in-cabin droning.
This optional system is finished with carbon fibre bezels on the exhaust tips. Like the 4C Coupe, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider will also be available with the standard and the Racing exhaust system.
In US versions, a new Alpine premium audio system is also offered, with multiple connectivity and media options, including hands-free Bluetooth calling, Bluetooth streaming, USB/iPod/CD/MP3 capabilities, HD radio and SiriusXM satellite radio.
In addition to the existing colours available on the Alfa Romeo 4C a new Giallo (yellow) paint scheme is also offered (with matching accent stitching for the seating, steering wheel and doors available), while a new Tobacco leather interior option is also planned for later in the year.
Four all-new wheel designs also debut, either in 17-inch (front)/18-inch (rear) or 18-inch (front)/19-inch (rear) sizes in Silver or Dark finishes.
Powered by the same, all-aluminium, 240hp, 258 lb.-ft., 1750 TBi engine as the Coupé, performance for the U.S. model is on a par with the hardtop model, with a top speed of 160mph and a 0-to-60 time estimated at 4.1-seconds.
For the North American market, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is designed with stiffer springs, larger front- and rear-anti-rollbars, and re-tuned shock absorbers. The technical specification of European models will be announced closer to its launch later in the year.
The 4C Spider is the latest in a rich bloodline that includes some of the most desirable performance cars in automotive history: the aluminium-bodied 8C 2900 B Touring (1938); the 140mph 1900 C52 “Flying Saucer” (1952) and the car that inspired the 4C, the legendary 33 Stradale (1967) with its revolutionary magnesium-alloy and steel tubular chassis and ground-breaking styling.
The 4C Spider was designed by Alfa Romeo Centro Stile will be produced at the Maserati plant in Modena, Italy.
It will go on sale in the UK in the summer, with prices and UK specifications announced closer to that time.