Italian car beauty - Alfa Romeo Spider

There's a good dollop of charisma to be found under the hood of any Italian Alfa Spider. Engines include a 2.2-litre four-cylinder, a 3.2-litre V6 and a 2.4-litre five-pot turbodiesel; this refined unit is the best engine in the current line-up. But the Spider's heavy kerbweight does not help performance. The petrol engines struggle; the extra torque of the big diesel engine means maintaining progress is not as hard work. The extra kilos can be felt in the Spider's  handling, too, because while it is grippy, it never feels as agile or adjustable as you would like. There is some body roll and the Alfa is slow to react, and when the tires reach the limit of grip, the car tends to run wide round corners. As a result, the Alfa works its stability control hard, while the steering gives kickback under heavy loads. It does not offer great feedback at lower speeds so the driving experience feels rather remote. More crucially, the Romeo shows its weaknesses over bumpy surfaces, because it transmits shocks to the cabin, and vibrations can be felt around the windscreen. While the suspension is not overly firm, it is not as composed as we would like it to be. The brake pedal is soft, too. Despite everything said, the Spider is a  more loveable car than the raw data would have you believe. As with many other Alfa Romeos, it has real charm, and is a machine you will not buy with your head, you will buy it with your heart.

Class:            Sports car

Body style:    CoupĂ©

Layout:           Front engine, Front-wheel drive / Four-wheel drive

Platform:       GM/Fiat Premium platform


                              1.75 L TBi I4
                              2.2 L JTS I4
                              3.2 L JTS V6

                              2.0 L JTD I4
                              2.4 L JTD I5

Transmission:  6-speed manual
                             6-speed semi-auto

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