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Monday, September 21, 2009

Alfa 8C Competizione and 8C Spider

Alfa 8C Competizione. Arguably the most desirable modern car created in the past 40 years. Not because it is the fastest or does any one thing the best, but because it stirs the emotions like no other car. The sounds. The shapes. The tactile sensations. This car is as close to being alive as an automobile can get. It is almost a human combination of strengths, quirkiness and weaknesses put out for all to see. It is naked and honest and...FANTASTIC!

The official press release from Alfa Romeo on the 8C for your enjoyment:

Alfa 8C Competizione and Alfa 8C Spider

The German event would not have been complete without an area for Alfa Romeo's exclusive limited edition supercars: the Alfa 8C Competizione and Alfa 8C Spider. These two sports cars have enchanted collectors and aficionados the world over, both pulling in thousands of applications in just a few days.

Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione 2006 Concept Car

The cars were designed at the Alfa Romeo Centro Stile and 500 of each were manufactured. Their fully carbon fiber exteriors perfectly embody Alfa Romeo's motoring and mechanical excellence: a slender line that expresses all the beauty of a veritable piece of poetry in motion that harks back to the brand's glorious past while also carrying forward its values of technology and emotion into the future.

Style and aerodynamics embracing tradition and innovation

The marked dynamism of the car is imparted by the horizontal ridge cut into the side extending from the front wheel arch. The big wheels and the mighty "muscles" of the rear wings emphasis the model's personality and strength, without taking away the elegance of the soft flowing lines, almost underlining the exquisite beauty of the exterior's individual parts: the drop-shaped headlights set like precious stones in the front wing, the taillight LEDs embodying technology and functionality, and the classic door handle.

Furthermore, the front end has the trademark Alfa Romeo stylistic features, with a new interpretation of the 'whiskers' and the badge. Not forgetting that this innovative line gives us a glimpse of the parts and proportions of future Alfa Romeo cars, while always sticking to the brand's heritage.

It should be noted that for maximum aerodynamic efficiency levels, the solutions adopted for the Alfa 8C Spider and 8C Competizione are not limited to shape. In fact, all the surfaces and profiles of the pillars and windows, as well as the shape and the position of the wing mirrors, were optimized either through computer calculations or tunnel and road tests. In this way, the air wraps around the car and continues its natural course without being obstructed by uneven or rough edges.

Of course, the unique feature of the Alfa 8C Spider is the Z-fold soft-top, a key design choice for limiting weight and optimizing weight distribution. To make opening and closing operations simple and easy, moving the soft-top is entrusted to an electrohydraulic system controlled by a button on the dashboard, while the manual lock and release ensure the system's smoothness.

In particular, the roof on the Alfa 8C Spider is characterized by a fabric made with two overlapping materials: the outer fabric is multi-layered with high resistance to atmospheric agents, while the inner fabric has high-capacity soundproofing for the passenger compartment. Also, the soft-top, which is available in several colors, was designed with aesthetics, aerodynamics and acoustics in mind as well as functionality, with moving parts specifically developed to make deployment easy, fast and safe.

Interior: personality and technology

Alfa Romeo 8C Spider interior

The two cars are highly sophisticated on the inside thanks to the broad use of composite materials to make the dashboard and the interior panels, as well as the ultra-light carbon fibre ergonomic seats, made in partnership with Sparco, which can be adjusted according to the driver's body shape (a feature reserved until now for race cars).

Furthermore, by focusing on customizing the interior trims as much as possible, the customer can choose from different environments and aesthetic solutions, all hand-crafted and based on close attention to detail: from contrasting or 'ton sur ton' stitching to unique color combinations.

The valuable Frau Pieno Fiore leather upholstery (using an innovative weaving process in which the hide is bound to a natural fiber fabric creating a very profound and strong look) is particularly noteworthy.

Similarly to the interior, great care has been put into making the external parts: from alloy wheels to brake calipers, every detail can be customized because each Alfa 8C Spider or Alfa 8C Competizione is unique. An unmistakable car that reflects its owner's personality. To sum up, the unique and one-off style of the exclusive Alfa 8C heralds the pleasure of a sporty drive fully in keeping with the brand's tradition.

Solid but lightweight structure

A solid but light structure is a pre-requisite for making a good high-performance car. It is also the inspirational principle behind the two cars. The floor panel is steel to get maximum torsional rigidity and ensure a drive that is always precise and safe, while the bodywork is made from carbon fiber.

This is a choice motivated by the requirement to reduce weight as much as possible but also to optimize the car's centre of gravity for better agility and handling on more challenging journeys.

An innovative carbon fiber monolithic windscreen frame was designed in order to ensure high rigidity on the Alfa 8C Spider while maintaining a low roll center.

The sweet-sounding 8-cylinder 4.7 engine

Still focusing on the most sophisticated technology, the two Alfa Romeo supercars use the new 90° V8 engine with a capacity of 4691 cm3 which has been designed with a precise objective: to ensure exceptional performance without sacrificing driving fluidity and the enjoyment of any road situation.

This creates a powerful and progressive engine that develops a maximum power of 450 hp at 7,000 rpm and a peak torque of 480 Nm at 4,750 rpm with maximum revs of 7,500 rpm. A sequential six-speed gearbox has been added to this engine, with gear selection via ergonomic triggers located behind the steering wheel and with a self-locking differential.

In more detail, the internal fluid dynamics and the cooling system cylinder heads are designed for high duct permeability, as well as effective cooling of the intake load to maximize volumetric efficiency and engine performance. Furthermore, the harmonization of the intake and exhaust geometry together with the adoption of continuous variable valve timing units on the intake camshaft, the optimization of the combustion chamber and the calibration of the engine mean that 80% of torque can be obtained from 2,000 rpm.

In sporty driving conditions on different road surfaces, you will welcome the engine's exceptionally short response times due to high intake permeability and low inertia of the two-disc clutch/flywheel system.

The crankshaft with counterweights at 90°, fully balanced with the best arrangement of rods and pistons, ensures that the engine operates with few vibrations. The crankcase/lower crankcase unit is aluminum with five main bearings to ensure the structure is very rigid with low friction losses, just like the cylinder heads are made from an aluminum alloy. Furthermore, all the piping (water, oil, secondary air) is directly in the engine's castings, thus making the system very sturdy, unhindered and safe; in short, extremely reliable.

The integration of the accessory systems with the engine's main castings and the very solid design of all the big-sided parts ensures low noise levels coming from the engine and high component reliability. Even the engine's longitudinal packaging has received special attention, as demonstrated by the adoption of a single chain timing control that ensures exceptional reliability for life.

Alfa Romeo 8C driven by Domenico Martino, responsible for final tuning of the car

Lastly, particular attention has been paid to the acoustic definition and intonation of the intake and exhaust in search of a tone that would enhance the character and render the car unmistakable. The result is a characteristic and full sound, emphasized by a high permeability intake system and an exhaust system with electronically activated valves that enhances the sound of the car in full compliance with regulatory and environmental constraints.

Transmission, sequential gearbox and self-locking differential

Just like the legendary race cars, the Alfa 8C Spider and Alfa 8C Competizione have the transaxle system which ensures the best balance of weight distribution: in fact, the engine is located further back while the gearbox is arranged at the rear in a block with the differential and the hydraulic actuator. The transaxle structure provides for the rigid connection between the engine and the gearbox casing, which also contains the self-locking differential. The two units are joined by a tube inside turned by the drive shaft: in this way, the load is optimally distributed between the front and rear axle assemblies.

Top Gear Roadtest on the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

The six-speed gearbox, with gear selection by means of triggers located behind the steering wheel, has been developed to ensure very quick gear changes and can be used in Manual-Normal, Manual-Sport, Automatic-Normal, Automatic-Sport and Wet modes. Lastly, the self-locking differential enables acceleration and stability to be managed with extraordinary efficiency in any situation.

Suspension, wheels and braking system

The two cars are Alfa to the core, with an uncompromising sense of control and driveability. Alfa Romeo cars have always been known for drive comfort and dynamic behavior: in the case of these supercars, they become real strong points. This is partly because of the four-sided suspension with forged aluminum uprights and supports, shaped to best control the trajectory of moving wheels.

The tires with 20" rims also contribute to excellent road hold, and they have been specially developed to ensure excellent performance: 245/35 at the front and 285/35 at the rear, mounted on spoked wheels and made from flowing aluminum to ensure lightness and the best possible brake ventilation.

Ensuring the best possible suspension and tire setup has maximized comfort while maintaining a sporty performance. The result is excellent dynamics: classic handling so typical of the Alfa Romeo brand, direct steering, responsiveness, clean transitions, and a linear understeer gradient.

On the 8C Spider, it is actually extremely easy to combine accelerator and steering wheel usage, with the maximum longitudinal and transverse accelerations reached at the same time. This is noticeable by excellent responsiveness during sporty driving and easy management of oversteer.

French road test of the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

Lastly, both cars have the latest version of the Alfa Romeo VDC, a state-of-the-art system for controlling stability and traction, to give the driver the best possible control over the car. The driver can limit system intervention by driving safely and alertly. Such a system has to be backed up by excellent brakes. That is why the 8C Spider comes with Brembo's F1-inspired carbon ceramic (CCM) brakes as standard. In a first for a car in this class, and in order to ensure an incredible feeling from the very first time you brake, the system is broken in with a brand new process that guarantees reliability - and it comes as standard on the Alfa 8C Spider.

On the 8C Competizione, the braking system has floating-type drilled discs with an aluminum bell. These solutions ensure powerful and effective braking, even under intense use. Finally, the calipers are monobloc to ensure maximum rigidity and less warp due to the high loads generated by pressure from the pistons on the pads.

1 comment:

autostry said...

Great collection of Alfa Romeo cars. I love the Top Gear review.