The Alfa Romeo 4c Spider made its world premier at the Detroit Auto Show Monday. The production version of the Alfa Romeo 4c Spider looks nearly indistinguishable from the 4c Spider Concept car that was previewed at the Geneva Motor Show in March of last year.
Hand made at the Maserati factory in Modena, Italy, the 4C is constructed largely out of exotic materials typically reserved for cars that cost well over six figures. As with most convertible open top cars, there is a weight gain as the chassis needs additional reinforcement to make up for the loss of rigidity when a roof is cut off. Fortunately, because of the Alfa Romeo 4C's immensely strong carbon fiber chassis, the weight gain on the 4C Spider has been kept to an astonishing 22 lbs in North American cars.
2,465 lbs (1,118 kg) – 4C Coupe
2,487 lbs (1,128 kg) – 4C Spider
Like the coupe version, the 4C Spider was designed by FGA Centro Stile in Torino and uses the legendary Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale as its design inspiration. The production version of the 4C Spider remains true to the 4C Concept car looks. The main differences being the US spec bumperettes in the rear and the drivers side lower air intake that was added to all North American 4c models. This new air intake is for the Alfa TCT (Twin Clutch Transmission) and improves the 4C's track performance at high ambient temperatures.
Aerodynamically, the 4C Spider's body shape offers the same downforce as the coupe version, which is important for high speed stability and special attention was paid to minimize cockpit wind buffering for passenger comfort. Coefficient of drag for the 4C Spider is 0.341 versus 0.335 for the 4C Coupe.
The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is a targa roof design and uses a carbon fiber windshield frame and a stowable cloth top or exposed carbon fiber hardtop to protect the exposed cabin. At the rear roof mounting, a black or optional carbon fiber "halo" covers the rear rollover bar.
The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is available in seven exterior colors and includes: Rosso Alfa, Black, White, Basalt Grey Metallic, Rosso Competizione Tri-coat, Madreperla White Tri-coat and all-new Giallo (yellow).
Sport seats made from carbon fiber and fiberglass reinforced-composite are upholstered in leather. Standard in the 4C Spider is the fully wrapped premium-leather interior package with accent stitching and unique carbon fiber vent surrounds.
Interiors come in 6 combinations and two seat material choices: Black leather with Red accent stitching, Red leather with Red accent stitching, new Black leather with Giallo accent stitching, and exclusive to the Track Package - Black racing leather seats with microfiber inserts and Red or Yellow accent stitching.
New to the 4C model lineup will be a contrasting Tobacco leather with Black accent interior available later in the model year. This will also feature the dual color treatment on the instrument, door panels, and steering wheel.
An Alpine premium stereo is now available in all models and offers premium sound quality and multiple connectivity and media options, including handsfree Bluetooth phone, Bluetooth streaming, USB port, iPod interface, and CD/MP3 capabilities. In addition, the Alpine radio provides access to HD radio and SiriusXM Radio for high-definition broadcast audio.
Four new wheel designs will be offered including staggered fitting 17 x 7.0-inch (front) and 18 x 8.0-inch (rear) alloy wheels in Silver or Dark finish. Larger 18 x 7.0-inch (front) and wider 19 x 8.5-inch (rear) forged wheels in Silver or Dark Gray finish are also available. Brake caliper color choices include the standard Silver or available Red, Yellow, or Black.
The engine of the Alfa Romeo 4C is a new aluminum block evolution of the powerful 1750 TBi (Turbo Benzina Injection) engine used in the Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde. This beast of an engine has performance characteristics said to rival that of a 3 liter. The 1750 Turbo engine boasts direct fuel injection, dual continuous variable valve timing, a high-efficiency turbocharger, and a revolutionary pulse-converter scavenging system that boost torque at low-engine speeds and eliminates turbo lag. Intake and exhaust manifolds have been optimized for the 4C's mid-engine application. Power is rated at 237 hp (177 kW) at 6,000 rpm on a maximum turbo boost pressure of 21.75 psi (1.45 bar). The 1750 TBi has a torque rating of 258 lb.-ft. (350 Nn) at 2,200 - 4,250 rpm. A full 80% of engine torque is available at just 1,700 rpm, and the engine has the highest specific output ever recorded by an Alfa Romeo production engine (136 bhp/liter).
With an outstanding power to weight ratio of 10.49 lbs./horsepower (4.7 kg/horsepower), acceleration from 0 - 60 mph is 4.1 seconds, which is quicker than a Porsche 911. Top speed is 160 mph.
The 1750 TBi engine is teamed with the Alfa TCT (Twin Clutch Transmission) 6-speed dual dry clutch transmission. The Alfa TCT allows gears to be changed in sequential mode using the shift paddles located behind the steering wheel. The transmission works like two gearboxes in parallel, each with its own clutch. The next gear is selected while the previous gear is still engaged, producing lightning fast shifts and eliminating any interruption in power delivery. When cornering, sophisticated programming allows the Alfa TCT to complete shifts in the smoothest way possible to avoid reducing stability.
How quick can the Alfa Romeo 4C TCT shift? Try 130 milliseconds in Race mode at full throttle!
In Dynamic, Natural or All-weather modes, the transmission may also be allowed to shift itself automatically if desired.
The Alfa DNA selector allows drivers to choose from four settings depending on his or her mood and road requirements. This effects how the car drives and performance and stability control levels.
- All-weather – designed to ensure maximum control under adverse weather conditions, this mode enables the Alfa Romeo 4C to respond gently to accelerator input. The anti-slip regulation (ASR) system selects special engine and brake control logic and, in the event of loss of grip, modifies power to prevent skidding or loss of traction.
- Natural – this mode enables the 4C to delivers comfort and smooth drivability. The Alfa TCT gearbox utilizes an “auto-up” function when engine speed approaches the rev limiter. The Alfa Electronic Q2 differential operates more passively, only engaging if one of the rear wheels loses grip
- Dynamic – in this mode, the 4C provides the driver with improved driving performance. A more aggressive powertrain calibration enables the engine to be more responsive, while the Alfa TCT gearbox delivers 25 percent quicker gear changes. Additionally, the electronic stability control (ESC) system is less intrusive, enabling the driver more lateral drift before intervening
- Race – is the most extreme performance mode, putting the driver in total control of the car under race conditions. ESC is deactivated and only intervenes to prevent loss of control during fierce braking. ASR is also deactivated, allowing the driver to control traction through the accelerator pedal. Alfa Electronic Q2 differential control system remains active for fast exits out of corners or bends
The Alfa Romeo 4C is also fitted with Launch Control for easy high performance standing starts. You activate Launch Control by pressing the brake pedal while pushing the accelerator pedal all the way down and squeezing the paddle on the left of the steering wheel. As soon as you release the brake, the system automatically controls the gearbox, traction and power to maximize acceleration.
Originally shown on the 4C Spider Concept, the production 4C Spider will offer a hard-core performance enthusiast Akrapovič dual-mode exhaust system. This titanium exhaust system consists of two center-mounted tailpipes, computer-optimized asymmetrical mufflers with a dual-mode exhaust valve cut-out and link pipe with resonator to eliminate in-cabin droning. A carbon fiber bezel surrounds the Akrapovič center-mounted exhaust tips.
As with the 4C Coupe, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider will also offer the standard exhaust system and a racing exhaust system. The optional racing exhaust removes the muffler and replaces it with a free flowing Y-pipe after the catalyst. Dual concentric exhaust tips finish off the racing system.
The Alfa Romeo 4C front suspension is a double-wishbone design. High-strength steel tubular-control arms, aluminum knuckles, and tubular anti-roll bar are teamed with manual rack and pinion steering for precise handling. Rear suspension consists of MacPherson struts manufactured with hollow piston rods and side-load spring. High-strength steel tubular-control arms, aluminum knuckles and an anti-roll bar round out the system.
The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is available with the Track Package that includes high-performance shock absorbers with larger front- and rear-sway bars, larger and staggered fitting 18 x 7-inch (front) 19 x 8.5-inch (rear) forged-aluminum wheels with available Pirelli P-Zero "AR Racing" tires. The Track Package is visually identified by a performance flat-bottom steering wheel with microfiber inserts, carbon fiber exterior mirrors and carbon fiber gauge cluster bezel, plus the availability of Black leather performance seats with microfiber inserts and Red or Yellow accent stitching.
Look for the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider to arrive at showrooms this summer!
Sources: FCA Media, Alfa Romeo press releases, Author archives