2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider: Top Sports-Car Pick Goes Topless

January 11, 2015

The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, which makes its debut this week at the Detroit Auto Show, breaks convention with pretty much every other convertible and open-top car on the market, short of far more expensive exotic cars.

And that’s a very good thing. The 4C Spider is a completely different, thoroughly modern kind of open-top two-seater—one with 0-60 mph times of just 4.1 seconds and outrageously satisfying performance in general, as well as a super-light carbon-fiber monocoque chassis and special sheet-molded composite panels.

As we say with the 4C Coupe, which already ranks here as one of the best new sports cars on the market—and is the Best Car To Buy 2015 at our companion enthusiast site, Motor Authority—it’s one of the least expensive ways to get a car that really does feel like an exotic.

ALSO SEE: VW Golf And Ford F-150 Take Out 2015 North American Car And Truck Of The Year Awards

Solid removable roof

This year—this summer, actually—the 4C lineup becomes a little more exciting yet, with the introduction of the 4C Spider, which eschews the solid roof in favor of a removable carbon fiber hard top and a carbon fiber windshield frame.

Just as with the 4C Coupe, the Spider is powered by a mid-mounted, all-aluminum 1.75-liter in-line four-cylinder engine that’s turbocharged and direct-injected, making 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Shifts are handles by a so-called TCT (twin-clutch transmission) system that can make rev-matched downshifts or pull off shifts in as little as 130 milliseconds at full throttle.

The gearbox includes Dynamic, Natural, and All-weather modes, and while it’s optimized for steering-wheel paddle-shifters there’s also an automatic mode. Furthermore, in Race mode for the track, you gain access to a launch control for the quickest standing-start launches, and a differential control system stays active even when the stability control lets you take true charge.

New Track Package

To make the most of that, there’s now a Track Package, which includes larger front and rear swaybars, larger staggered-width P-Zero AR Racing tires, a flat-bottom steering wheel, extra carbon fiber trim, and black leather performance seats.

Alfa says that the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider can get to a top speed of 160 mph; furthermore, it can pull 1.1g of lateral acceleration, or 1.25g of braking deceleration—made possible by large perforated disc brakes on all four wheels, with four-piston Brembo calipers in front. Steering is manual; and with the 4C Spider’s light weight, you don’t need a power system.

Altogether, the 4C Spider weighs just 2,487 pounds. That’s just 22 pounds more than the 4C Coupe.

Just what we want to hear with the top down

One feature that’s new to the 4C lineup (with late availability, Alfa says) is a special Akrapovic titanium dual-mode exhaust system, with a carbon fiber surround and, dual center-mounted tips (instead of tips at the rear corners). It’s said to deliver a “signature Alfa resonant sound”—one that we look forward to experiencing with the top removed.

Also new later this year will be a contrasting interior treatment, in Tobacco leather with black accents—a theme that carries through to the instrument panel, door panels, and steering wheel. There’s also a new color for the lineup—Giallo (yellow)—bringing the total to seven exterior hues; and there are six interior color combinations.

The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C lineup now offers an Alpine premium sound system, which brings improved connectivity, with Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio-streaming functions, a USB port, an iPod interface, and a CD player, as well as HD Radio and SiriusXM capability.

The 4C Spider reaches dealerships this summer.

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