Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
Alfa Romeo enjoys a well loved reputation in racing and the hearts of enthusiasts, in spite of spotty reliability and availability in the US. Last year’s 4C began the brand’s return to America and we enjoyed putting it against the competition in our feature film "Mid-Engines & Mountains". A year later we found ourselves in Carmel with access to the latest variant, the targa-topped “Spider”.
This review was shot as part of a very busy weekend of driving and sightseeing amidst the many events of Pebble Beach 2015. We had a small window of time to fight the traffic surging for the show and find a few minutes of open road on the fantastic Big Sur section of Pacific Coast Highway 1.
From my first chance to punch the accelerator, I realized the Spider is the better 4C. I don’t say that lightly, as I far prefer coupes to convertibles. The windy open-topped driving experience offered here, especially on a road as scenic as Highway 1, cause you to drive a bit slower and enjoy your surroundings even more. This is the perfect kind of driving to match the Alfa’s capabilities. Plus, the exotic lines of the 4C deserve a topless variant.
We drove the coupe in all conditions and discovered the 4C is not a car for track or traffic. The transmission isn’t fast enough for track work, or smart enough for stop and go. The steering won’t tell you everything on the road, and the back lets go before it should with a sudden surge of sideways torque. The result is a fast back-road tool, enjoyable at the upper reaches of its ability, but not the ragged edge. By adding the sounds, wind, and involvement of a topless car, the Alfa settles into its natural pace. This car isn’t as sharp as a Lotus Elise, or as all around usable as a Porsche Cayman. In this form, the 4C gets to excel at what it does best.
The Spider delivers on its exotic looks with top down exhaust note symphonies, better visibility, and a free suntan. It only asks that you find a road to truly enjoy it. And while it does have a top if things turn nasty, I’d suggest you pack sunscreen and go in search of a distant lunch spot with a great view.
The Spider is exactly what it needs to be, not the best, but unique and special.