The flashy red and sinuous shape that the new alfa Romeo 8c spider has catches your eye first. An elegant and tactile cabin may hook you, but it is the throaty blare of its so-Italian V-8 engine that will ultimately gaff you and land you in the boat. The banshee wail issued by an 8C Spider is so captivating that it should be available for download.
Considering that this car was conceived and designed only as a coupe (making its debut in concept form at the Frankfurt auto show in 2003), the 8C’s Spiderfication comes off superbly. Like a slightly shorter and curvier-than-average supermodel, there’s not a bad line to be found — and plenty of sinuous shapes to appreciate. Carbon-fiber body work bolts and bonds to a steel and aluminum tubular chassis. There’s additional bracing to compensate for the structural strength given up by the loss of its lid. While structural rigidity suffers by nearly 30 percent, the coupe was so strong to begin with that the Spider is a mostly body wiggle-free machine. Alfa bagged the notion of a retractable hardtop, citing high development costs, design compromises in the rear-deck area, and the more coachbuilt nature of a rich-looking soft top. Good call. Weight goes up by about 200 pounds.
The interior of the 8C Spider deserves special attention; it was built in carbon and aluminum which gives it very high touch. The attention to detail stands out; the seats are built in very refined and beautifully finished leather with red stitching. In addition, the controls built in aluminum, making them extremely solid feel.
Under the hood is the Ferrari-designed-and-built 4.7-liter V-8 offered in all current Maseratis. It’s backed by the same six-speed autoclutch manual transaxle that Maserati used to call Cambiocorsa. The car has a power of 450 horses at 7000 revs, its 354-pound-feet torque peak shows up at 4750, and redline is 7500 rpm. The engine sits fully aft of the front axle, and the trans is forward of the rear diff, so the weight of the powertrain is carried inside the wheelbase. Weight balance is 50/50. The biggest functional difference is that the Alfa Romeo 8C Spider gets standard carbon-ceramic brake rotors, something not available — optional or otherwise — on the coupe. Another unique feature is the light yet strong composite windshield frame.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door roadster
BASE PRICE: $301,600
ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
Displacement: 286 cu in, 4691cc
Power (SAE net): 444 bhp @ 7000 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 354 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automated manual
Wheelbase: 104.1 in Length: 172.5 in Width: 74.6 in Height: 53.9 in Curb weight: 3700 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST):
Zero to 60 mph: 4.4 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 9.7 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 12.9 sec
Top speed (drag limited): 181 mph
PROJECTED FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST):
EPA city/highway driving: 12/17 mpg