Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Concept

Alfa Romeo has made all manner of vehicles over the years: hatchbacks, sedans, wagons, coupes... there's even been talk of a crossover. But it could be argued that the quintessential Alfa Romeo is a roadster. While the future of the program with Mazda remains in doubt, Alfa has arrived in Geneva this year with a Spider version of the nimble little 4C.

As anticipated, the 4C Spider chops the roof off the coupe and replaces it with rollover bars, spoilers and windshield frame all made of carbon-fiber and a lightweight canvas top. As a result, the 4C Spider is said to weight just 132 pounds more than the existing fixed-roof version. The low-density Sheet Moulding Compound bodywork has been rebuilt around the rear deck to replace the back, and carbon fiber is visible throughout the open cockpit.

The 1.75-liter turbo 4-cylinder and 6-speed dual-clutch transmission carry over unchanged, as do the performance stats: 0-62 in 4.5 seconds and a top speed "in excess of 155 mph." The 40/60 front/rear weight distribution is also quoted as unchanged from the coupe, maintaining the 4C's handling balance. The 4C Spider also gets more conventional (read: attractive) headlights, and a central exhaust system made by Akrapovic (of motorbike fame) from aluminum and titanium.

Though billed as a Design Preview, the 4C Spider is set to go into production early next year. All we're waiting for now is for Alfa Romeo to finally bring this – and the rest of its lineup – to North America.

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ALFA ROMEO 4C SPIDER DESIGN PREVIEW DEBUTS AT 2014 GENEVA MOTOR SHOW

- Alfa Romeo 4C Spider "avant-prémiere" previews new soft-top scheduled to enter production in 2015
- True to the philosophy of the Alfa Romeo 4C, the Spider Design Preview remains an ultra-lightweight, high-performance driving machine
- Extensive use of carbon fibre and SMC*, as well as a lightweight canvas hood, ensures the Spider retains the Alfa Romeo 4C focus and purity
- Stunning evolutionary design sees the addition of new headlamps, new wheels and an advanced new central exhaust system by Akropovic®

The stunning Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Design Preview makes its world début at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, previewing a new model scheduled to go into production in early 2015. Designed by the Alfa Romeo Style Centre, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Design Preview takes full advantage of the ultra-rigid construction and distinctive design of the coupé to produce a Spider in the truest sense of the Alfa Romeo tradition – a car that brings the driving experience into even sharper focus by allowing the sounds and sensations of performance to fill the cabin and stir the driver's soul still further.

Structural reinforcement required by safety regulations for open-top vehicles means that the Spider inevitably weighs slightly more than the Alfa Romeo 4C coupé, but thanks to the use of carbon fibre for the rollover bars, spoilers and windscreen frame, as well as the adoption of a lightweight canvas soft top and the replacement of the glass rear screen with a continuation of the SMC* bodywork, the 4C's structural rigidity, mechanical purity and low weight philosophy are not compromised. As a result, the additional weight of the open-top transformation has been limited to approximately 60kg.

The purposeful stance and stunning form of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider has been evolved to ensure the highest levels of aerodynamic efficiency and downforce, resulting in impressive high-speed stability, while at the same time minimising the open-top air turbulence in the passenger compartment.

Apart from allowing the driver to connect even more closely with their surroundings, bestowing the Spider treatment on the Alfa Romeo 4C also allows the world to get a better view of what is a truly special and unique interior. Carbon fibre dominates the cabin, but not as a decorative afterthought - the monocoque of the 4C Spider Design Preview is constructed entirely from this distinctive material and is clearly visible in the centre console, door sills and rear bulkhead, for example.

The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Design Preview also debuts a new dual-stage central exhaust system with titanium and carbon tailpipes by Akrapovic®, a company which produces competition exhaust systems for numerous motorcycle classes including Moto GP, Superbike, Supersport, Motocross and Enduro. A key feature of the new exhaust is an electrically-operated valve system which can improve performance and enhance the exhaust note at the push of a wirelessly-linked button.

Powered by Alfa Romeo's new four-cylinder, all-aluminium, 1750 Turbo Petrol engine, which drives the rear wheels via a six-speed, dual dry-clutch Alfa TCT transmission, the 4C Spider's performance is all but identical to that of the hardtop Alfa Romeo 4C: 0 to 62mph takes just 4.5 seconds and top speed is in excess of 155mph. In addition, the outstanding deceleration and lateral acceleration performance, and the balanced 40:60 front-to-rear weight distribution, remain unaffected by the evolution from coupé to Spider.

Complementing its show-stopping presence, new carbon fibre clamshell headlights have been fitted to the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Design Preview, as have new alloy wheels which have been milled from solid aluminium blocks and shod with bespoke Pirelli tyres. Finished in three-layer gloss white, which helps emphasise the car's beautifully sculpted shape and masterfully resolved surfaces, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Design Preview is undoubtedly the highlight of the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.