Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Review

The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider has the looks, engine and badge to make it a superb open-top sports car. The trouble is, it isn’t much fun to drive, is uncomfortable and has a low-rent interior.

5/10
Wowscore

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Striking looks
  • Punchy performance
  • Exhaust note

What's not so good

  • Looks expensive
  • Uncomfortable
  • Interior quality

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Overall verdict

Let’s be honest, you’ve imagined yourself blasting along a sunny country road in a beautiful sports car, roof down, exhausts blaring. It’s OK, we all have. Well, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is the small mid-engined open-top of your dreams, and Italy’s answer to cars such as the Porsche Boxster and the Lotus Elise. It’s designed to provide thrills, but at the expense of everyday usability.

Such striking looks demand an equally impressive engine and the four-cylinder petrol powering the 4C Spider meets the criteria, but only just. Its 1.75-litre capacity might sound small, but with so little weight to move around an engine isn’t needed. A big turbocharger helps get 237hp, and as a result, the Alfa accelerates from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and won’t stop until it reaches 160mph.

But even though if 4C Spider isn’t short on power, the way it produces it is problematic. The turbocharging makes the throttle a little unresponsive for instance, and all the power comes in one go, without much warning. Together with the way the 4C Spider feels constantly unsettled by changes in road camber, keeping it in a straight line requires lots of concentration.

On a smooth race track it’s less of an issue, and with a weight of less than 1,000kg, a near-perfect-weight distribution, a carbon-fibre underpinning (usually only found in hypercars from the likes of McLaren) and an engine in the middle, the 4C Spider is a formidable track-day car.

If cars were judged solely on their looks, then it’s fair to say the 4C Spider would beat a Boxster or Z4 every day. Sadly, it just isn’t good enough to drive and looks expensive.

Mat Watson
carwow expert

With the roof on, the amount of wind and road noise is good for what is a small, lightweight sports car, but for even more sound-deadening you can opt for a hard-top, also in carbon-fibre. Thanks to a standard wind deflector there is very little wind coming into the cabin with the fabric roof removed and stowed away in the boot.

Getting in and out of the 4C Coupe is an exercise in gymnastics, but chopping off the roof has made things much easier, so long as you don’t hit your face on the gorgeous, but low-slung carbon-fibre windshield frame.

The carbon-fibre theme continues inside the 4C Spider and you’re constantly reminded of the 4C lightness every time you see the unpainted door sills. But that’s just about the only redeeming feature of the cabin – the quality is poor, as is the material choice. You don’t get much in terms of creature comforts either. The leather-upholstered bucket seats can be specified in eye-catching colours with contrasting stitches, but, while they’re very supportive, comfort is minimal.

Then there’s the 118-litre rear storage area – which difficult to call a boot – that’s is only big enough for a laptop bag. Interior storage is also somewhat poor with two mobile phone pockets that, laughably, are too small to accommodate the latest large-screen models. The cupholders seem better suited for espresso cups rather than water bottles too.

All of which wouldn’t matter if the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider was blinding to to drive, but sadly it just can’t keep up with its far more accomplished alternatives in this area, while being a decent amount more to buy too.