How better to enhance the appeal of a sultry Italian sports car than by removing its roof and exposing the occupants to the elements? That's the line of thinking that led Alfa Romeo to introduce the 4C Spider at this week's Geneva auto show.
Alfa Romeo calls this 4C Spider a "design preview" of the real car, but this is barely a concept. The fully-formed model is based on the same carbon-fiber construction and petite, highly sculpted bodywork seen on the existing 4C coupe. The Spider weighs more than the hardtop because Alfa had to strengthen the bodywork and add carbon-fiber roll bars, but the weight gain is said to total only 132 pounds.
Despite swapping its solid roof for a fabric one, the basic, aggressive design of the Alfa Romeo 4C is untouched. The low hood bears Alfa's well-known triangular snout, with oval-shaped headlights on the front fenders. Behind the doors, the bodywork sweeps up, flying buttress-style, before gently falling to the stubby decklid and gracefully integrated rear spoiler. The fenders swell above the rear wheels, and prominent intakes aft of the doors feed the mid-mounted engine. Whereas the hardtop has one exhaust tip at either end of the rear fascia, the 4C Spider keeps them together in the center of the car.
The engine, as in the 4C coupe, is an Alfa Romeo 1.8-liter turbocharged inline-four, with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission linking it to the rear wheels. Sixty-two mph arrives in a claimed 4.5 seconds, and the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider will top 155 mph. Moreover, the company says that braking and handling will be almost identical to the coupe's performance.
The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider will go on sale in Europe in 2015. It's unknown when the car might come to the U.S. market, and it's worth remembering that the arrival of the standard 4C coupe has already been delayed countless times. However, Alfa Romeo now says the 4C hardtop will arrive stateside in the second quarter of this year, giving us hope that within a year or so we'll have a chance to sample the beautiful, lithe 4C Spider in America.