Lightweight Alfa Romeo Spider to return with a lightweight construction and contemporary styling

The new Alfa Romeo Spider will blend lightweight engineering and modern styling with an accessible chassis and a power output of 168bhp when it goes on sale in late 2015.

Based on the next-generation Mazda MX-5 platform and to be built in Japan, the new Spider’s styling is close to final sign-off.

The work is that of Marco Tencone, design chief at Alfa Romeo and Maserati, and his team at Fiat’s Centro Stile and a satellite studio in Japan. 

Tencone’s most recent cars are the Alfa 4C sports car and the new Maserati Quattroporte and Ghibli saloons. Pininfarina, which designed the original boat-tail ‘Duetto’ in the mid-1960s, is understood not to be involved in the design of the new Spider, despite creating the striking 2010 Duettotanta concept.

The Duettotanta blended the slender boat-tail proportions of the original with contemporary body surfacing. Insiders say Centro Stile strived for months to make the design work on a production car.

It is likely that Tencone will take a similar approach for the new Spider, looking at historic design themes but with a very modern interpretation, just as the 33 Stradale has been reimagined for the 4C.

“The new Spider definitely won’t be retro in design,” said a well placed source. “The Spider has to be contemporary and must fit into the range with the modern 4C.”

Another source added: “It would have been easy to go for a retro, boat-tail design, but how would that fit in with the 4C and today’s Alfa designs?”

Among the design features that are understood to feature on the new Spider are conventional headlamp clusters, which will help to give the roadster wider appeal than the hardcore, mid-engined 4C, which is set to go on sale later this year.

The 4C features a single-projector headlight, five circular LED running lights and an indicator bulb set in a contrast-coloured moulding.

The Spider’s front end will be characterised by an Alfa ‘shield’ grille flanked by lower air intake ‘whiskers’, but the execution will be more subtle than that employed on the 4C.

The Alfa and Mazda will share windscreens, windscreen structure, front bulkhead, engine compartments and front and rear axles. Although both cars will be about four metres long and 1.7 metres wide, the Alfa’s styling is said to make it a few centimetres longer than the more minimalist Mazda.  Both cars will be lightweight, tipping the scales at 1000-1100kg, thanks to a large proportion of high-strength steel in the body structure. 

Although the inner structures of the two sports cars will be shared to keep costs down, sources say they won’t have any external panels in common. “They’ll have different bodies,” said one.

The Spider will also be powered by its own engines. Just one capacity is being engineered for launch: a version of the turbocharged 1.4 TB MultiAir, which is offered in the Giulietta in two power outputs of 119bhp or 168bhp. The Spider’s engine is understood to be the more powerful version. 

Although the Spider will require longitudinal engine installation, Alfa Romeo sources say the TB unit can be modified to fit. It will be mated to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

Given the variation of major components, commonality between the Spider and the MX-5 will be relatively low, at about 40 per cent. A more typical figure for joint-platform projects is 60 per cent.

The Spider will be given its own chassis tune once development work starts. The current thinking is to give the Spider accessible suspension settings focused on everyday driving to distinguish it from the hardcore 4C.

“But we haven’t started work on it yet,” said one source. “We’re concentrating on the 4C at the moment.”

It also looks like the Alfa and Mazda roadsters will be launched separately. The Mazda is slated for an early 2015 reveal, but the Alfa could be held back until November.

 

Our Verdict

Alfa Romeo 4C

The 4C is Alfa's first true driver's car for decades, and it shows how brilliantly a small turbo four can go and sound in a lightweight package

Join the debate

Comments
15

29 July 2013

The headlights on the 4C is hideous and looks like it should belong on a cheap 1990's era kit car.

I'm happy those ugly pimpled warts didn't end up on this beautiful Spider. 

29 July 2013

I hope it's the gorgeous thing in picture 2, rather than the main picture, which reminds me too much of the late Z3.

29 July 2013

This has the potential to be great but not if its only offered with a dual clutch gearbox. By all means have one as an option but a 6 speed manual should be standard. I sincerely hope Mazda don't follow Alfas lead on this one.

29 July 2013

No Toyota engine!,instead, stuck with an Alfa unit,and, with today's tech, why no 200bhp unit?,don't give this Sportscar thing about handling,light weight, the smug 25yr heritage nonsense, i seem to remember that BBR did conversions,and they were well received.

Peter Cavellini.

29 July 2013

Why would there be a Toyota engine in it Peter? And it is a 168bhp engine that will be available at launch, more than likely meaning that more will follow. Besides, there is more to a great enjoyable car than maximum about of power. Case in point is the current hot hatchs. Fiesta has less the pug/polo/clio yet is described by almost every magazine as the most fun. Same goes for the swift sport and the twingo, both cracking cars, but with very modest outputs.

-----

10 years of Smart ownership over, sensible car mode activated

289

29 July 2013

@superstevie

 

Here here, this is more in line with the 60's Spiders...modest power but enough to be fun at a reasonable cost....way to go!

29 July 2013

Am i the only one who would prefer my Mazda sports car to have a Mazda badge on it?

And quite possibly the Mazda will retain a naturally aspirated engine (hopefully) and a manual box (probably) and cost less (very likely), all of which seem a good reason not to have a Japanese made Alfa.

289

29 July 2013

@ Artill

...well personally I couldnt bring myself to drive any car no matter how good with a Mazda badge on it....even the name makes me shudder -  and I still remember the episode of 'Men behaving Badly' when Tony (jealous of someone taking Debs out on a date in his MX5) made a certain hand gesture as he sneered Mazzzdddaa!.....sort of summed up my feelings in one go.

You have to be a certain sort of bloke to drive a MX5, but it seems that there are a lot of them as it has been a sales success.

Just not for me.

29 July 2013

artill wrote:

Am i the only one who would prefer my Mazda sports car to have a Mazda badge on it?

And quite possibly the Mazda will retain a naturally aspirated engine (hopefully) and a manual box (probably) and cost less (very likely), all of which seem a good reason not to have a Japanese made Alfa.

I can see what you're saying, but on looks alone the Alfa version will probably get my vote: The images of the forthcoming MX5 version look terrible with that oversized front grille, maybe they aren't completely accurate, but the new 3 suggests they may well be.

The possibility of an auto only gearbox is disappointing, what happened to the idea of giving consumers more choice nowadays?

29 July 2013

Whatever the Alfa Romeo Spider body/interior is to look like - just KEEP THOSE WHEELS.

Those “five-circle” (horseshoe) wheels, ARE Alfa Romeo !!

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week