If the noises coming out of Turin are to be believed, Italy’s once-proud sporting institution, Alfa Romeo, is right now on the cusp of a bold and uncompromising new dawn.

And like just about all Europeans with a good dose of petrol in their veins, we’re praying it’s not another false one.

This year’s new Giulia saloon will be the first model of many to reinvigorate Alfa Romeo entirely, say the company’s top brass, and to redefine it as one of the world’s most dynamic, exciting and emotionally appealing premium automotive brands.

In Alfa’s brave new world, its cars will rule their respective classes on handling appeal and power-to-weight ratio. All will be bona fide premium offerings and design icons, with desirable coupés, mid-sized executive saloons and luxury SUVs all in the pipeline.

And barring the replacement for the Mito supermini, all will be either rear or four-wheel drive. The Germans had better watch out – and the Americans had better be ready with their cheque books.

Here they go again. But, for now at least, we can dare to believe in it. And this week, we’re giving Alfa Romeo a chance to remind us that it’s capable of producing the extraordinary. Having missed the opportunity to put its ambitious 4C Coupé through the road test mill, we’re hopping to it with the new open-top version: the intriguing 4C Spider.

The 4C Coupé was launched in 2013 and became the latest in a line of special low-volume productions after the 8C Competizione, the SZ and the Montreal.

Hand-built at sister brand Maserati’s Modena plant and in possession of a weight-saving carbonfibre tub, the 4C was intended as halo car and icon: to herald Alfa’s triumphant return to the US market. And it still may.

So can the cloth-topped 4C bring even more sporting appeal and successfully whet our appetites for the grand Alfa revival to come?

Top 5 Sports cars

  • Jaguar F-Type Coupé
    The F-type has an aluminium monocoque construction with aluminium double wishbones front and rear

    Jaguar F-Type Coupé

    1
  • Aston Martin V8 Vantage
    Aston Vantage's classic proportions are suitably timeless and desirable

    Aston Martin V8 Vantage

    2
  • Lotus Evora
    The Evora uses a heavily tweaked version of Toyota's all-alloy 3.5-litre V6 engine

    Lotus Evora

    3
  • Nissan GT-R
    The super-coupé bargain of the decade

    Nissan GT-R

    4

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  •  Kia Optima PHEV
    First Drive
    25 August 2016
    Plug-in hybrid Optima is a practical, tax-efficient PHEV that undercuts rivals and fulfils its main remit well, but keen drivers need not apply
  • Kia Optima Sportwagon
    First Drive
    25 August 2016
    New Kia estate looks the part, has good space and handles tidily, but its engine's flexibility and refinement let it down
  • Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 Spyder
    First Drive
    24 August 2016
    Awful driving position aside, drop-top Huracán handles UK roads well. It's more dynamically rounded than its rangemates, but lacks rivals' handling bite
  • Porsche Panamera 4S Diesel
    First Drive
    23 August 2016
    Its predecessor may have been a bit limp, but the Porsche Panamera 4S Diesel is crushingly rapid and suitably luxurious
  • Car review
    23 August 2016
    Can the best sports coupé of the decade absorb a contentious new engine?