2010 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider
What more eye-popping way is there to launch our 30th season than to test drive an exotic Italian bombshell like this one? the Alfa Romeo 8c spider, a drop-top variant of the 8C Competizione that blew our minds last year. Prepare yourself for some serious sun chasing as we take this world-class stallion for an open-air run. After a 15 year absence from the American automotive landscape, the Alfa Romeo brand marked its comeback last year with the arrival of the spectacular 8C Competizione. And what a comeback it was!
Acquiring its name and heritage from the supercharged Alfas of the 1930s and 40s, the 8C harkens back to the iconic automobiles known for running the Mille Miglia open road endurance race back in its heyday. Alfa now takes the 8C’s pure Italian sports car character and drops the top for a shot of wind-in-the-hair exhilaration with the 2010 8C Spider.
Dropping the Spider’s soft roof first requires a manual release latch, and then the push of a button. It raises and lowers by way of an electro-hydraulic automatic control system. The top, itself, consists of two overlapping fabrics - the outer is aimed at weathering-proofing; the inner has high sound-proofing qualities for elevating in-cabin acoustics. Like its coupe sibling, the Spider will be in very limited supply. A run of just 500 units have been built at parent company Fiat’s Maserati facility in Modena, Italy. Also, like the coupe, the Spider is based on Maserati underpinnings. Its Wolfgang Egger-designed structure uses beautifully-sculpted carbon fiber body panels.
But with the top up, the Spider doesn’t really preserve the flowing shape of the coupe. It loses the rear sweep of the hard roof and looks a little bobbed-off. But with roof down, it claims a stunning personality that’s all its own. Even among ultra high-end Italian roadsters, this one’s a showstopper like none other. As a product of artful aerodynamics, the Spider promotes the same supreme air flow as the 8C Competizione, from its wide front intakes to its curvy rear haunches.
Motivating this rear-drive convertible is Maserati’s Ferrari-built aluminum block 4.7-liter V8. Output is 444 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. The car does its share of spitting, popping, and gurgling, but those wonderful mechanical sounds are the very nature of this Italian thoroughbred engine.
The 8C Spider uses a transaxle setup with gearbox and differential housed inside the rear axle. The gear change is a six-speed electro-hydraulic automated manual, controlled by F1-style steering column-mounted paddles. Power is in extreme abundance, allowing this 3500-plus pound convertible the capability of reaching 60 at 4.4 seconds - about two tenths slower than the coupe. Top speed is 180. Even at high speeds with the top down, the cabin remains very well shielded from wind and noise, thanks in part to the rear deflector.
In a straight line, the 8C Spider is Hades on wheels, shod with 20-inch Pirelli P- Zeros to be specific. Like the coupe, power has been tuned for a strong delivery with shifts that are smooth and precise. Compared to the coupe, the Spider is a bit more laid back, less high-strung. Suspension tuning has been mellowed toward the Grand Touring driver. The Spider feels a little more forgiving than the Competizione, yet far from soft. Overall, it’s an excellent handler, exhibiting lots of sure-footedness and no detectable cowl shake.
And for higher performance, there is a selectable ‘Sport Mode’ to firm things up, while deepening the exhaust note and upping throttle response. To that end, Electronic Stability Control is present to reel you in if the need arises, but the system is programmed to be minimally invasive. And for stopping, the 8C Spider uses Brembo carbon-ceramic units at all four corners. Hard stops are extremely short.
The 8C’s two-seat cockpit mimics that of the coupe. It unites leather, aluminum, and carbon fiber, with deep gauges and tactile switchgear. The carbon fiber sports seats are covered in handstitched leather, and bolstered for performance driving in mind. The sporting mood is underscored by metalwork like the branded brushed-steel kick plate, aluminum sport pedals, and a specialized limited edition plaque. High-end audio and navigation give the 8C Spider’s classically-inspired interior a more cutting-edge feel.
Cost-wise, the 8C Spider stickers for $301,600. That’s about $18,000 more than the coupe. But even at that price, every single one of them has been spoken for.
The Alfa Romeo 8C Spider is a halo car if there ever was one. Its performance will knock your socks off and, its styling is so sultry it will make you blush. If the Alfa brand is once again looking to get noticed here in America, this car does just that.
- Engine: 4.7-Liter V8
- Horsepower: 444
- Torque: 354 Lb Feet
- 0-60 MPH: 4.4 Seconds