2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

Episode 3507
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

You may have thought the all-business 4C sports car was an odd choice for Alfa Romeo to spearhead its return to the U.S.  But, it clearly makes the point that performance will be paramount as Alfa goes forward here. And before the sedans and crossovers start trickling in, they’ve given us one more treat to sample, the 4C Spider. 

As we’ve already noted, the minimalist Alfa Romeo 4C is not for everyone. And chances are this 2015 4C Spider will also have limited appeal. But, those willing to take a chance on either, will be slipping into something special indeed.

In mid-engine drop-top roadster fashion, the Spider in the name refers to the removable roof panel. When you take it off, the resulting open air space above you may be minimal, but it only adds to the purely exhilarating experience of the 4C. 

Actually, the standard cloth top is the definition of minimal and rather flimsy. While removal is step intensive, it’s not difficult. Best option, just keep it off and the car parked in the garage on rainy days.Or go for the optional carbon fiber hardtop.

Top on or off, once underway, the Spider feels plenty solid and secure. It’s also surprisingly quiet with the top on. 

And no matter what is or isn’t keeping the rays off your dome, this car is still the only new car that delivers the “road rushing at you sensation” of 60’s era exotics.

It feels fast, but not struggling to keep it under control fast. Like most lightweight roadsters, it’s all about getting through corners quickly not necessarily making it to the next one in a hurry.

Keeping with the theme, the interior is equally unembellished, even resorting to a non-intuitive aftermarket Alpine which had no satellite radio, but did include Pandora. 

Seats offer just enough comfort and there’s plenty adequate room inside to operate. Our taller drivers had a hard time seeing all of the gauges; which is a shame as they are pretty darn cool. 

Oh yeah, there are things to nitpick, but barely, and in doing so you’re mostly missing the point of the car. There’s limited luggage space, though, unlike many convertibles, the top takes up very little of it.

While at just 1.7-liters of displacement, you might think the turbo power plant diminutive as well, but it has surprisingly more guts than the 237-horsepower number would indicate. And you’ll absolutely enjoy wringing all 258 lb-ft. of torque out of it. 

Same as the Coupe of course, as are the 6-speed twin-clutch transmission and DNA dynamics selector, which allows you to choose between All-Weather, Natural, Dynamic, and Race settings. There’s no doubt it gets up to speed in a hurry, not exactly in a high dollar exotic car kind of way; more of a snarly tiny terror as it hits 60 in 4.3-seconds, just as in the only 22 lbs. lighter Coupe. 

The gearbox shifts impeccably whether in manual or auto mode, and gear spacing is right on; with 3rd gear being the real workhorse. Despite an identical start, we managed to clear the ¼-mile a 10th quicker than the hard top at 12.9-seconds and 107 miles per hour.

When you keep the throttle pinned in this car, all of your senses are fully engaged; the noises that it makes are truly magnificent. Steering is still fully manual, and the car stays flat as the proverbial pancake. 

But that’s just the start of the overused clichés we’ll apply here… turns on a dime… handles like it’s on rails… feels like a go-kart… …pick your favorite. 

Brakes are perfect as well. Stops from 60 averaged just 90-feet, with super short pedal travel, good feel, and hardly any nose dive. 

Outside of the roof, nothing changes to the exterior design. It still has the ¾-scale “exotic Italian by way of Lotus” look that makes it a visual winner.

Standard staggered 17/18-inch wheels can be upgraded to 18/19’s; but keep in mind the performance tires can be a handful on wet roads, they also find every groove in the pavement. And since there’s a direct connection to the steering wheel, you’ll be clued in immediately. 

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are the same as in the hardtop, 24-City, 34-Highway, and 28-Combined. We managed a very good 32.7 miles-per-gallon of Premium. So the Energy Impact Score is better than average, with 11.8-barrels of annual oil consumption with 5.2-tons of CO2 emissions. 

If we didn’t already love the 4C enough, the Spider’s base pricing of $65,495 had us seriously contemplating refinancing our debt, finding a dealer, and putting some serious money down. 

Back to essence, not necessarily back to basics, is what the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is all about. It is not minimalism for the sake of it. But, it is maximizing driving pleasure by encapsulating the spirit of the 60’s exotics in modern hardware. A winning formula that more people need to take advantage of.

Specifications

  • Engine: 1.7 liter
  • Horsepower: 237
  • Torque: 258 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 4.3 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 12.9 seconds @ 107 mph
  • EPA: 24 mpg city/ 34 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 11.8 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 5.2 tons/yr
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 1

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Still A Miata, And That’s A Great Thing

Episode 4340
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When the cool little Mazda MX-5 Miata arrived for 1990, it immediately triggered a host of imitators and sparked a genuine global roadster revival. While that fad has faded, America’s love affair with the MX-5 has stayed strong. And, we’re pretty sure we know why!

The 2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata is probably one of the most recognizable cars on the road, and it has a way of putting a smile on our face every time we see one, not to mention any time we get a chance to hop behind the wheel. The Miata concept really hasn’t changed drastically over the last three decades, proof that Mazda got the formula right from the beginning.

Rear-wheel drive, minimal weight, tight suspension, willing engine, superb manual shifter, simple folding top, and just enough creature comforts to make long drives as pleasant as carving up backroad twisties.
An overload of power has never been part of that equation, and many may still decry the lack of horsepower, but just a reminder, this car was meant to rekindle the spirit of British roadsters from the 1960s that were a pure joy to drive, and had engines half as powerful as what the Miata works with today, which is a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter I4 with 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque.

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Front
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Profile
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Rear
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Front Detail
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Rear Detail
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Front2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Profile2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Rear2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Front Detail2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Rear Detail

A six-speed manual transmission remains the standard; you must upgrade to top Grand Touring trim to even get the available six-speed automatic. And it all works together to deliver a joyful driving experience that few other vehicles can match.

The exterior design has gotten more purposeful and less cartoonish over the years; new for this year is updated lighting which now incorporates the LED DRLs into the headlight assembly, as well as a more cohesive design for the full LED taillights, plus some fresh wheel choices.

Continual upgrades under the skin too, with a new asymmetric limited-slip differential for all manual-equipped Miatas. Its purpose is to minimize oversteer, and if you think that means it’s less fun, you’d be wrong.

The perfect feel and action of the shifter keeps you looking for reasons to shift gears.

It was still a blast to dart through the handling course at our Mason Dixon test track and on the autocross circuit at Summit Point Motorsports Park. Minimal body roll and perfectly neutral handling had us scooting through the turns with ease. Kinematic Posture Control was added back in ’22, using selective braking to tighten up cornering. Adding to it for ’24 is a new steering rack and updated software for the Electric Power Assisted Steering that provides better on-center feel and more precise control.

7.0 seconds to 60 mph won’t exactly get your blood pumping, but it’s plenty adequate for the Miata’s mission and the engine sounds great for a four-cylinder. The perfect feel and action of the shifter keeps you looking for reasons to shift gears. But keep those engine revs above 6,000 for the most power. We did and our best quarter-mile was 15.4 at 92 mph.

Our average braking distance of 118 feet from 60 mph may have been a little longer than we’re accustomed to from a performance car these days, but their predictable and fade-free nature will give you plenty of confidence at your next track day.

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Dashboard
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Seats
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Instrument Cluster
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Central Display
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Shifter
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Trunk
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Engine
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Dashboard2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Seats2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Instrument Cluster2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Central Display2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Shifter2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Trunk2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Engine

Things remain all business in the cockpit, with everything falling readily to hand, and comfortable seats locking you in place. The most notable change in here for ’24 is a bigger infotainment screen, growing from 7.0 to 8.8 inches.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings with the manual are 26 City, 34 Highway, and 29 Combined. That’s a slightly better than average Energy Impact Score of 10.3 barrels of annual oil use, with 5.0 tons of CO2 emissions.
Starting price is only $30,170; top Grand Touring goes for $35,470.

It’s true that the Mazda MX-5 Miata has barely evolved over the years; but fortunately for all of us, virtually all of the ways that it has changed have been for the better, yet even in 2024, it remains incredibly affordable. It has been such a constant presence and passion for so many of our MotorWeek staffers over the years it seems like it has been around for a lot longer than just three decades, and thankfully, it looks like there’s no slowing the Miata down.

Specifications

As Tested

  • Engine: 2.0-liter I4
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Horsepower: 181
  • Torque: 151 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 7.0 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.4 seconds at 92 mph
  • 60-0 Braking: 118 feet (avg)
  • EPA: 26 City | 34 Highway | 29 Combined