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Alfa Romeo Spider 3.2 JTS 2008 review

The Alfa Spider packed with more goodies than an Armani store. But you better be prepared for the expenses.
EXPERT RATING
7.8

The masters of style and elegance (that's right, those Italians) have delivered with this Brera-inspired Spider.

With a really sleek and elegant design, it certainly doesn't go unnoticed, especially with the top down and exploring that throaty growl.

But at $97,990, it's true what they say: class and style doesn't come cheap. The Spider has all the recognisable Alfa traits; the family nose, the horseshoe alloy wheels and the familiar dash design with a driver focus on the interior.

It's the type of car that makes you want to go out and change your whole wardrobe to match. Forget wearing daggy tracky-daks in this stunner, unless of course they've been blessed with an Italian designer label.

The stunning deep-red leather interior, the Alfa insignias embroidered into the seats and adorning the doorsteps and the sporty yet chic exterior all combine to make it an all round stylish package.

The Spider is closely related to other Alfa siblings, sharing the 159's platform but with a shorter wheelbase, and was inspired by the Brera.

But with its own character, the Spider becomes more than just a derivative of any other model.

Its long bonnet, compact rear and the lack of the side creases seen on previous models makes it a standout.

It not only glistens in the looks department, with a design that was developed in co-operation with Pininfarina and the Alfa Romeo Centre, but it also has performance that screams for the attention.

The model tested was the 3.2-litre JTS. It's not only design that is closely related to other models, but this engine too — the six cylinder also found in the 159 and Brera. Pumping out 191kW at 6300rpm and 322Nm at 4500rpm, the two seater sports car races from 0-100km/h in seven seconds. Not overly quick, but it does get there feeling very sporty and 90 per cent of max torque is available from 1800rpm right up to 6250rpm.

Also contributing to the strong performance is the Q4 permanent all-wheel-drive system that the V6 features as standard.

Under normal driving conditions, 57 per cent of power goes to the rear wheels, and 43 per cent to the front.

The rear-wheel bias provides better handling qualities, felt by the traction when coming out of corners.

The Q-Tronic six-speed auto box lets the engine rev right up to 5000rpm before changing gears under harder acceleration. There is also the option of sliding into manual mode and using the steering-wheel mounted paddles.

The only problem here is the gearbox takes over automatically around 5000rpm if you haven't already made the shift, which means you don't quite get to the higher end of the tacho.

There's also a bit of a delay when shifting gears yourself. While the brakes in the Spider pull you up very quickly, on our test they are initially sticky and stay depressed even after you release your foot from the pedal.

And when the display starts to show the Vehicle Dynamic Control and Hill Descent were not working, it's time for a call to Alfa. An Alfa spokesman says the brake pedal has been pressed too hard and one of the sensor points bent, which means the sensor that measures when the pedal is pressed is no longer getting a clean signal.

That trips the ABS system into fault mode. Once the sensor is back where it should be, everything returns to normal and braking action feels a lot more confident. On the road, the Spider is a comfortable and firm ride and even on rough roads you're still held strongly in the very cosy seat.

There's speed sensitive, power-assisted steering (which makes the car easy to manoeuvre), although it does still possess the stronger steering characteristics you'd expect from an Alfa. And while the price tag is high, it does come packed with some quality features — all as standard.

These include chrome roll bars, a wind break, electronic folding roof, cruise control, automatic dual-zone climate control, Bose audio system and — keeping you most comfortable — the Pieno Fiore sports leather, electrically adjustable heated seats. It's also fitted with seven airbags and Vehicle Dynamic Control and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution.

Running costs are not cheap either: while it has a claimed consumption of 11.5 litres per 100km, during our drive, the trip computer readout showed the average consumption to be as high as 19 litres per 100km at times. But if image is everything, you'll definitely be getting the tongues wagging in this.

 

The bottom line

Stylish is one word you'll become very familiar with.

 


Snapshot

Alfa Romeo Spider

Price: $97,990

Engine: 3.2L/V6, 191kW/322Nm

Transmission: Q-Tronic 6-speed auto

Economy: 11.5L/100km

 

The rivals

Bmw Z4 Roadster

Price: $94,000

Engine: 3.0L/6-cyl, 196kW/315Nm

Transmission: 6-speed auto

Economy: 9L/100km

 

Audi TT Roadster

Price: $92,900

Engine: 3.2L/6-cyl, 184kW/320Nm

Transmission: S-Tronic 6-speed auto

Economy: 9.5L/100km

 

Mercedes-Benz SLK 280

Price: $102,900

Engine: 3.0L/V6, 170kW/300Nm

Transmission: 7-speed auto

Economy: 9.5L/100km

 

Pricing Guides

$22,220
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$18,920
Highest Price
$25,520

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
2.2 JTS 2.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $19,470 – 24,640 2008 Alfa Romeo Spider 2008 2.2 JTS Pricing and Specs
3.2 JTS V6 AWD 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $20,130 – 25,520 2008 Alfa Romeo Spider 2008 3.2 JTS V6 AWD Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.8
Pricing Guide

$18,920

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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