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Alfa Romeo Spider 2008 review


Based on the Brera coupe, Alfa Romeo’s latest convertible arrived in Australia last year after a dazzling unveil at the Sydney Motor Show in late 2006. Alfa’s most expensive car down under has arrived with an all-new “Q-Tronic” gearbox and Q4 all wheel drive system in two versions– the $97, 990 3.2 JTS V6 auto tested here (manual $94, 990) and the smaller $73, 990 2.2 JTS Selespeed (manual $69,990). 


Dramatic curves and creases bring together a sleek rounded form on 18 inch alloy wheels. The long sweeping bonnet lines come together at the familiar triangular Alfa grill that sits between wrap around Xenon headlamps. Pronounced rear wheel arches, thick chrome roll bars and a muscular rear end draw attention to the open top character of the car – an intentional design focus.


The inside is simple, consistent with the clean lines and fresh approach of the exterior. There is no mistaking an Alfa interior. The aluminium centre dash panel, the Italian stitched red leather heated seats and the collection of small, round sunken dials accentuate the premium sporty nature of the car.

Dual zone climate control, a super six-speaker Bose stereo, multi-function display, Bluetooth capability and a host of storage compartments all come as standard.


The 136 kW 2.2 JTS is powered by a 2.2 litre in-line four cylinder litre engine that produces 230 Nm of torque, whilst the 3.2 JTS V6, as the name suggests runs on a 191kW 3.2 litre V6 with a substantial 322 Nm of torque.

Both versions are equipped with six speed manual gear boxes and the new `Q-Tronic’ six-speed automatic but the 3.2 JTS comes with Alfa’s Q4 all-wheel-drive system which divides torque 57 per cent to the rear wheels and 43 per cent to the front.

The Spider’s suspension set-up is double wishbone front coupled with a multi-link rear configuration.


Seven airbags are standard for both models, as are ABS, VCD, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, traction control a fully integrated Fire Prevention System.

Complementing these features are wheel spin limiter during take off and a brake assist function to help when changing down through the gears. 

Halligan says

In the early days of the evolution of Ferrari from Alfa Romeo race team owner to exotic car manufacturer, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo were on par from an engineering and reputation point of view. How things changed.

In its later life – after the last of the 1980s rear-wheel-drive GTVs and Spiders; Alfa went astray.

The past GTV is the ugliest car to ever leave Pininfarina’s drawing board and did enormous damage to the reputation of Alfa.

But the Alfa V6 Spider has drawn me back to the brand.

And the attraction started from the moment I adjusted the electric seats to my ideal driving position and dropped the steering wheel closer to my knees. Perfect. And the turning circle to get out of the tight carpark was great.

Through a tunnel and the engine gave a fairly deep unstressed rumble, past the speed camera lights and then I finally touch the accelerator with more than toe pressure. The engine tone changes as does the car’s character. The Spider has two distinct personalities; on one hand it is a beautiful well balanced sport scar that points, tracks and accelerates like an entry level exotic should. On the other hand it is one of the easiest cars to drive.

A highway trip through bucketing rain didn’t unsettle the Alfa, which always felt rock solid, surefooted and capable of higher speed even under these slippery conditions.

My official style council – the wife and kids – gave its design a big tick. This Alfa just looks right, the closer you look at it the more you realise just how good a design it is. It grabs your attention without being overly loud. To me it contains all that is good about Italian design. My wife wants one. Previously she wanted an MX-5.

So would I put it on the shopping list if the funds were available. The competition is stiff; Boxster, SLK, TT and Z4.  The four Germans. The Boxster gets eliminated straight away, my wife wouldn't let me because she considers it a cliche. The Audi is a possibility. I am not a BMW person, I prefer Mercs. So it comes down really to the SLK or the Alfa. Hard choice. Alfa is back on my list and I didn't think I was going to say it so quickly.

Was there anything I didn't like; only the red led readouts within the instrument cluster.

Back to the Alfa and Ferrari relationship. I always thought an Alfa should be for a person that aspires to a Ferrari but knows it is too far out of their bracket. The Spider fits this perfectly.

My wife gave me permission to buy one. Black on black please.

VERDICT: 8.8/10

Wigley says

There is something about Alfas that gets the heart pumping. I wasn’t disappointed either when I laid eyes on it for the first time.

The bulkier rear end makes it look more sporty and muscular and the Brera looking front is always pleasing to the eye.

I love the uniqueness of Alfa interiors. You can see and feel the quality and the effort put into the design. There is nothing complex about the interior design which I like personally.

Vision is great out front but the bulky side pillars – when the roof is up – create a massive blind spot. Because you don’t get a back seat, the visibility when you’re changing lanes isn’t great and you find yourself being extra careful.

The ‘Q-Tronic’ system is good but I prefer VW’s DSG system. There isn’t an immediate response when you use the paddle shift on the Italian car.

But the Q4 all wheel drive plus the stiffer suspension made the car extremely grippy and the steering very accurate, so entering and leaving corners at speed was easy and precise.

The engine note is a deep growl that you can hear a block away but you can’t notice it too much inside, and given that it’s a convertible it was pleasantly surprising how quiet it was in the cabin with the roof on.

And there’s a lot of pleasure from the noise and the thump in the back thrust when you give it some on a straight stretch of road.

VERDICT: 7.8/10


Pricing guides

Based on third party pricing data
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Highest Price

Range and Specs

2.2 JTS 2.2L, PULP, 6 SP $16,500 – 22,990 2008 Alfa Romeo Spider 2008 2.2 JTS Pricing and Specs
3.2 JTS V6 AWD 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $17,200 – 23,980 2008 Alfa Romeo Spider 2008 3.2 JTS V6 AWD Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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