Alfa Romeo 8C Spider

What can be said about the 8C Spider, only 35 of which are destined for the U.S. by December 2010? Why it costs twice as much ($301,600) as it should and why only 500 are built I haven't a clue. Are these Alfa Romeo traditions I was unaware of? Doesn't Fiat already have Maserati and Ferrari to fill those low-volume-at-nutty-price shoes?

Regardless, I completely dig the car for all the right reasons. I thought having it in white was a bit fey, but it's a creamy sort of pearl and doesn't feel so Hairdresser Special close-up. And then I ignite the bastard and take off, and almost all conceptual troubles I might have fade to black. The 444-hp dry-sump Ferrari V8 works as well as it does in the Maser Granturismo S, flinging to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds while maintaining the Competizione coupe's top speed of 182 mph.

Fiat Powertrain Technologies is the absolute strongest world-player asset the entire company possesses. For having basically had everything that goes into the 8C Coupe and Spider handed to them on a mandate a few years back, the tech leaders have wrung the maximum from this Maserati cum Ferrari cum Alfa Romeo. Domenico Bagnasco is the 8C's chief engineer and he says the 8C Spider is exactly the version he and everyone else involved were shooting for under challenging circumstances.

The Spider adds just 198 pounds over the coupe for a total of 3,700, thanks in large part to the use of an easy cloth top, carbon-encased windscreen surround, and standard Brembo carbon-ceramic brake discs. Though especially in dynamic curves the overall damper/spring rates of the coupe feel lazy with plenty of body roll-and are not adjustable-in this open-top setting the feel is right at home.

Losing the roof, the 8C Spider is 30 percent less rigid than the coupe, but the thicker anti-sway cross braces combine with softer damper rates and sturdier springs to render the whole package likeable in this lifestyle car.

Hatefully, the V8 is still port-injected and the Marelli-Graziano six-speed automated manual is insufficient-though at its best yet here-but everything works well together. Press the Sport setting for gear changes, throttle touch, steering assist, and VDA traction control thresholds, and the performance exhaust channeling the max power at 7000 rpm lets you know you've entered the engineer's preferred territory. Knock out VDA completely and the 8C Spider is a smoking oversteer circus treat. The 20-inch forged lightweight alloys, Pirellis, and Brembo brakes take it all with suitable Italian machismo.

2010 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider

Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive, two-door convertible

4.7-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve, dry-sump, port injection, updated infinitely adjustable intake camshaft; redline 7500 rpm

Six-speed automated Graziano-Marelli manual, Sport and Auto setups

Front/rear: double-wishbone, thicker anti-sway braces, softer damper settings, harder springs

15.0-inch front and 14.2-inch rear ceramic discs with six-pot aluminum calipers front, four-pot rear; VDA traction control

Wheels and Tires
Forged one-piece Cloverleaf wheels, 8.5x20 (f), 9.5x20 (r) Pirelli P Zero Corsa, 245/35 (f), 285/35 (r)

MSRP: $301.600 (est.)


Peak Power: 444 hp @ 7000 rpm
Peak Torque: 354 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm
0-60 mph: 4.3 sec.
Top Speed: 182 mph

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