Alfa Romeo 4C Spider review - better than the coupe, but Alfa's sportster is still flawed - Ride and handling
Removeable roof and styling tweaks add a new layer to the 4C's appeal, but the Spider is still a flawed sports car
Compared to the 4C Coupe, there are detail changes to the front suspension and steering and a marginal shift in weight distribution (40:60 versus 35:65 for the Coupe). Whatever Alfa’s chassis engineers have done has improved the steering. It’s still quite heavy (much heavier than that of an Elise), moves about in your hands and kicks back over ruts and transverse ridges.
However, the steering is much more consistent than in earlier 4C Coupes, weighting up progressively with speed and sending back a less corrupted, more coherent picture of what the front wheels are doing. It’s better appreciated in the more softly-sprung, smaller-wheeled ‘comfort-spec’ Spider, which also does away with the rear anti-roll bar and adds a degree of suppleness and flow to the process, whereas the full-on car is more of a fight.
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The encouraging vibe swiftly evaporates when, during the launch drive in Italy, we hit a long straight with some mild surface contours, as a worrying degree of camber sensitivity returns to derail stability and defeat even the most nuanced attempts to keep the car tracking straight.
More unwelcome 4C foibles join in on what should be a riotous blast on a road that zig-zags into the hills. The Spider romps to the top at an eye-watering lick, but in a series of borderline loony lunges reliant on sky-high reserves of grip and braking power, the laggy engine response and over-zesty mid-range make it impossible to achieve anything like a satisfying rhythm. Again, the more modestly-specced car seems marginally more relaxed without sacrificing anything appreciable in grip.