In other respects, the 2010 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider mirrors the companion Competizione (which, despite the name, is not intended for racing). That means lightweight carbon-fiber body panels, a shortened version of Maserati's new Granturismo 2+2 coupe unibody, and a 4.7-liter V8 originated by Ferrari, another member of the Fiat Auto family. (Incidentally, 8C is a historic Alfa designation for otto cylindri--eight cylinders.) The only transmission is a rear-mounted six-speed automated manual with steering-wheel paddle shifters. Also reprised for the 2010 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider are a four-wheel independent suspension with classic double-wishbone geometry, large four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, standard stability/traction control, limited-slip differential, hydraulic-assist rack-and-pinion steering, and 20-inch alloy wheels wearing Y-rated 245/35 tires in front and 285/35s in back. The coupe's front/rear weight distribution is 49/51 percent, near ideal for a sporty grand touring car. The Spider may end up a touch more tail-heavy, but perhaps not enough to notice on the road.
Cars with the Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) badge are expected to be very sporty drives, so the 2010 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider must be too.
And that should be no problem, judging by initial reviews of the Competizione coupe. Road & Track magazine, for example, reports 0-60 mph at just 4.2 seconds, racecar-like cornering grip of 1.02g, "phenomenal" braking performance, and pleasantly neutral responses in fast direction changes. R&T also applauds the coupe's roomy-enough cockpit with its "first-rate" fit and finish and elegant trimmings of real carbon fiber, aluminum, and leather. Luggage space, however, is nearly non-existent, and the convertible should have even less--if that's possible.
No matter. Coupe or Spider, the 8C is not meant to be practical. It is, first and foremost, a rewarding "driver's car" in the Alfa tradition, as well as a comfortable and fast long-distance tourer. And that's all it needs to be for the well-heeled gearheads who are drawn to cars like this.
More importantly, the 2010 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider is more glamorous trumpeting for Alfa's return to the U.S. market in model-year 2011. This reportedly involves three models priced much lower than the 8Cs: the 159 sports sedan, the Brera 2+2 coupe, and a new version of the company's mainstream two-seat Spider (think Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate").
With all this, Alfa Romeo's prospects are brighter than they've been in many years, and the small but loyal band of U.S. Alfisti must be well nigh ecstatic. Too bad the 8Cs are so few in number and gone so soon, but that door must close for the next one to open.
A Notable Feature of the 2010 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider
Like the Competizione coupe, the 8C Spider replaces a mechanical shift lever with console-mounted electronic pushbutton controls. There's no mechanical handbrake either, just another "by-wire" switch of the type increasingly common on high-end vehicles. More unusual, perhaps, are the several pricey options that cost little or nothing on most lesser cars, things like an iPod connection and a first-aid kit. Alfa evidently still has a few things to learn about the U.S. market.