Love at first sight – isn’t that something that only happens when you’re young? As we become older we grow more wary of love’s tangled web – don’t we? Garth Sumpter meets a Spider and it’s love at first sight…
There’s something about sportscars that most car journalists seem to miss. It’s a little something called unconditional love. Most of us will only ever have it for our children. Occasionally, we may be fortunate enough to find it in our mate. And, if you’re lucky, and I mean very, very lucky, you’ll one day get that feeling when you meet the car of your dreams…
Most Alfa Romeo fans have a tempestuous history of past loves, where their passion has meant that love and hate are only separated by a heartbeat or a breakdown… And so enters the Alfa Romeo Spider 2.4JTDM…
As the first diesel-powered soft-top Italian sportscar in the world, this car has a huge reputation to live up to. And as it’s an Alfa, part of it is about reliability, and as it’s an Italian sportscar, is also all about looks. And here it’s sexier than a supermodel, and has more attraction than a black hole. In fact, when I drove it, passers by couldn’t take their eyes off it, so we should all agree now… the car is utterly gorgeous. The lines of the car are so dramatic, bold and sensuous, you’re not sure whether to drive it or ask it to marry you! Our car was delivered in Misano blue with blue and tobacco leather seats, but to be honest, like Heidi Male so many years ago, it would have looked just as good to me if it had turned up in a smoke grey blazer and blue pleated skirt. (Heidi wouldn’t have looked too bad in blue leather either!) And once you take the top down, well that’s it – you’re smitten! (We’re back to talking about the car now! Try to keep up eh?)
These beguiling looks are based around the car’s older sister, the WDC Coupé of the Year, the Guiorgetto Giugiaro-designed Brera, and which have been further developed by Pininfarina and Alfa Romeo’s Centro Stile. I think Alfa’s sports range now have a family feel to them, and have already helped the Spider (in petrol guise) to win the Cabrio of the Year award at the 2006 Geneva Motorshow.
Inside, our test car was decked with blue and tobacco leather seats. This is probably the only extra you truly need too as standard trim levels are very high, and the Spider seems so much more opulent as a result. Seats are very supportive and offer good lateral support – which are ideal as the Spider’s sporting heritage and excellent balance, means that the car sits flat in corners with little roll, yet lots of centrifugal force trying to force you out of your seat. Powered by three engines, a 2.2 185bhp petrol, 3.2 V6 petrol and a five-cylinder, 20- valve, 200bhp JTD Multijet with variable vane geometry to push to the car from 0-62mph in a rapid 8.4secs and onto a top speed of 142mph.
Inside the car you can get comfy. The rake and reach adjustable steering wheel is easy to position and carries remote buttons for all audio functions and the car’s Bluetooth phone/MP3 system (a £300 extra called Blue&Me, developed in conjunction with Microsoft). Once you feel in control, you can set the driver’s seat to your preference, although if you’re over 5’8” the height adjustable seat is of little use, as with the roof down, you’ll have the top of your head blown if you pump the seat up more than a couple of inches. The seats on the test car, as mentioned earlier, were tightly wrapped in soft leather and firm and gently unyielding but sensuous to the touch – a bit like a top-classmadam, (I would guess!) The Spider is similar, adorned to simple, but expensive-looking levels using metal and soft touch leather. Yes, this is no phone box business card madam! It just oozes class and style, from the Misano blue exterior to the blue and tobacco leather seats, it’s hard not to fall for it the moment you see it! The dashboard and controls are all elegantly presented, with the familiar, Alfa clocks deep set in a roughly brushed aluminium style facia. There’s even a boost gauge to let you know just how much extra you’re calling on the engine to do!
On the road, the car is nearly faultless. A fivecylinder engine gives all the benefits of four and six without any real drawbacks, yet offering 30mpg+. There is only one first love, and there is currently only one soft-top two-seater diesel sportster to buy, so it’s comforting that the Spider is that choice. The passionless will try to persuade you to get something more practical and reliable with four seats. But, if like me, love at first sight can still happen, then buy one today and fill your life with passion. Think it over and buy any other car, and you’ll fill your life with regret.
On sale from: November // Retail price: £28,995 // WDC? Best price: £26,490 (dealdrivers.co.uk) You should also try // There are no other two-seat soft-top diesels!
- Price: £28,995 (with leather, 18”wire spoke wheels,bluetooth, metallic paint, £31,395)WDC? Best Price: £26,490 (entry level model) (www.dealdrivers.co.uk)
- Engine: 2,387cc, five-in-line cylinder with variable geometry
- Max Power: 200bhp at 4000rpm
- Max Torque: 295lbs ft at 2,000prm
- Max towing weight: 1500kg
- Combined Consumption:41.5mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 179g/km (E)
- 0-62mph: 8.4secs (driver +30kg)
- Max speed: 142mph
Electric fabric roof / folding heated mirrors, 2xtwin chrome exhausts,17″ 5 hole alloys, 225/50/17R tyres, Stainless steel kick plates, electronic key, start/stop button, puddle lights, rear parking sensors,wind deflector, trip computer, reach and rake adjustable steering wheel with remote audio/phone functions, cruise control, front/side/driver and passenger knee airbags, 6-speaker Radio/CD player with MP3 input
EXTRAS FITTED TO TEST CAR:
(£31,395 Total OTR price)
Metallic paint £400
Leather seats £1,000
Blue&Me (Comms Pack) £300
18” wire spoke design alloys £700
Looks to die for. Iconic, head-turning, envious allencompassing beauty. It’s the ONLY 2-seater soft top diesel you can currently get!
Open top motoring only for those under 5’10” unless you want to try to see the road through the top windscreen rim while the top of your head stands proud!
When you’re older you recognise the feeling immediately – you can almost perceptibly feel your pupils dilating, your cheeks flushing and your whole body lightening. You may even have to hold onto something solid and stop breathing – just in case your next breath is enough to let you take flight. I’ve only ever had that feeling three times that I remember. The first time was at junior school when I first set my eyes on Heidi Male. I found the feeling so scary that I spent the next five years avoiding her, and the next 30 years questioning my decision. The next time was when my daughter Rosie was born. She looked like a 7lb 5oz version of Nelson Mandela, but on that Saturday morning at 11.37am, I suddenly realised why my parents had put up with me for so long. So that’s it I thought, no more kids and a healthy wariness of the opposite sex, should protect my heart until I die… Or until the Alfa Spider arrived!