It's fair to say that before the tie-up that created Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, it had been some time since any of Chrysler's various brands offered a true sports car.
The company has long specialized in muscle cars, but to find a quick vehicle that could also take a corner with any ability you'd have to go back to the SRT versions of the Neon and Caliber.
But along with Fiat came Alfa Romeo, one of Italy's most accessible brands and the maker of the 4C, a tiny two-seater that rivals the Lotus Elise for driver-centric engineering.
Available in coupe and convertible variants, for 2019 the latter sees a backup camera, cruise control and rear parking sensors added to the car's standard kit, all of which used to be part of a convenience group that's no longer offered. New stand-alone options include a race-tuned suspension, microfibre steering wheel and carbon fibre mirrors that can be further adorned with the Italian flag; all of those items used to be bundled in a track package. (The 4C is covered in a separate buyer's guide entry.)
The 4C Spider’s fundamentals consist of a 1.75L turbocharged four-cylinder and six-speed dual-clutch transmission that are bolted into a super-lightweight carbon fibre chassis that weighs less than 1,135 kg. The engine’s prodigious output of 237 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque is enough to move the 4C from 0-100 km/h in a claimed 4.1 seconds.
This is about as minimalist as an Italian car gets. You’ll find no touchscreen infotainment in here, with Alfa instead installing a single-DIN stereo above manual air conditioning controls that would look at home in a subcompact economy car. The new backup camera is a nice addition to compensate for the view through the tiny rear window.
The 4C's steering has no power assist and provides a direct line between the road and the driver’s hands, and neutral handling makes the 4C a blast to drive hard on your favourite back road.
When it’s time to play alongside other traffic, the tiny engine promises reasonably thrifty fuel consumption, estimates for which are 9.7/6.9 L/100 km.
Yes, the Spider is a convertible, but all you can actually remove is a panel between the windshield header and roll bar, so the car maintains is striking profile whether the top is in place or not. You have to pay for the privilege of going topless, however, as the Spider commands a steep premium over its coupe counterpart.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed