Review: Alfa Romeo Spider (2007 – 2011)

Rating:

Beautifully designed, elegant and classy. V6 sounds great. Decent amount of room in the cabin for a roadster.

Subject to some recalls. None of the engines really sparkles. Awkward driving position for tall people. Suspect weight distribution and ESP led to a recall.

Recently Added To This Review

14 May 2010 Alfa added 1750 TBi and 2.0 JTDM diesel

In addition to the two new engines produced by Fiat Powertrain Technologies (FPT), an exclusive edition trim level will be available, known as Italia Independent – featuring unique content including... Read more

1 March 2006 International debut of new Spider

Named Cabrio of the Year 2006 by a panel of international motoring writers. Styling cues from Giulietta Spider of the ’50s to the Duetto, and the 1990s model. Automatic dual-zone climate control,... Read more

Alfa Romeo Spider (2007 – 2011): At A Glance

Third roadster test of the week and at least Alfa Romeo managed to arrange some sunshine.

Brighton wasn't sunny for the Audi TT Roadster, Jerez wasn't sunny for the Peugeot 207CC. But Morocco was for the Alfa. It was so good I'm sorry to tell you we forgot to try it with the top up

Happily the choice of engines was also right: the 3.2V6 Q4, and the 2.2 four-cylinder front-drive. (I'd already done the 2.4 Multijet in the tintop Brera coupe)

It's breathtakingly beautiful to look at, of course. Somehow better balanced and less front-heavy looking than the Brera Coupe.

Alfa Romeo Spider 2007 Road Test

What does a Alfa Romeo Spider (2007 – 2011) cost?

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Alfa Romeo Spider (2007 – 2011): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4393 mm
Width 1830 mm
Height 1318 mm
Wheelbase 2528 mm

Full specifications

Alfa has been a bit clever with the spec, offering only one level of trim (and now offering only one on the Brera too), making the price premium from hard-top to soft-top a straight £2,000. You get quite a lot of kit, including 17" 5-hole alloy wheels with 225/50 R17 tyres, electric folding heated door mirrors, dual zone automatic climate control, five airbags, including drivers knee bag, fog lights, rear parking sensors, cruise control, multifunction display with trip computer, and, of course, an electric folding soft-top with glass rear window that goes up or down in 25 seconds.offering only one on the Brera too), making the price premium from hard-top to soft-top a straight £2,000.

You get quite a lot of kit, including 17 5-hole alloy wheels with 225/50 R17 tyres, electric folding heated door mirrors, dual zone automatic climate control, five airbags, including drivers knee bag, fog lights, rear parking sensors, cruise control, multifunction display with trip computer, and, of course, an electric folding soft-top with glass rear window that goes up or down in 25 seconds.

Its breathtakingly beautiful to look at, of course. Somehow better balanced and less front-heavy looking than the Brera Coupe. The deep boot takes 200 litres of soft baggage, and 35 litres more if youre confident enough to leave the space-saver emergency wheel at home. But like the 207CC, and unlike the Audi TT, MX5, SLK or Nissan 350Z roadster, theres also room behind the seats for extra stuff, with two lockable compartments at the bottom instead of rear seats. Theres plenty of room in the cabin, with enough adjustment for the seats and steering wheel for anyone to get comfortable. If you wont fit an MX5, you probably will fit an Alfa Spider.

 

Child seats that fit a Alfa Romeo Spider (2007 – 2011)

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What's the Alfa Romeo Spider (2007 – 2011) like to drive?

The GM derived 260PS 3.2 V6 is pleasantly smooth and sonorous, if lacking the outright punch of a 350Z, or indeed of the Audi S3 I drove a month ago. Though its listed as having 322Nm torque, it doesnt feel like it has, and with the Q4 four wheel drive system is actually slower than the old Alfa Spider. But the Q4 system makes up for this. Its more rear-biased than Audi's quattro, so you can drive it less like a rally car with the same level of four-wheel drive security.

It works much better in the short wheelbase Brera and Spider than it does in the Alfa 159. Top gear gets you about 27mph per 1,000rpm, so its also a reasonable motorway cruiser. And ride comfort is good; slightly softer than the Brera coupe and on sensible 225/50 profile tyres it absorbed bumps and ruts that would rearrange your internal organs in some of its competitors. Gearshift and pedals are fine, allowing fast changes, block changes and heel and toe-ing as you wish. A faster, front-drive only V6 may come later.

The much cheaper 2.2 JTS with only 185PS feels a lot lighter at first. But you rapidly get used to it and its shorter gearing (22.5mph per 1,000rpm in 6th), and if feels properly sporty. We were pulling some fairly serious speeds for an open car with the top and windows down and, with very little understeer, up to a point the handling felt the equal of the Q4. We reached that point on a fast straight when, for whatever reason, we had a tank slapper.

Could have been driver error, getting an offside wheel over the crumbly left side of the road while overtaking, then overcorrecting the fast rack steering. Or the VDC got a bit over-enthusiastic. But the movement had been so violent we even stopped to check we hadnt burst a tyre or something. Someone else reported similar problems with the same car, so it may have been a VDC software bug. But don't worry, I'm only reporting this because it happened. It will be sorted and its highly unlikely to happen to you.

Surprisingly, in the battle of minds over money, the cars toughest competitor might not be the Audi TT. It might be the Mercedes SLK The base model SLK 200K lists at £28,500. Sure you get nothing like the same equipment level for that kind of outlay, but you do get a three pointed star on the front and an electric folding hardtop.

The Alfa Spiders performance and handling isn't up to the Nissan 350Zs. But it has a much bigger boot and much more room inside.

The car its actually closest to is the Audi TT roadster, and though the TT may be more technically advanced, and Audi TT fans will always buy Audi TTs, the basic 2.2JTS beats the TT 2.0T by being better looking as well as having more character, more room, no turbo to worry about, and a chain-cam engine.

Then theres the Honda S2000 and the Boxster 2.7.

All six of these will sell to slightly different people with slightly different requirements. But Alfa is offering a beautiful, characterful individuals car that, like a braver bloke's exotic girlfriend, will definitely get envious stares. If you're up for this kind of car you should definitely put it on your list.

 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1750 TBi 35 mpg 7.8 s 192 g/km
2.0 JTDm 52 mpg 9.0 s 142 g/km
2.2 JTS 31 mpg 8.8 s 218 g/km
2.4 JTDm 42 mpg 8.1 s 179 g/km
2.4 JTDm QTRONIC 36 mpg 8.5 s 208 g/km
3.2 JTS V6 25–26 mpg 7.0–7.2 s 262–272 g/km
3.2 JTS V6 QTRONIC 23 mpg 7.2 s 288 g/km

Real MPG average for a Alfa Romeo Spider (2007 – 2011)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

91%

Real MPG

22–40 mpg

MPGs submitted

24

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Alfa Romeo Spider (2007 – 2011)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Should I keep my Alfa Spider or sell it on?

My regularly serviced 2010 Alfa Romeo 2.2 JTS Spider Independant Italia was purchased as a one-year-old car with nearly 20,000 miles on the clock. It has now completed 93,000 miles. With new front nearside suspension and rear brake disc and pads for its recent MoT, I was informed that its first new clutch would be needed in the next year or two, at a cost of £1300. As there were only 450 made at the end of the Spider run, and as I am very attached to the looks and performance, should I keep the car or move on?
It's summer. So either sell it now or keep it to enjoy and if you want to sell it do that next spring because it will be worth buttons over the winter. I think it's important to keep this car with Alfa specialists who know the quirks rather than go for the cheapest quotes from someone like Mr Clutch. There can be a problem with the ESP over-reacting. I presume it's had a timing belt, tensioner, waterpump and aux belt. If it hasn't, you're on borrowed time.
Answered by Honest John
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