The Spider or convertible has an important place in Alfa Romeo tradition (starting with the Giulietta Spider in the 1950s and going on to the Duetto and the Spider launched in the 1990s), because it has always embodied the ‘free emotive’ expression of the car.
And the new model reiterates the same theme, a natural evolution of the convertibles created by Alfa Romeo in its long history, cars that have always produced strong emotions, guaranteeing extremely entertaining driving and combining superb styling with the performance of powerful, elastic engines.
And the new Alfa Spider is no exception: it has the same ‘essentially simple’ character of a true sports car, combined with the technological superiority of the ‘new Alfa breed.
Developed by Pininfarina in conjunction with the Alfa Romeo style centre, the model turns heads for its unmistakable Italian elegance, an absolutely unique and unrepeatable style that promises the satisfaction of a sporty drive with full respect for Brand traditions. While maintaining a front end compatible with the latest generation of Alfa Romeos, the new car is nevertheless the latest stylistic development of the Alfa Romeo convertibles that have written the history of world motoring.
Take for example the car’s penetrating lines that invite the eye to run over the entire length of the clean-cut perimeter. The side is made more dynamic by the concave surface that runs across it. Brawny wheelarches express the car’s sporty vocation while maintaining its stylistic elegance and lightness. The rear is also made lighter by fins and the round plan view of the boot and bumpers.
Inside, the Alfa Spider offers a welcoming and highly sophisticated environment due to the use of top-quality materials and the adoption of opulent features. From dual-zone automatic climate control to steering-wheel-mounted radio controls, VDC and Cruise control.
Customers can choose between two JTS petrol engines (2.2 delivering 136 kW and 3.2 V6 Q4 with an output of 191 kW), combined with a sporty, mechanical, 6-speed gearbox. The new car guarantees the temperament of an Alfa and excellent dynamic performance thanks to a high double-wishbone suspension at the front and a Multilink system at the rear. The Alfa Spider combines superb comfort with a sporty trim and an evolved ‘Alfa Romeo Q4’ four-wheel drive system (on the 3.2 V6 Q4 version). And in the safety field, the new Alfa Romeo is fitted with the most sophisticated electronic devices to control the car’s dynamic behaviour: from braking to traction.
These are the winning features that allowed the new model to run off with the ‘Cabrio of the Year 2006’ prize at its first outing (at lat year’s Geneva Motor Show). This prestigious title was awarded by a Cabriolet Committee made up of 23 motoring journalists from 12 different countries. With its safety, power and attractive styling, the Alfa Spider marks step forward in the convertible field, a specific segment where Alfa Romeo has always played a leading role. The new vehicle has been designed for quality without compromise. This concept has been pursued throughout all stages of the car’s development process, from product design and including the innumerable tests that the car underwent before production. The Alfa Spider’s quality is also expressed in the choice of opulent interior materials; in the tuning of its Alfa Romeo engines to achieve top-level performance, engine note and driving comfort – and in the optimisation of the sophisticated suspension systems.
The recommended retail pricing is as follows:
Spider 3.2 V6 Q4 – R525 000
Spider 2.2 JTS – R435 000
The new convertible, derived from the drop-dead gorgeous Alfa Brera coupé, was developed by Pininfarina in conjunction with the Alfa Romeo Style Centre and Is assembled in Pininfarina’s San Giorgio Canavese plant in Turin, Italy.
A byword for sportiness, Italian flair and quality, the model is confirmed as a stylish and generously proportioned 2-seater. The Alfa Spider is 183 centimetres wide, 439 cm long and 131 cm high with a wheelbase of 253 cm, although the sharply tapered front and rear make it look more compact. Despite this, we have not had to stoop to compromise by choosing between comfort and function, as you are often forced to do with this type of car. The luggage compartment offers 253 dm3 (always available whether the hood is up or down) while there are numerous roomy oddments recesses (including the climatised one in the central console).
In detail, the new Alfa Spider offers an up-to-date appealing front end, similar to that of the coupé on which it is based, with a shield occupying pride of place in the centre, the starting point of the lines that run along the bonnet and frame the headlights, ‘suspended’ on an air inlet: a stylistic and functional device that Alfa Romeo reserves for its out-and-out sports cars, which makes the front look even wider and more imposing, because the shoulder of the wing and the front pillar are stronger and thicker.
From the side, the combination of a short wheelbase, long bonnet and compact, rear-mounted cabin enhances the car’s sporty, dynamic looks. This impression of great temperament is underlined by the elongated rear lights and four exhaust terminals. But the styling of the new Spider also includes some ‘romantic’ elements, in the best Alfa Romeo tradition, such as the fold-away, light hood, and the design of the rear shoulder muscle that is borrowed directly from the famous Giulietta Spider.
The collaboration between the Alfa Romeo style centre and Pininfarina continues inside the vehicle where a sporty look has been achieved by the general layout and one-off features such as the armrest area of the door panel or the band that wraps around the surface above the rear bench. Without mentioning that the dash features an array of controls and instruments that all face the driver. The seats, while maintaining an area with distinctive Alfa piping, have been customised by incorporating the head-restraints into the structure and by side strips that connect the 4-point seat-belts and give a personality boost to the seat.
And finally, the Alfa Romeo soft top, an irresistible design feature, is distinctive for its light appearance and the way it blends in perfectly with the rest of the car. For example, the U-shaped hood cover fits in harmoniously with the body and houses a third brake light in its base.
Last but not least, the rear roll-bar is a safety element that slots perfectly into the silhouette of the car which tracks the line of the seat to shade off into the rear volume above the rigid hood cover. And everything is embellished by the two ‘bosses’ set behind the roll-bar and enriched by some high-tech details.
The new Alfa Spider is self-avowedly an Alfa through and through in its uncompromising sense of control and driving satisfaction. Driving comfort and dynamic behaviour have always been specific features of Alfa Romeo cars: on this car, they amount to a real strength. First and foremost, the Alfa Spider is fitted with suspension systems that are the outcome of a new design that aims to achieve truly outstanding results: the front suspension is a high double-wishbone type and the rear is multilink. Hence a greater capacity to absorb road roughness; maximum linearity and precision in the steering response – and great roadholding, maximum stability in high-speed manoeuvres and the agility of a true Alfa Romeo over tight mixed routes. In detail, the products adopted and the benefits immediately perceptible to customers are as follows:
Front suspension and steering
The new high wishbone layout adopted on the front suspension is the ideal solution to guarantee precise control of wheel movement, with a clearly defined steering axis in space. The architecture was borrowed from racing and endows the car with outstanding dynamic performance, and extremely sensitive, pinpoint steering. The high double wishbone already used on the Alfa 159 and Alfa Brera offers a host of technical improvements on the new vehicle.
First of all, the steering axis was brought closer to the centre of the wheel, increasing the Ackerman level (to increase parallel wheel movement when steering) for better response when cornering, thanks to the steering which is the most direct in its category. The steering of the new Alfa Spider has an excellent ratio (12.7° steer for every degree of wheel steer) for an overall rotation of 2 1/4 turns of the steering wheel, which translates into a more direct response for the driver, more responsive steering and better stability control.
Painstaking analysis of the matching between steering geometry and wheelarch volume has also made it possible to achieve high steering angles even with the largest tyres, and this has significantly improved the turning circle between kerbs (10.7 metres).
Great attention was paid to the new wheel upright where it connects to the levers, exploiting the available space inside the rims in full, and this has significant advantages in terms of lateral rigidity; the size of the coaxial damper spring unit with dual tube shock absorber has been increased to improve its capacity to absorb road roughness; the aluminium lower wishbone combines excellent structural characteristics and a much lower weight; the upper aluminium arm fits a pair of dry friction sliding bushes, a solution chosen because it is stronger and more reliable, and guarantees a more progressive steering action. And finally, the suspension is connected to the chassis by a closed geometry frame which is stiffer than the previous version, which featured a single crossbeam.
The new Multilink rear suspension allows wheel movement to be controlled in a sophisticated manner, reaching the best possible results in terms of performance. The system with three levers and a transverse blade highlights the performance of the various components subject to longitudinal load, to improve the filtering of roughness and under a lateral load, achieving faster responses, enhanced stability and extreme grip.
The rear suspension of the Alfa Spider now features:
A higher anchorage point for the longitudinal link, which is now positioned higher than the centre of the wheel, allowing the suspension to perform a longer, more flexible stroke, with an optimal response when negotiating an obstacle.
The aluminium upright, fitted with a third generation, extremely rigid hub, supports the connection bushes for the camber lever and the longitudinal link.
The bi-tube spring-damper unit is larger than other conventional solutions; this achieves a better compromise between handling and comfort.
The camber link, which allows the static camber to be adjusted and produces a geometry capable of guaranteeing a good camber recovery with wheel shake to ensure that the wheel rests perfectly on the road and wear is thus uniform, even when the car is pushed to the limit.
The rear hydraulic bush guarantees excellent filtering of roughness, and allows the wheel to retract slightly when negotiating an obstacle.
A high yield steel crossbeam isolated from the bodyshell by four elastic bushes that dampen high frequency vibration.
The Q4 four-wheel-drive system
The new Alfa Spider with the powerful 3.2 V6 Q4 offers the same 4×4 system with three differentials. This takes the form of the ultra-new Twin Diff system that represents the latest development of the Torsen C.
The Spider’s central differential is a Torsen C that encloses the front differential for the first time, a solution that ensures considerable benefits in terms of dimensions, weights and also performance. It exploits the forces set up by the front differential to increase its locking effect (35% during traction and 45% during release) to set up a certain self-locking effect on the front differential as well (up to 20%). The consequence of this is improved traction and cornering stability.
The basic torque distribution of the Q4 system is mainly to the rear (43/57) for greater sportiness. Due to its locking effect, the central differential is able to send drive torque to the axle with the best grip on the ground moment by moment. This allows the system to switch from the initial torque distribution pattern to a distribution pattern focused on the front (72/28) or a distribution focused on the rear (22/78) in a fast, automatic and continuous manner according to the grip and slip levels of all four wheels.
The Alfa Romeo Q4 four-wheel-drive system implements permanent, dynamic torque distribution over all four wheels to achieve the highest levels of active safety. The Q4 system is four wheel drive, Alfa Romeo style: an essentially mechanical system complemented by the most advanced electronics to assure maximum driving comfort together with optimum performance and total safety.
The vehicle is absolutely cutting edge as far as engineering is concerned and offers significant benefits:
The Q4’s four wheel drive with advanced Torsen C self-locking differential (Twin Diff.) makes it possible to achieve improved roadholding, driving satisfaction and smooth responses.
Preferential distribution to the rear axle also adds to the driving satisfaction because it makes the car easier to handle while ensuring maximum stability when the car suddenly veers at top speed on the motorway, as can happen during emergency manoeuvres.
The ability to travel safely in poor grip conditions without the aid of electronics in torque split for constant driving satisfaction.
The Alfa Spider offers the most sophisticated electronic devices to control the vehicle’s dynamic performance (from braking to traction) and push its dynamic limits still further. These devices are not intrusive for the driver but greatly benefit safety. These devices have been developed operationally through simulations and meticulous track testing with the aim of ensuring maximum driving satisfaction.
The power-assisted, hydraulic system comprises two cross-over independent circuits, and is particularly effective, guaranteeing prompt, smooth braking combined with minimal stopping distances. The system naturally differs according to the engine version (in terms of weight and power): vehicles equipped with the 2.2 JTS are fitted with 305 mm self-ventilated discs on the front wheels and cast iron floating calliper with piston; the rear brake discs are solid (278 mm diameter) while the calliper is aluminium with a piston.
The powerful Alfa Spider 3.2 V6 Q4 is fitted with 330 mm ventilated discs with a four piston monobloc aluminium calliper on the front wheels; a 292 mm disc, also ventilated, with a floating calliper on the rear wheels.
This vehicle marks the first application of a monobloc aluminium calliper with radial attachments to the front brakes of an Alfa Romeo: this option increases calliper stiffness without increasing the weight and therefore makes for increased performance, particularly during a sporty drive.
In addition to a high-performing brake system, the Alfa Spider also comes with one of the most advanced ABS antilock brake systems on the market today. It features four active sensors and a hydraulic control unit with 12 solenoids. The ABS contains an electronic brakeforce distributor (EBD). This device apportions braking action over all four wheels to prevent locking and ensure full control of the car under all conditions. The system also adapts its operation to wheel grip conditions and brake pad efficiency to reduce pad overheating.
VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control)
The VDC is Alfa Romeo’s version of the ESP (Electronic Stability Program), a system that cuts in under extreme conditions when car stability is at risk and also helps the driver to control the car. As befits a true Alfa, the VDC is a sporting device that allows outstanding roadholding. It allows the driver the full satisfaction of controlling the car as long as conditions are normal but cuts in just before things become critical. The VDC is permanently engaged.
The MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung) cuts in when the gear is shifted down abruptly under conditions of low grip. This device restores torque to the engine to prevent the wheel skidding as a result of lock. To achieve this result, the VDC continually monitors tyre grip in both longitudinal and lateral directions. If the car skids, it cuts in to restore directionality and ride stability. It uses sensors to detect rotation of the car body about its vertical axis (yaw speed), car lateral acceleration and the steering wheel angle set by the driver (which indicates the chosen direction). It then goes on to compare these data with parameters generated by a computer and establishes – via a complex mathematical model – whether the car is cornering within its grip limits or if the front or rear is about to skid (understeer or oversteer).
To restore the correct trajectory, it then generates a yawing movement in the opposite direction to the movement that gave rise to the instability by braking the appropriate wheel (interior or exterior) individually and reducing engine power (via the throttle). This is the key attribute of the device designed by Alfa Romeo engineers. It acts in a modulated fashion on the brakes to ensure the action is as smooth as possible (and the drive is not therefore disturbed). The engine power reduction is contained to ensure outstanding performance and great driving satisfaction at all times.
As it carries out its complex task, the VDC stays in constant communication with the brake sensors and engine control unit but also with:
a Body computer that constantly exchanges information with the ABS, engine management unit and automatic transmission unit;
an electronic throttle (that communicates with the ABS in turn);
a control panel (active warning lights);
the steering wheel and steering column (via the steering sensor);
a gyroscopic sensor installed on the passenger compartment floor to record car yaw and lateral acceleration.
ASR (Anti Slip Regulation)
The ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) system, an integral part of the VDC, optimises traction at any speed with the aid of the brakes and engine control. The device computes degree of slip on the basis of wheel rpm calculated by the ABS sensors and activates two different control systems to restore grip: when an excessive power demand causes both drive wheels to slip (e.g. in the case of aquaplaning or when accelerating over an unsurfaced, snowy or icy road), it reduces engine torque by reducing the throttle opening angle and thus air flow; If only one wheel slips (e.g. the inside wheel following acceleration or dynamic load changes), this is automatically braked without the driver touching the brake pedal. The resulting effect is similar to that of a self-locking differential. This allows the Alfa Spider to get out of trouble easily on road surfaces with low grip.
The ASR is activated automatically whenever the engine is started but must be turned off by means of a cut-out switch on the central console. The ASR needs be turned off only when snow chains are used because the wheel must be able to slip by tiny amounts to pile up the snow so that force can be transmitted to the ground and the ASR tends to prevent this occurring.
HBA and Hill-holder
The equipment array on the Alfa Spider is completed by the HBA system, the hydraulic electronic hydraulic braking assistant which automatically increases the pressure in the braking circuit during emergency braking. And by the Hill-holder system, which maintains the braking pressure for a few moments after the driver removes his foot from the pedal, to simplify hill starts and prevent the car from slipping backwards.
Passive safety also benefits from state-of-the-art technology. And goes on to include a new chassis designed to absorb impact with maximum efficacy. Occupants are also protected by the body and doors, without forgetting the Isofix attachments for carrying the tiniest occupants with maximum safety. The car also offers innovative restraint systems (pretensioner on the buckle and a degressive load limiter on the seat-belt) and airbags: front with two-stage activation, sidebags and a new driver’s kneebag to prevent contact with the dashboard surface and help achieve the highest safety levels.
In detail, the two front airbags have two-stage activation: for the driver (with capacity of 60 litres) and passenger (120 litres). Their operation is controlled by an electronic control unit on the tunnel that evaluates impact severity by means of sensors that are calibrated by conducting crash tests in the laboratory. The system comes with a diagnostic circuit for checking components electronically. The components are tested by a processor that monitors their operation continuously. The airbags will not be activated by low speed accidents (for example, a slight shunt or a bump while parking) or by stresses that are not due to impact (e.g. driving fast over a pothole). The front passenger airbag may be deactivated manually so that a baby can be carried in a seat with its back to the direction of motion (the pretensioner remains active).
The Alfa Spider is fitted with two sidebags to protect the pelvis and chest of occupants when the car is struck from the side. They are located inside the front seat squabs. This solution ensures the best possible protection for passengers regardless of their stature, sitting position or seat setting. For geometrical reasons, it is also possible to use a 12 litre airbag: this volume is lower than an airbag housed in the door would require to offer the same protection. If an accident occurs, the sensors controlling activation of these airbags receive a side acceleration signal which is sent to the electronic control unit that is also responsible for operating the front airbags and seat-belt pretensioners. All systems are managed in an integral manner in accordance with a strategy of total, progressive occupant safety.
The Alfa Spider surrounds the driver and passenger with technologies that ensure the very highest acoustic and climatic comfort. The result is an enveloping environment, free from vibration thanks to the careful soundproofing and the outstanding torsional and flexural rigidity of the bodyshell. And more: The Alfa Spider offers bi-zone automatic climate control system with differentiated temperature and air distribution; a state-of-the-art sound system; a rain sensor, which automatically activates the windscreen wipers at the first drops of rain; the dusk sensor which turns the headlights on when the car enters a tunnel; and the standard parking sensor that conveys acoustic and graphic information about the distance between the car and any obstacle. And again, the customer can appreciate the attention to detail, the use of sophisticated, top quality materials (from Frau leather to aluminium parts) and the wide choice of shades for dashboard, seats, hood and external bodywork. In a word, the new car sees off all its rivals when it comes to comfort.
Interior climate is one of the main comfort factors during a trip and is also very important for interior safety because temperature, humidity and ventilation affect the driver’s well-being and thus his or her level of alertness. And of course the heating and ventilation system is also responsible for demisting the windscreen and side windows.
The dual zone device is equipped with a control system that automatically controls temperature, air flow, air distribution, compressor activation and recirculation by means of an electronic control unit. The Alfa Spider also implements an equivalent temperature climate control strategy. It records internal and external temperature by means of certain sensors and assesses the sensation of thermal well-being experienced by passengers, i.e. the energy exchange between human body and passenger compartment that is affected by humidity, temperature and treated air flow. Another sensor located in a central position at the windscreen base records solar radiation on the car and the angle at which the rays strike the passenger compartment. This allows the system to prevent an excessive increase in temperature inside the car caused by the sun and thus to inform the climate control system in time. The automatic dual zone climate system can provide two different temperatures and air flows simultaneously: one in the right part of the passenger compartment and the other in the left.
The Alfa Brera also offers a sensor that verifies air quality in addition to the dual zone climate control system: the Air Quality System (AQS). This system allows occupants of the Alfa Spider to breathe clean air at all times, even when driving through town or in traffic jams and tunnels. The sensor controls the recirculation function that is turned on automatically to block the intake of outside air into the car when driving through places with high smog levels.
The fully concealed Alfa Spider hood is equipped with a hydraulic system for automated movement. The hood comes with improved looks, streamlining and acoustic comfort. Its practical details have also been improved with mechanisms specially designed to make folding and unfolding operations easier, faster and safer.
In detail, the first of its five steel and aluminium arches is shaped to mould to the upper edge of the windscreen thus continuing the exterior shape seamlessly and making the car more aerodynamic with its hood closed. The hood consists of two skins: the outer skin is a multiplayer cloth with good flame propagation resistance while the inner skin effectively soundproofs the passenger compartment. Special features have also been designed and applied to prevent wind noise during driving with the hood closed, even at high speed. Examples include the special shape of the window retaining channels.
Aboard convertibles driving comfort must be guaranteed both with the hood closed and with the hood open: hence the continuous quest for various individual performance aspects, such as body stiffness, individual frequencies, weight optimisation, aerodynamics, suspension settings and many other features that may be less well known to the general public but all add up to create a top quality product that can be used to best effect in both configurations.
The hood action is also electric and the fold/unfold operations take place automatically. To set the hood in motion, all you have to do is press a button after parking the car and applying the handbrake (this single manual operation has been maintained for safety reasons, since accidental system operation is prevented in this way). In detail, electric hood opening is performed by a specific hydraulic circuit co-ordinated by a special electronic control unit.
Lastly, the car may also be equipped with a transparent wind stop or deflector (optional) that limits air turbulence in the passenger compartment with the hood open to make it possible to enjoy an equally comfortable trip even at high speed.
Outstanding automotive engineering
The new Alfa model is equipped with two JTS direct injection petrol engines with Twin Phaser technology: a … 3.2 V6 Q4 unit and a … 2.2 JTS unit. Both power units represent Alfa Romeo’s interpretation of the direct injection petrol engine, which means driving satisfaction and high performance for the customer. Both engines adopt the direct injection JTS (Jet Thrust Stoichiometric) combustion system. Both engines deliver the quality one expects from Alfa Romeo, having been fine tuned on the Balocco test track, while final assembly takes place in the Alfa Romeo plant in Pomigliano The JTS engines naturally meet Euro 4 limits.
Both engines are combined with six speed manual gearboxes with short spacing, crisp shifts and low loads.
The new 3.2 V6 Q4 engine
The Alfa Romeo ‘cuore sportivo’ really beats in the new V6 3.2 litre JTS petrol engine, which delivers 191kW. It represents a significant departure from Alfa’s previous V6 engine, as well as its natural successor. The new JTS engine is capable of a power delivery of 191 kW (8% more than the previous 3.2 V6 Q4); peak torque of 322 Nm at 4500 rpm (+ 33 Nm, an increase of more than 11%); a specific power of 60 kW/l and specific torque of 100 Nm/l; a significant increase in torque at low speeds to improve the smooth delivery (approximately 30 Nm more than the previous 3.2 V6 engine, starting from 1,500 rpm); maximum revs of 6,200 rpm; minimal maintenance (hydraulic tappets and timing gear with chain drive); low weight (aluminium cylinder head and crankcase); and Euro4 exhaust emissions limits. With this equipment, the Alfa Spider can reach a top speed of 235 km/h and accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 7 seconds.
Main technical features
The new 6-cylinder engine fitted to the Alfa Spider continues the strategy begun with the 4-cylinder engines, and adopts the JTS (Jet Thrust Stoichiometric) direct injection system. This is an original Alfa Romeo concept that injects the fuel directly into the combustion chamber with a stoichiometric mixture optimised to enhance performance, but also guarantees low consumption and respect for Euro4 emissions limits.
Numerous important components have been designed from scratch and are exclusive to the Alfa Romeo V6 engine. To start with, the cylinder head is aluminium and has 4 valves per cylinder, 2 camshafts per bank with the ‘Twin Phaser’ (continuous variable valve timing, intake and exhaust) already adopted on Alfa Romeo 4-cylinder engines and now applied on a 6-cylinder engine for the first time. Variable valve timing allows the phase angle on both cams to be varied by 50°, maximising performance on one hand, because the best phase can be chosen at all engine speeds, and reducing consumption and emissions with partial loads on the other.
At the same time it is possible to optimise the volumetric efficiency of the engine over the whole operating range, exploiting the degrees of freedom offered by variable valve timing: this means a very favourable torque curve, with 90% of peak torque available from 1,800 rpm (290 Nm) and maintained over a broad range (from 1,800 rpm to 6,250 rpm). The valves are controlled by a roller finger system, with low mechanical dissipation, and hydraulic uptake of tappet play.
Another peculiar feature is the camshaft drive system which uses a primary chain that transmits the drive to the heads via two secondary chains. Tension is provided by automatic hydraulic tensioners, which need no maintenance at all during the life of the engine. The high pressure fuel pump of the direct injection system is mounted on the cylinder head, driven by a camshaft, maintaining the pressure of the injected fuel at 120 bar by a built-in pressure regulator.
The inlet ports and combustion chamber assembly is designed to optimise the air-fuel mixture, to achieve the correct turbulence of the inlet air, forming a homogeneous mixture, for stable, complete combustion that produces fewer pollutants. The four valves per cylinder with diameters of 33.4 mm on the inlet and 28.4 mm on the exhaust guarantee suitable permeability to enhance engine performance.
The volumes and port geometry of the aluminium inlet casing have also been adapted to the high air delivery of the high revs to enhance performance. The electronic throttle body with a 72 mm throttle valve is mounted on this casing. And lastly, the compression ratio of 11.25:1 guarantees excellent engine performance even with regular 95 octane fuel.
Briefly, the main technical features that distinguish the new 3.2 V6 Q4 engine from the previous V6 engine are:
twin overhead camshaft with low friction drive;
direct petrol injection;
double continuous variable valve timing on the inlet and exhaust;
cylinder head in light aluminium alloy;
hydraulic tappets with automatic play uptake;
engine block in light aluminium alloy;
maintenance-free timing gear drive chain;
Poly V automatic tensioned belt to drive the engine accessories;
throttle valve with electronic drive-by-wire activation;
single ignition coils;
low specific fuel consumption and emissions
4 lambda sensors to control emissions;
dual knock sensor to improve knock sensitivity and to optimise peak performance;
high performance exhaust manifold with built-in pre-catalysts;
Euro 4 emissions.
The 3.2 V6 Q4 engine features an exhaust system that includes a first group of catalysing elements relatively close to the cylinder heads to reduce the emissions level at the start of operation. Two catalysts under the floorpan and four lambda sensors complete the system, so that the engine respects Euro 4 limits without adopting special systems such as secondary air or electric heating.
Another feature of the 3.2 V6 Q4 engine is the direct injection system (the fuel is supplied directly to the combustion chamber) whose main advantage is that it improves evaporation and this increases the engine’s volumetric efficiency. As a result, the supply of air and petrol is both denser and colder, which allows the compression ratio to be increased to 11.25, even if Euro Super petrol is used, with an octane index of 95 RON: a high compression ratio is useful because it makes it possible to increase both the performance and the energy efficiency of the engine.
Lastly, ignition is provided by a single sparkplug per cylinder. Direct injection combined with 4-valve-per-cylinder geometry creates a mix that tends to be more concentrated at the centre of the combustion chamber. The ignition system features a single ignition coil per cylinder.
The 4-cylinder engines fitted to the Alfa Spider are extremely light because they have aluminium cylinder heads and crankcases (they are approximately 20% lighter than the engines they replace). The timing gear control is also particularly advanced, featuring a system of rocker arms and rollers, which significantly reduces dispersion due to friction in the cylinder head, and the ‘Twin Phaser’ continuous variable valve timing system on the intake and exhaust valves, which optimises power output, torque and fuel consumption.
In detail, the 2.2 JTS delivers 136 kW and peak torque of 230 Nm at 4,500 rpm, taking the car to a top speed of 217 km/h and accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.8 seconds
Main technical features
To start with, the Twin Phaser system adopts new cam lobes which allow the phase angle to be varied by 50° on both axes. This makes it possible to improve performance on the one hand because the best phase can be chosen at all engine speeds, and to reduce consumption and emissions with partial loads, by the Miller cycle. This combustion system, which is based on the postponed opening and closing of the inlet and exhaust valves – extends the expansive phase (converting more heat into energy), guarantees internal EGR (by preventing the release of the last exhaust gases, full of unburned particles) and postpones the closure of the inlet valve (reducing pumping losses).
Another peculiar feature of the 2.2 JTS engines that equip the Alfa Spider is the chain-driven camshaft system: unlike a conventional belt drive, this system has the advantage of not needing to be replaced during the lifespan of the engine.
And to guarantee the performance one expects of an Alfa Romeo, the timing curve has also been reviewed, adopting larger profiles which made it possible to achieve a maximum power output of 6500 rpm (the system is fine tuned to operate at over 7,000 rpm, the maximum rev speed allowed by the electronic speed limiter).
And more. To achieve the best volumetric efficiency, the maximum lift reaches 10.3 mm, while to enhance vibrational and acoustic comfort, the engine is equipped with two counter-rotating balancer shafts which virtually eliminate the second degree alternate forces that are typical of straight-4 engines. The generous power delivery of the engine made it necessary to adopt sodium-cooled exhaust valves.
The combustion chamber is shaped like a roof with four valves per cylinder: with a bore of 86 mm, the large inlet valves measure 35.3 mm and the exhaust valves 30.3 mm, guaranteeing excellent permeability to enhance engine performance. And, in spite of the stroke of 94.6 mm, in order to limit the overall height of the engine, the engineers have modified the piston height, achieving a compression value of just 28 mm, which is excellent in view of the high power delivery.
Pricing & Servicing
Alfa Romeo Spider 3.2 V6 Q4 – R525 000 (recommended retail price)
Alfa Romeo Spider 2.2 JTS – R435 000 (recommended retail price)
The new Spiders enjoy the full after-sales backing in South Africa thanks to a comprehensive parts inventory and to trained technicians at Alfa Romeo dealerships countrywide. The good news is that the newcomer is covered by a 5 year/100 000 km maintenance plan. The new models are also covered by the AA Fleet care roadside assistance for 12 months. The service is active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is available by calling the dedicated toll-free number 0800 223 727.
Services are required at 30 000 km intervals.