Alfa Romeo – GTV Spider – 1998
The Alfa Spider embodies the Alfa philosophy in every way. Breathtaking design coupled with a great chassis and a sporty engine.
Designed by Pininfarina, the Alfa GTV Spider is seen as one of the most beautiful cars of the 1990s. When it was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1995 it was lauded in the automotive industry for its unique and timeless design. It is a typical Italian sport car design, with the Alfa Romeo grill, the pair of headlights on each side recalling the 1750 GTV of the late 1960s and 1970s. It has a wedge shape which is in keeping with traditional Alfa Sports design with a low nose and high kicked up tail. The back of the car is “cut-off” with a “Kamm tail”, creating a sharp, aggressive look and giving improved aerodynamics. The car is very low slung and entering and exiting the car is very similar to that of a Ferrari.
Another strength of the Alfa Spider is the engine. Few cars have a world class engine. Alfa Spider was one of them. The power plant was a 150 horsepower 2-litre 16V. It was derived from the group’s Super FIRE family but added with Alfa’s own cylinder head, intake and exhaust manifolds to produce the right sound. Alfa’s trademark twin-spark mated with the latest intake variable valve timing and twin-balancer shafts resulted in a smooth and eager power delivery. On the one hand, it could spin happily to 7000 rpm. On the other hand, it delivered 90% of its maximum torque from 2500-6200 rpm. But most importantly, it sang like an Alfa engine. It was regarded as the best four-cylinder production engine in the world.
The geometry and bushings of the multi-link type rear suspension mounted to the chassis through an aluminium subframe were set such that it could generate passive rear wheel steering in corners. In the initial phase of cornering, the centrifugal force steered the rear wheels in opposite direction to the front wheels in order to sharpen the turn-in. Then, as centrifugal force continue to build up through the corners, the rear wheels steered in the same direction as the front wheels to stabilize the car.
Thanks to this advanced suspension, the GTV steered and gripped as well as the contemporary BMW 3-Series coupe, which was unquestionably an achievement for a front-drive coupe. The GTV was also praised for its quick and communicative steering.