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Spyshot: New Alfa Spider shows its face

In dog years, the Alfa Romeo Spider is aged 77. But the ancient sporting arachnid’s replacement has gambolled into view, ahead of its launch in late 2006.

An all-new chassis, gorgeous styling by Italian legend Giorgetto Giugiaro and high-tech engines haul the Spider bang up to date.

Even with the cladding hiding the shield grille, there’s no disguising the new face of Alfa. The nose is nigh on identical to that of the Brera coupe which made its debut in Geneva this March and which goes on sale at the end of the year.

The butch stance, non-existent rear overhang and cutaway sections for quad tailpipes to poke through the valance are common to both.

It’s the same story underneath. Both Alfa’s sports cars are based on the new Premium platform, which underpins the forthcoming 159 saloon, too. It was co-engineered with Saab during Fiat Auto’s aborted alliance with GM, although the Swedes pulled out of the project on cost grounds.

Two petrol engines are being lined up for the Spider: a 185bhp, 2.2-litre four, and the flagship 260bhp 3.2-litre V6. The drop top is set to get diesel power for the first time, with a potent new 2.4-litre turbodiesel, yielding 200bhp, on the cards.

Lower powered Spiders are front-wheel drive. But the V6 needs four-wheel drive to put its power down, with torque biased towards the rear wheels. Six-speed manual, paddle-shift semi-auto and automatic transmissions will be available.

While the Brera coupe is a four-seater, the Spider retains its traditional two-seat layout. The powered roof is again made of fabric, with Alfa ignoring today’s folding tin top craze.

Even with the hood down, luggage space will be competitive because Alfa has been careful to package a decent sized boot.

Expect sales to kick off in late 2006 for the Audi TT roadster rival, with prices from about £26,000.

DESIGN

Look is familiar from the Brera coupe, although its 2+2 layout is junked for a classic two-seat roadster.

PLATFORM

Spider based on new Alfa Romeo Premium platform, with front and all-wheel drive and sporty suspension.

ENGINES

A 185bhp 2.2-litre four and 260bhp 3.2-litre V6 will be offered; 200bhp 2.4-litre diesel is said to be under consideration.



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