Next Alfa Romeo Spider goes electric

Published: 14 March 2022

► New Alfa Romeo Spider in the works
► ‘A daring design’ promised by bosses
► Benchmark sports car flips to EV

Alfa Romeo is planning to crown a revitalised range with a new Spider sports car – ending a decade-long interregnum with no mainstream roadster in the range. Turin will reboot the beloved Duetto Spider as an electric convertible fit for these straitened times.

The Stellantis group has ‘locked and funded’ a new model programme, in a bid to transform Alfa Romeo from everyone’s theoretical dream car into a fast-growing stable of irresistible premium products. The design team is flat out on six projects, and engineers are striving to embed Alfa’s high-performance, driver-centric ethos in the group’s platforms.    

A highlight of the new range will undoubtedly be the new Spider, designed to challenge the upcoming electric Porsche 718 successor. It’s more than a decade since the last open-topped Alfa Romeo Spider ceased production, and that front-wheel-drive lump was a pale shadow of the ’60s original, made famous by Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate.

New Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider: the comeback

‘At some point we will have to do a Spider, and a coupe,’ says Alfa Romeo head of design Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos. ‘This is an attainable dream, though [first] we have a lot of things to do. The Spider fits Alfa Romeo’s image. It’s visceral and you get the Italian joy of life. Who doesn’t dream about going with a Duetto along the Lago di Garda? The freedom, the sun – it’s a dream that we try to inspire.’

The new electric Alfa Romeo Spider

While the original mounted four-cylinder engines in the nose, the new-generation Spider (above) will be a pure electric car, allowing a whole new set of proportions and packaging.

The last Alfa Romeo Spider: the CAR magazine review

Why the new Alfa Spider is going electric

The new convertible, depicted in our artist’s impressions by Andrei Avarvarii, is likely be spun off the STLA (pronounced Stella) Medium platform, due to come on stream in 2023. That offers up to 104kWh of battery capacity, and electric motors punching out up to 241bhp. But how many e-motors would the Spider deploy, and where would they be mounted?

The original Duetto (below) was rear-wheel drive, and the backbone of Alfa’s 2016 relaunch was the Giulia and base Stelvio’s rear-wheel-drive Giorgio architecture, because then Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne insisted it was the only layout that could match BMW. Will New Alfa’s flagship cars be rear-drive?

The original Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider

‘The question of rear-drive or all-wheel drive is on the table at the moment,’ Alfa CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato tells CAR in an exclusive interview. ‘Why not rear-wheel drive – if I have the performance! Obviously I love rear-wheel drive, but if I lose Alfa power or torque because I’m only rear-wheel drive then I prefer to be all-wheel drive.’

The STLA platforms are modular, so the electric drive modules can be mounted at the front or rear, or combined for all-wheel drive. Expect the base Spider to have rear-wheel drive – assuming STLA Medium is sufficiently lightweight to ensure it’s not underpowered – with performance versions powering both axles and gunning for 500bhp.

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2+2 packaging – and drop-dead gorgeous looks

Given the space-efficiency of electric platforms, the new Spider is likely to have room for at least two occasional rear seats. But head of design Mesonero-Romanos will insist on strong proportions, including a long bonnet emulating history’s great combustion-engined GTs. The wheelbase will be stretched, overhangs pared back and the wheels big, but with an aerodynamic design to reduce drag. Expect a pronounced rear spoiler and diffuser to similarly finesse aerodynamics and boost range. 

And the look? ‘Don’t expect retro cars. Our cars are going to be full Alfa Romeo, they’re going to be daring,’ he grins. His approach will be to try to capture the Duetto’s spirit, using minimal styling lines and trying to make a battery-powered car look light and nimble. Nonetheless occupants may sit a little higher because the powerpack will be mounted under the floor. 

Alfa Romeo head of design Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos (right) and CAR's Phil McNamara

The Spider may be a new-wave convertible but one thing’s for sure: Alfa’s iconic Scudetto grille will be present. ‘We need it! One of the myths is that electric cars don’t need air intakes: we need to get the air through to cool the batteries,’ says Mesonero-Romanos (above).

But first there’s a business case to make. And given the industry has axed many convertibles and coupes as sales have plummeted, it won’t be easy. ‘Today, there’s not a single electric cabrio: it is hard,’ admits the head of design. ‘But we need to make people fall in love with cars again.’ 

And the Spaniard believes that as electrification eliminates tail-pipe emissions, public opinion might again favour cars that some currently consider unforgivably indulgent.

More spyshots of future Alfa Romeos

By Phil McNamara

Group editor-in-chief of CAR magazine