Used Alfa Romeo Spider 1996 - 2004 review

Category: Sports car

The Alfa Romeo Spider looks fantastic, but it's expensice to run and far from great to drive.

Alfa Romeo Spider (96 - 04)
  • Alfa Romeo Spider (96 - 04)
  • Alfa Romeo Spider (96 - 04)
Used Alfa Romeo Spider 1996 - 2004 review
Star rating

What's the used Alfa Romeo Spider sports like?

The Alfa Romeo Spider is a soft-top sports car that looks and sounds great. Older cars in good condition can now be bargain buys. The owners' club can offer advice and recommend specialist garages, but Spiders are quite rare, so you'll have to scout about to find one.

The quick steering and raspy engines are tempting, but Spiders ride harshly and worn parts can make them feel vague and unpleasant to drive. The body shimmies and shakes more than that of the GTV coupe on which it's based.


The Alfa Romeo Spider looks fantastic, but it's expensice to run and far from great to drive.

  • Stylish looks
  • Affordable prices
  • Sweet engines
  • It shakes, rattles and rolls
  • Not very reliable
  • There are rust problems

The interior looks cheap, and although Alfa Romeo improved it in 2003, rattles are still to be expected. In addition, the seats get shabby unless you buy a Lusso model, which has a leather interior.

It's only a two-seater but, even so, space is far from generous inside and the boot is small.

Ownership cost

What used Alfa Romeo Spider sports will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Alfa Romeo Spider sports?

Older Alfa Romeo Spiders are cheap to buy, but will need major work to keep them going. They will also probably be rusty. Buying the newest and the best you can find will pay in the long term, but even on these check the history and the car match up. The hood must be in good shape, too, because it costs a fortune to replace.

No Spiders will be cheap to insure, although the 2.0-litre models fall into a lower insurance group than the 3.0-litres. Annual servicing is expensive, and it's also wise to change the engine's cambelt every three years or 36,000 miles. Spares are reasonably priced, and using one of the many non-franchised specialist garages will save on main-dealer prices.

Official fuel economy figures promise up to 30mpg for the 2.0-litre and 24mpg for the 3.0-litre, but don't expect to hit these figures in everyday driving.

Our recommendations

Which used Alfa Romeo Spider sports should I buy?

As far as engines go, you can choose between a four-cylinder 150bhp 2.0 and a 3.0 V6 that delivers 218bhp. The smaller engine is more common and will serve you best.

The 3.0 sounds great and is very quick, but has more power than its chassis can handle. The 2.0 is more of a match for the car, and since it is the same engine you'll find in the 156 and many other Alfas, getting spare parts should be no problem.

There are just two trims, Turismo and Lusso. All have twin front airbags, anti-lock brakes, air-con and alloy wheels, and all have manual gearboxes. Lusso models are worth buying for their leather seats.

Plenty of owners imported Spiders from 1999-2002, when they were far cheaper abroad than UK dealer-supplied cars. Make sure any import is as well equipped as a UK model. If it isn't, it will be hard to resell later at its full value.

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