Over the years, predictions of Alfa Romeo’s immanent return to the US have been many. But actual cars for driving have been few. Well, that all changes now with this car, the Alfa Romeo 4C. And it’s fitting that the brand chose this back-to-basics fun-machine to re-launch a dealer network here in the states. After all, this car is all about the driving.
Yes, the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is not a car for everyone. But, if you’re the type that enjoys the straightforward, back-to-basics thrill ride of a sports car; then consider yourself lucky… your new ride just arrived.
Making things as light as possible is always a great sports car strategy, and this mid-engine monocoquester weighs in at only 2,465-pounds. Yes, that’s not as light as the European model, but trust us you won’t notice the additional 100-pounds or so added to meet U.S. crash standards.
Unfortunately, that minimalism takes its toll on the interior. There’s very little storage space or comfort to be found; and crawling in is not graceful for anyone on the high side of 6-feet or on the wrong side of 50. Foot well area is actually plentiful though, except for some slight intrusion on the left side; and the seats have a decent amount of travel. It’s the passenger that actually gets squeezed a bit more.
Seats feel like leather covered racing buckets with some extreme bolstering, and there’s just enough padding in them to drain the fuel tank.
Burning up that fuel is a fun-size 1.7-liter I4 engine. Don’t let the small volume fool you. This little turbo cranks up 237-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque with almost 22 psi of boost. Do you remember when 100-horsepower per liter was a big deal? It looks like those days are long gone.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 24-City, 34-Highway, and 28-Combined…which keeps the Energy Impact Score fairly good at 11.8-barrels of yearly oil use with CO2 emissions of 5.2-tons.
All 4Cs have a paddle shifted twin-clutch automatic transmission for gearing duties. In typical exotic car fashion, it’s not super smooth when tooling in auto mode and it seems in a hurry to get you into higher gears if you let it. But, get more aggressive and drive the car like it was meant to be driven and it responds beautifully.
Equally satisfying is the handling experience with is just pure joy, the way only mid-engine cars with close to 50/50 weight distribution can be. In a break from just about every car on the road, steering is fully manual with no power assist. While that will certainly have its detractors, if you’re buying this car to actually drive it, you won’t mind it at all.
That certainly brings nostalgia to mind, but that’s just the beginning. There’s an upright 60’s driving position that has you looking directly down on the road. The engine is located right behind your head, with a new kind of direct injection; one that injects performance feel directly into your head. But as cool as it sounds, it can also get a little old after prolonged exposure.
There’s a good, thick, flat bottom wheel for the hands; and there’s a real sensation of the road rushing up at you, even when cruising around town. You don’t have to be travelling at arrest worthy speeds to get a full sensory overload rush from this car.
Tires feel every groove in the pavement, and since there’s a direct link to your hands, so do you. You also get a sense that this car will bite you if you’re not judicious with throttle application. You really have to go back to 60s or 70s exotics to get a comparable driving experience.
Acceleration is much more in the modern era. There’s plenty of grip for launching; and a quick trip to 60 is possible in just over 4.0-seconds. Shifts occur in a nanosecond and hit hard, accompanied by a sound symphony of mechanical chaos directly behind you. ¼-mile times are in the 13.0-second range at 106 miles-per-hour. The brakes are full-on “beast mode”; laser straight, nice stiff pedal, and stops of just 99-feet from 60.
Equally adept at bringing a halt to things are the 4C’s beautiful, pure Italian lines. It looks like a baby Ferrari especially in this vibrant red. Spectacular from just about every angle, with the same basic mid-engine proportion layout that worked so well for the prancing horse for decades.
The 4C Launch Edition is all that’s available for the time being, and it’ll cost you $69,695; but once they’re gone a base 4C will start at $55,195.
That makes the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C a small-scale exotic for a fraction of the price; truly a unique experience. It’s not a race car, and it’s not a poseur mobile. It’s a car designed with one thing in mind, driving!
Engine: 1.7 liter
Torque: 258 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 4.3 seconds
1/4 mile: 13.0 seconds @ 106 mph
EPA: 24 mpg city/ 34 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 11.8 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.2 tons/yr