The Alfa Romeo 4C is a two-seater sports car that borrows design cues from the now-defunct Maserati-powered 8C. Built by Maserati in Modena, Italy, the 4C is spearheading Alfa Romeo's long-awaited return to the United States market after nearly two decades of absence.
Designed in-house, the 4C's supercar-inspired silhouette is nearly identical to the award-winning 4C Concept displayed by Alfa at several major trade shows around the world. The car is characterized by a highly-aerodynamic body with sculpted flanks, futuristic-looking headlights and round tail lamps that hark back to race-winning Alfa sports cars built in the 1950s and 1960s.
Air vents mounted next to both doors hint at the car's mid-engined configuration, and a transparent engine cover allows pedestrians to admire the direct-injected four-banger as they walk by.
Would-be buyers who haven't gotten accustomed to the 4C's bug-like headlights can order more conventional-looking units at no extra cost.
Engineers put a big focus on saving weight and the 4C is built out of a combination of aluminum, steel, carbon fiber and fiber-glass reinforced composite materials. 40 percent of the car's 2,465-pound mass lies on the front axle and 60 percent rests on the rear axle. The car's relatively low weight makes it possible for Alfa to remove the power steering system.
The 4C is powered by a turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine with a displacement of precisely 1,750 cubic centimeters, a number chosen for its historical resonance. An evolution of the mill that powers the Europe-only Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde hot hatch, the transversally-mounted four-banger is fitted with several model-specific parts including the intake manifold and the entire exhaust system.
The engine is equipped with Alfa's Scavenging technology, which modifies the fuel delivery and valve timing parameters in order to maximize low-end torque and reduce turbo lag.
The mid-mounted all-aluminum mill sends 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque to the rear wheels via a six-speed TCT dual-clutch transmission equipped with a built-in launch control function. The sprint from zero to 60 mph takes under 4.5 seconds and top speed is reached at about 155 mph.
The Spider returns 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.
Brembo brakes all around help keep the engine's power in check and slow the 4C from 60 mph to a full stop in roughly 118 feet.
The 4C comes with a thoroughly revised version of the DNA switch introduced several years ago on the MiTo hatchback. It allows the driver to choose one of four distinctly different driving modes: Dynamic, Natural, All-Weather and Race. Each setting automatically adjusts the car's throttle response, steering feedback and suspension.
The 4C offers a driver-focused cockpit with two bucket seats, an ergonomically-designed dashboard, a flat-bottomed two-spoke steering wheel and a configurable thin-film transistor (TFT) screen that replaces the traditional instrument cluster. Unpainted carbon fiber on the center console and below the doors creates a sporty ambiance and reminds the passengers the monocoque they're riding in weighs just 143 pounds without anything bolted to it.
Designed as a pure driver's car, the 4C does not offer an infotainment system or a high-resolution touch screen but it can be ordered with Bluetooth audio streaming.
Standard and Optional Equipment
The list of standard equipment includes gray brake calipers, LED tail lamps, a leather-wrapped height-adjustable steering wheel, shift paddles, sport seats, aluminum pedals, central locks, a 12-volt socket and electric mirrors.
Highlights from the options list are painted calipers, parking sensors, a body-colored spoiler, bespoke badging and stickers, LED headlights, carbon fiber headlight bezels, a race exhaust system, cruise control and heated mirrors. A/C is available as a no-cost option.
Thanks to the tie-up between Fiat and Chrysler, buyers are able to deck out their 4C with a full catalog of Mopar-designed accessories including a rear spoiler, large wheels finished in black or gray, painted calipers all around, chrome-plated mirror skins, a sporty tail pipe for the exhaust and a colored engine cover. Race tires developed by Pirelli specifically for the 4C are also available.
The 4C packs electronic stability control, airbags for the driver and the passenger, a tire pressure monitoring system and a hill hold function.
The 4C fights in the same arena as the Porsche Cayman but production is strictly limited so it is much more exclusive. For roughly the same amount of money, customers should look at the V8-powered Chevrolet Corvette Stingray or the more powerful Audi TTS.