Alfa Romeo have been out of the mainstream sports car market for a little while, focusing on their hot hatch formats. At the launch of their new sports car, the Alfa 4C, they had many banners quoting phrases such as “Just Drive” and “Pure Alfa Romeo” reminding us of their pedigree for producing cars for drivers.
With the 4C it feels like Alfa want to bring back some of the elements that have made their cars so special in the past. They were historically always of stunning design, light, simple and took advantage of the latest materials, such as aluminium and now in the 4C carbon fibre.
The 4C, priced at c.£45,000, fills a clear gap in the 2 seater coupe market between the Lotus Elise and the Porsche Cayman. It’s a very light car weighing only 895kg dry and with fluids this takes it up to 925kg. The engine is an aluminium turbocharged version of the Giulietta’s 4 cylinder 1742cc with an output of 237 bhp at 6,000 rpm.
The combination of the strong lightweight carbon fibre chassis, the turbocharged engine and a better power to weight ratio than a Porsche Cayman S means this car feels very fast. The 4C has an impressive 0 – 62mph time of 4.5 seconds. A sports exhaust gives it a special sound similar to a little rally car.
Transmission is a dual clutch six speed developed by Alfa Romeo themselves and provides shockingly quick shifts. There are four driving modes on offer, through the Alfa DNA switch, which are dynamic, natural, all weather and race. In race the gearshift becomes really impressive taking the car to it’s top speed of 160mph with ease.
Alfa Romeo have thought about the driving experience throughout the design of the 4C and by selecting a mid engined layout they have ensured the balance and mechanical grip of the car is just right. When it comes to stopping the brakes and traction are superb.
A brave element of this sports car was Alfa Romeo’s decision to go with unassisted steering when so many other sports car manufactures have decided to go down the electric power steering route. It shows Alfa’s commitment to the driving experience by removing any potential sterile elements and allowing the feeling of feedback from the road.
Inside the 4C is all about weight saving. The exposed carbon fibre makes it look special in the vein of the supercar world and the high tech instrument display is very similar to the Lamborghini TXT screen.
Alfa plans to build 3,500 4C’s a year at a factory in Naples and as such an exciting package I can easily see them selling those very quickly. The new vision of the great Italian marque of Alfa Romeo can only mean greater competition in the sports car market and for us that means more cars offering that pure driving experience.
Visit Alfa Romeo at TH White, Fiat Group Brand Centre, Forest Park Road, Mead Way, Swindon, SN5 5QJ (thwhitefiatprofessional.co.uk)