By Robert Maddox
BRAVO Alfa! There’s a stunning new sports car in the Alfa Romeo range and the iconic Italian brand has produced a truly outstanding model in the 4C. Here is a compact coupe that’s not only exceptionally beautiful but also one with an outstanding turbocharged, mid-mounted engine which produces more power per litre than that of a Ferrari 458 Speciale.
It also boasts a lightweight chassis built from exotic carbon fibre, so, yes, is very much a scaled-down supercar. Yet, surprise, surprise, the super coupe can be yours for an outlay of
£51,500 on the road. First deliveries to UK customers began last year and now the two-seater has been joined by a £59,500 Spider version delivering the joys of topless motoring.
Together they signal the dawn of an exciting new era for the manufacturer that will see the launch the first-ever Alfa Romeo SUV plus new sports saloons to rival the 3- and 5-Series cars from BMW. Currently, the UK line-up is restricted to the 4C, plus MiTo and Giulietta hatchbacks.
Chris Variava at Nottingham Road, Basford is one of the leading Alfa Romeo dealerships in the UK. A pure driving machine, the 4C is an uncompromised thoroughbred marking the flamboyant brand’s return to the world of lightweight sports coupes. Its natural beauty makes it a worthy descendent of one of the most beautiful coupes of all time: the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale.
The car employs the latest technologies of the brand’s newest models in its new, all-aluminium 1750 turbocharged petrol engine; the latest-generation Alfa TCT dry twin clutch transmission and the Alfa DNA driving mode selector – now with a new race mode.
Carbon-fibre was chosen for the one-piece monocoque because of its high levels of structural rigidity and exceptionally low weight and the car is built using sophisticated Formula 1-derived technologies. Sheet Moulding Compound, which is lighter than both steel and aluminium, is used for the bodywork and even the thickness of the glass has been slimmed down by 15% to help reduce the overall weight. Less than 4m in length, the car’s compact shape accentuates its remarkable agility.
Double-wishbone front suspension is secured directly to the monocoque to optimise handling. At the rear, the coupe has a performance-tuned McPherson arrangement. Brakes were engineered with track use in mind. It’s four-cylinder turbo engine is 22kg lighter than the motor which powers the Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV thanks to its aluminium block.
It sets new torque and specific power records for an engine of its size at over 200Nm- and 137hp-per-litre respectively. Its maximum power output is 240hp at 6,000 rpm while its maximum torque output is 350Nm (258 lb ft), available between 2,100 and 4,000 rpm. The flexible nature of the engine is underlined with 80% of its torque available from 1800 rpm. Acceleration is stunning. The car storms from rest to 62mph in just 4.5 seconds, reaching a top speed of160mph.
But this supercar performance isn’t at the expense of the environment. The car’s light weight plus the advanced engine and transmission technologies ensure emissions of the 4C fall well within the strict limits of Euro 6. Its official combined-cycle fuel economy figure is 41.5mpg and its CO2 emissions are 157g/km. Being an Alfa Romeo, the driving experience is more than just raw statistics.
The exhaust has been tuned to emit a full, rich sound and particular attention was paid to seat design so the movement and reactions of the car can be felt as the driver exploits its sporting nature. The unassisted steering is progressive, direct and engineered to convey as much feedback and feel as possible. Inside, the exposed carbon-fibre chassis and driver-oriented controls leave no doubt as to the purposeful nature of the car.
A multi-function, digital display occupies the instrument binnacle in place of traditional dials and the steering wheel is a bespoke, flat-bottomed, two-spoke one with integrated paddle gear-shifters.
The remaining controls are grouped together on the tunnel console, including the button-operated TCT transmission selector and the DNA system selector. The DNA system alters the operational parameters of the engine, transmission, ESC and electronic Q2 differential depending on the driver’s requirements.
With composite bucket seats and aluminium pedals, too, the minimalistic, driver-focussed cabin is, indeed, a good place to be, further reinforcing that the 4C is a truly special Alfa Romeo.