At long last, after what seems like years of renderings, spy photos, and the on-again, off-again relationship between Alfa Romeo and the States, they’ve finally launched the 4C! Don’t call it a successor to the limited-production 8C, but rather a car that will spearhead a revival of sorts for the Italian automaker, as well its plans to grow on a global scale.
And yes, that does include Alfa returning to the States, in case you were wondering (as of this writing, which of course is subject to change).
Anyways, although the overall styling apes the 8C (think of it as it would have been as a kid), it seems to still look right, bucking the trend of other automakers (here’s looking at you, Mercedes Benz). There’s hints of the Lotus Elise throughout the design language, which will no doubt be a natural competitor to the 4C…although the Alfa is far more refined. However, the essential ingredients to make this a legitimate sports car are firmly intact…compact dimensions, lightweight materials (carbon fibre and aluminum), and most importantly…rear-wheel drive. Speaking of carbon fibre, the chassis is made up entirely of the lightweight material.
The engine showcases a beefed-up four cylinder dubbed the 1750 Turbo Petrol engine. As you might have derived from this, it follows the current trend of turbocharging the engine for maximum performance. In addition to coming with the increasingly prerequisite features such as direct fuel injection and dual continuous variable valve timing, it also comes with a revolutionary “scavenging control system” that reportedly rids the 4C of any turbo lag. An extensive test drive will determine whether or not this actually works as promised.
The 1750 Turbo Petrol (odd name) is mated to an “Alfa TCT automatic transmission”. Queue the groans from the majority of auto enthusiasts…but fear not, it’s an Alfa TCT automatic twin dry clutch transmission. Thankfully, gears can be changed as fast as you can, thanks to the flappy paddles located behind the wheel. No word yet if there will be a conventional manual transmission, but I wouldn’t start holding your breath. Perhaps what might soften the blow is the exclusive “Race” mode that’s been added for additional performance and handling at the racetrack. This is in addition to the other standard settings: Dynamic, Natural, and All-Weather. Speaking of the last one, I don’t think that you can switch that one on and go plowing through the snow.
Inside the 4C, you’ll see that carbon fibre has been extended to the highlight of it all, the central cell. Interestingly enough, it has been left uncovered, perhaps as a reminder of what this sports car is all about. The dark stuff is also featured prominently throughout the inside, along with the usual leather and other soft bits.
To further enhance its sports car persona and heritage, the 4C is being built at the Maserati production facility in Modena, and is scheduled to go on sale later this year. The projected 2,500 unit run isn’t meant to bolster Alfa’s ambitious global sales goals (300,000 a year), but rather bolster the marque’s image. Will fans in the States embrace the quirky Italian that left our shores back in 1995, leaving behind the wonderfully inept 164? Hopefully so, and this time, perhaps Alfa will get back to its roots and come out with some fun-to-drive cars that will be reliable for a change…
Photo Credit: Newspress