Some cars are more than simply machines whose primary purpose is provide transportation. Some vehicles are truly an art form and Italian vehicles in particular display cutting edge design and an elevated sense of artistic fashion held in high regard – the likes of Gucci, Armani and Prada. In fact, one might even liken the Alfa Romeo 4C to Cinderella’s glass slipper – very special and in limited production, and not everyone will fit comfortably, but those who do may consider themselves most fortunate, with or without a Prince.
The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Sports Coupe marks the return of the iconic and revered marque following a nearly 20 year hiatus, and it represents the purest form of the brand’s DNA. The Alfa 4C revisits Alfa Romeo’s traditions in state-of-the-art form, sharing similar lines and philosophy as the 33 Stradale. Alfa 4C designers executed the styling to showcase technical characteristics and attributes from a dynamic and aerodynamic viewpoint, with all aspects focused upon an ultimate goal of maximum performance.
To point out that the 4c is sleek and indeed sexy, would constitute understated references. The mid-engine coupe’s proportions showcase essential elements that blend harmoniously, directly contributing to its lightweight, precise function and elevated performance attributes. The low density, Italian styled composite body provides the sheathing for the carbon fiber monocoque, aluminum engine frame and high output 1750cc turbocharged centrally mounted engine, which is visible through the rear hatch’s glass window, just ahead of the luggage compartment or trunk.
Designed by the Alfa Romeo Style Centre, the dramatic visual impact of the Alfa Romeo 4C begins forward with Alfa’s signature inverted triangle or shield-shaped mesh grille flanked by large air inlets that follow the lower body contour. A “V” character line is sculpted around the grille, through the hood to the base of the “A” pillar, past the pronounced front fenders, which house the jewel-like headlamp assemblies that possess an arachnid-like quality at night The sweeping shoulder line slides up over the raised rear fender curve, wrapping continuously around into the integrated rear spoiler. The top arcs gently rearward to the rear hatch, and in profile, the functional side scoops culminate from a definitive upward sweeping line through the door. Wheel wells fit tightly around the wheels and tires accentuating the 4C’s low stance. Finishing off the voluptuous overall form, round LED illuminated light clusters blend into the car’s muscular rear haunches and sculpted rear fascia. Split dual exhaust outlets fit into the blacked out rear diffuser. The iconic round Alfa Romeo badge is featured prominently in both the grille and rear hatch lip.
The all-new Alfa Romeo 4C’s compact dimensions are truly unique, adding to its lightweight and agile handling properties. It is only 157.5 inches long, 73.5 inches wide, with an extremely low 46.6 inches in overall height. The Alfa Romeo design team, in working in conjunction with the vehicle’s engineering team, created a coupe that achieves maximum aerodynamic efficiency levels – with a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.335, and like the race cars that inspired its creation and development, the Alfa Romeo 4C’s design contributes to increased stability at higher speeds.
The interior showcases an exposed carbon fiber monocoque that surrounds the cabin, highlighting the exotic coupe’s lightweight and purposeful technological uniqueness, with an elemental aura set off by the driver oriented cockpit featuring a flat bottom steering wheel, 7-inch TFT instrument cluster along with reinforced-composite sport seats. The Alfa 4C is first and foremost, a driver’s car, or more specifically, a serious, exotic, high-performance sports coupe with supercar proportions and credentials. The dashboard and door panels feature an “asphalt” treatment that stylists selected to convey a maximum driving sensation from the road. The dashboard is a thermoformed shell, similar to those found in ultra-exotic supercars and is available fully wrapped in premium leather. The clean flat-bottom performance steering wheel comes with paddle-shift controls. Driver-oriented center stack controls, along with aluminum pedals and footboards, display Alfa Romeo 4C’s track-oriented spirit and attention to detail.
Two sport seats feature a carbon fiber and fiberglass reinforced-composite structure that delivers both strength and weight savings. Available in cloth, leather, and leather with microfiber, the Alfa Romeo 4C’s seats provide the posture and bolstering needed for performance driving, while delivering the comfort needed for everyday use. Ergonomics are extremely important during high-performance driving, and the all-new Alfa Romeo 4C positions the steering wheel, instrument cluster and vehicle controls focused on the driver. The 4C is designed to maximize interior space and comfort.
An array of factory-installed selections allow Alfa Romeo 4C customers the opportunity to make their highly crafted and limited-production supercar even more unique. Some of the design selections include: six exterior colors, including: Rosso Alfa, Black, White, Basalt Gray metallic, Rosso Competizione Tri-coat and Madreperla White Tri-coat; four lightweight wheel designs: two staggered-fitting 17-inch and 18-inch alloy wheel offerings; two staggered-fitting 18-inch and 19-inch forged wheel offerings; four lacquered brake color choices, including Gray, Red, Yellow and Black; four sport seat material choices, including: Black cloth with red accent stitching; Black leather with red accent stitching; Red leather with red accent stitching; and Black leather with black microfiber seat centers and red accent stitching.
The all-new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C combines the best technical and manufacturing capabilities of two brands: Alfa Romeo and Maserati. Built at Maserati’s Modena, Italy workshop, the Alfa Romeo 4C takes advantage of more than 70 years of tradition, technology, know-how and passion, relying on Master craftsmanship, and high levels of technical competence. Thanks to the internal synergies of Fiat and Chrysler Group, the two carmakers were able to collaborate from the perspective of integrating the Alfa Romeo brand’s design and Maserati’s manufacturing functions.
At the heart of the Alfa Romeo 4C is the transversely- mid- mounted, 1750cc, DOHC, 16-valve, turbocharged, Direct Injection inline 4-cylinder engine, liquid-cooled with dual variable-valve timing, intercooler and wet sump. The engine makes 237 horsepower at 6,000 rpm while generating 258 pound feet of torque in a range from 2,200- 4,250 rpm. Motive energy is geared to the rear wheels through a six-speed Alfa TCT twin-clutch transmission with sequential paddle-shift gear selection and automatic mode. Alfa’s DNA selector enables the driver to optimize the Alfa Romeo 4C to the level of driving performance and capability desired through four powertrain and chassis control calibration modes: Dynamic, Natural, All-weather and Race, which includes a launch control function. The Alfa 4C is capable of moving from 0-60 mph in the mid-4-second range, and of achieving a top speed of 160 mph.
Suspension componentry consists of a “superimposed” double wishbone configuration up front for direct and unfiltered feedback, while at the rear, an advanced MacPherson suspension ensures optimum road-holding attributes. Both front and rear suspensions are made from aluminum and high-strength steel. The 4C is designed with stiffer springs, larger front- and rear-sway bars, and re-tuned shock absorbers for the North American market.
In keeping with enthusiast desires, the steering is manual with no power assist
to ensure maximum agility and road feel. The ratio is a quick 15.7:1. Bringing the Alfa 4C to a halt with up to 1.25 g of braking deceleration, The 4C is equipped with four self-ventilating perforated discs and Brembo four-piston aluminum calipers at the front axle. To ensure maximum grip, and to keep 4C planted firmly to the road, are staggered diameter and width performance wheels and tires. Both the standard 17-inch front and 18-inch rear, or the optional forged 18-inch front and 19-inch wheel and tire combinations feature a larger rear wheel for crisp handling.
I was afforded the opportunity to experience seat and wheel time in the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C both as a driver and passenger during the national Press launch. Driving scenarios included: downtown San Francisco; twisting coastal roads; and the challenging Sonoma Raceway. My first 4C test car wore an exterior finished in Rosso Alfa (a bright Red), with a Red interior. With option packages and destination charge, the total price registered $64,845. The next 4C was sprayed Rosso Competizione (a Deep metallic Red) and featured a Black interior. Both cars had a base sticker of $53,900 but my second test vehicle came to $67,445 with more options. Want to spend more? The first 500 special launch edition Alfa Romeo 4Cs will be serialized and will cost $69,695.
SUMMARY: The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C sports coupe is certainly not a car for everybody, but it is sure to delight “dyed-in-the-wool” purists who want to go fast in comfort and in control. Despite its diminutive size, its styling is a combination of futuristic, sensuous and dramatically unique. It is truly a work of art. A Ferrari California driver even gave my co-driver and I a thumbs up approval.
In terms of its performance, acceleration, braking and steering all deliver basic,
pure sensations. This my friends, is a true sports car – no superfluous control systems to invade the raw joy of driving. The manual, non-assisted steering took a little getting used to, but ultimately delivered a direct controlled sensation, not normally found in many of today’s sports cars. The handling characteristics rendered a “seat-of-your-pants’ feedback of confidence and control. The Alfa 4C stays flat and planted. The DCT gearbox with the paddle shifters provided instantaneous and smooth gear transitions, with better than manual results, though I’m sure there are those who would still prefer a standard transmission.
Old world craftsmanship is in evidence through out the 4C. It is a perfect driver’s car, with everything properly positioned for the ultimate in user friendliness. It is not quite as ideal for passengers with long legs, as the driver oriented instrument panel curves into and invades the passenger space. The dash also extends more rearward on the passenger side, making it difficult at best to attain the ideal seating position for really tall passengers. Surprisingly however, headroom is not an issue – there is plenty, but a Spyder version would be a welcome addition to the 4C lineup. Will there be one? We wouldn’t be a bit surprised. In fact, we would be surprised if an open version isn’t forthcoming in the not too distant future. An 8C may well be in development as well.
Bottom line, the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is perhaps best described as an exotic mini-super car, capable of providing a most enjoyable driving experience.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Sport Coupe
|Price as Tested:||$64,845.|
|Engine Type and Size:||1750cc DOHC, 16-valve, turbocharged, Direct Injection inline 4-cylinder, liquid-cooled with dual variable-valve timimg, intercooler and wet sump.|
|Horsepower (bhp):||237 @ 6,000 rpm|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||258 @ 2,200-4,250 rpm|
|Transmission:||Six-speed Alfa TCT twin-clutch with sequential paddle-shift gear selection and automatic mode.|
|Drive Train:||Transversely-mounted mid engine visible through the rear glass / Rear-wheel drive.|
Front – Superimposed Double wishbone, high- strength steel tubular-control arms, aluminum knuckles and tubular anti-roll bar with stiffer springs, sway bar and performance -tuned shock absorbers.
Rear – MacPherson rear strut: shock absorber with hollow piston rod and side-load spring, high-strength steel tubular-control arms and aluminum knuckles with stiffer springs, sway bar and performance -tuned shock absorbers.
|Brakes:||Power-assisted tandem diaphragm with zero lost travel with Brembo fixed four-piston calipers front / dual opposing calipers in the rear.|
|Tires:||Pirelli P-Zero 205/40ZR18 86Y front / 235/35ZR19 91Y rear. Mounted on Fluoform Matte Black 10-sculpted spoke alloy wheels.|
|Length Overall:||157.5 inches|
|Curb Weight:||2,465 lbs.|
|Fuel Capacity:||10.5 gallons|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||24 mpg city / 34 mpg highway|
|0 – 60 mph:||Mid 4-second range. Top speed 160 mph.|
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.