The 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C is powered by a 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which is mounted behind the cockpit, in the tradition of the best Italian sports cars. The engine is capable of producing 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. While that may seem rather modest for a sports car of this caliber, Alfa Romeo claims that the 4C is still capable of 0-60 times in about 4.5 seconds, with a top speed of 160 mph. The only transmission available is a six-speed dual-clutch unit with paddle shifters.
The 4C utilizes various exotic construction techniques, including a structure composed of carbon fiber and aluminum as well as composite body panels. The engine, already physically smaller than those used in most of its competitors, is also an all-aluminum design and as a result, the car's total weight is kept down to about 2,000 pounds.
While the 4C's light weight keeps straight-line performance figures competitive, it also pays huge dividends in other areas. With so little weight over the front tires, Alfa has chosen not to fit the 4C with power steering, meaning the car offers better feedback and more steering feel than just about anything on the road these days. It should also be relatively fuel efficient when compared to its competitors.
The 4C is sold in two basic trims, the Launch edition and the standard 4C. Though the 4C tends to eschew luxury features in its quest to keep weight down, there are limits to this philosophy, and the standard 4C still comes equipped with powered windows and mirrors, air conditioning, a 7-inch thin-film transistor instrument cluster with a lateral acceleration G-meter and a 4-speaker sound system with USB and audio input jacks.
Launch Edition 4Cs include bi-xenon headlights, a slightly altered front fascia, a carbon fiber spoiler, carbon fiber and leather interior accents, bigger wheels, leather seating and a commemorative plaque.
There are several option packages available on the 4C. A Convenience Package adds cruise control, an alarm and parking sensors, while a Leather Package includes leather seating and contrasting stitching. The Track Package consists of some reworked suspension, bigger wheels, and track oriented seats, while the Carbon Fiber Package adds more of the material to the interior.
I met the Alfa Romeo 4C with mixed feelings. For certain, I was excited to drive the exclusive little Alfa; just look at how gorgeous it is. But I wasn't sure what frame of reference was most appropriate for evaluating it. There isn't much like it on the road. It's priced to compete with the likes of the Porsche Cayman, but it looks like it should be going wheel-to-wheel with a McLaren 650S. But to which class does the 4C belong?
To find out, I (awkwardly) climbed into the driver's seat and disappeared over a long weekend with the gorgeous and rare Alfa. What I learned is that the 4C is the missing link between the two classes with the head-turning looks, single-minded design, and all of the impracticalities of a supercar, but with a driving character and performance that's as accessible and rewarding as my favorite sports models.
The 4C is uncompromisingly designed for the business of a thrilling drive and equally thrilling look. This single-mindedness means that there is a mountain of compromises where daily driving is concerned. However, to my enthusiast's eye, these compromises are easily remedied.
The Good The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is one of the most gorgeous cars we've ever tested. The carbon-fiber monocoque and race-ready suspension are designed purely for driving enjoyment. Its turbocharged engine sounds amazing and is well mated to the lightweight chassis.
The Bad Rear visibility is next to nil. No manual transmission option is available. The car audio system is a joke.
The Bottom Line The head-turning Alfa Romeo 4C wraps accessible and thrilling sport compact performance in the gorgeous style and exotic materials of a supercar, but it's no daily driver.
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