Rumors were flying in the lead-up to this
year’s Geneva Motor Show as legendary Italian automaker Alfa Romeo prepared to
unveil the production variant of their hot new two-seater, the 2014 4C. While
any launch from Alfa is usually hyped among the predominantly European fan
base, the 4C will be the first model to relaunch the brand in the American
market since it withdrew in the mid-1990s.
At first look, the 4C is a strikingly beautiful but overwhelmingly distinct looking compact hot rod. It’s quite different from most of the “exotics” on the roads these days, and that factor could either make or break its success with buyers unfamiliar with the brand’s styling here in the U.S. The vehicle’s exterior harks back to noted historic models—particularly the rare 1968 33 Stradale (only 18 were made)—but it is ultimately engineered both in Alfa treatments and in aerodynamics to meet the company’s benchmark for performance. The front fascia, unmistakably Alfa Romeo, serves as a design extension of the raised “V” lines of the hood, directing the sight lines down through the bumper and over the flared wheel wells, ultimately flowing into the dynamic sculpted side air intakes that emphasize the vehicle’s power and speed. Together, these elements form one of the greatest facets of Alfa’s profile: the famous “Trefoil.”
Underneath this shell lies a mid-engine, all-aluminum powertrain—or as Alfa refers to it, “the beating heart.” The newly developed direct-injection 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine drives an impressive 240 horses of power through the chassis, making it just as suitable for everyday driving as it is track-ready. The 1750 Turbo produces a decent 258 pound-feet of torque at a low 1700 rpm, all of which is controlled by Alfa’s TCT twin-dry-clutch six-speed transmission in automatic with more suitable paddles behind the steering wheel. The wheel itself, we’re told, does not feature power steering, partially to save weight but also to preserve a dynamic driving experience.
The 40/60 front-back weight distribution is enhanced through the frame through the use of high-strength composite material, with the driver and passenger chassis itself an astoundingly light 65 kg monocoque (supporting weight through an external skin) built of Formula 1-tech carbon fiber. The Alfa DNA selector includes a Race driving mode as well as the traditional Dynamic, Natural and All Weather options.
When it comes to the overall numbers, the Alfa 4C really does hit it out of the park with a top speed of over 155 mph, reaching the zero to 60 mark in about 4.5 seconds.
It’s no doubt this car has broad sex appeal, with its intuitive Italian styling and powerful technology gleaned from Fiat Group cousin Maserati. While the 4C—named for four pistons and cilindro (cylinders)—will be the first to land in the U.S. later this year, we’re promised a slew of additional models will make their stateside debut in the coming years, very much along the lines of what the company has been doing with its Fiat brand since 2011.
While the 4C is rumored to cost somewhere near $60K to start when it appears this fall, those who feel the need to get their hands on one first can preorder the Launch Edition, which comes in Carrara White with carbon fiber accents for around 60,000 Euros. Act quickly; there will be only 500 for the North American market.
For more details, check out www.4c.alfaromeo.com