Alfa made its first mistake in today’s press release by describing the light-weight 4C as a ‘supercar’. I’m hoping that’s just a Freudian-slip rather than any indication of the 4C being all style over substance.
Because Alfa Romeo ‘need’ this car to succeed. I grew up driving Alfa’s, from the Alfetta GTV to the Alfasud Sprint, so they’re in my blood, but Alfa has never made a supercar, nor would I ever expect them to.
I do hope it’s not their way of justifying a pricing strategy which would put the 4C well above the competition, because with its all-carbon chassis I can’t imagine the diminutive sportscar will be cheap (not even Lotus Elise cheap).
The pictures you see here represent the ‘final’ production version of the 4C, due for launch at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, and thankfully little has changed from the early concept car prototypes.
Designed by Alfa Romeo engineers and produced in the Maserati plant in Modena, the 4C marks the return of Alfa Romeo to the US – the hottest market for sports and luxury cars at the moment.
Powered by a 1,750cc Turbo four-cylinder version of the engine used in the Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde, Alfa quote a weight to power ratio of less than 4 kg/HP, which with its rumoured 950kg kerb weight would result in around 234bhp. The all-aluminium engine is around 25kg lighter than in the Giulietta, which now used a cast aluminium rather than iron block.
Performance of sub-5 seconds 0-62mph and a top speed of 155mph has been mooted, while CO2 emissions should be considerably lower than the 192 g/km of Porsche’s six-cylinder 2.7-litre Cayman.
In addition to its light weight, the 1,750cc Turbo four features a unique intake and exhaust system optimised to enhance the engine’s sound and throttle response. The engine also boasts direct fuel injection, dual continuous variable valve timing and a revolutionary scavenging control system that is claimed to eliminate turbo lag.
Alfa’s TCT automatic twin dry clutch transmission is controlled using shift paddles located behind the steering wheel.
The 4C also sees the debut of the new Alfa DNA selector which features four settings – Dynamic, Natural, All Weather and Race, designed specifically for use on the race track.
At just under 4 metres long, the 4C is shorter than a 4.4 metre Porsche Cayman and a little longer than the 3.8 metre Lotus Elise. It’s wheelbase of 2.4 metres is 10 centimetres longer than the Elise, while the 4C sits just over 6 centimetres taller than the Elise at 1180mm. Perhaps the most noticeable difference will be in their width – at 2,000mm the 4C is 28 centimetres (11 inches) wider than the Elise and more on a par with the Cayman.
A price of £50,000 was mentioned at a recent Alfa Romeo dealer gathering, which would pitch it nearly 30% above the Cayman or around the same as the much quicker 345bhp Lotus Exige S. Let’s hope Alfa has got its sums right..
Production of the 4C begins in the summer, with first customer deliveries expected later in the year. Both Europe and America have been allocated 1,000 units a piece, with a remaining 500 cars available to other sales regions.