Alfa Romeo has stuck to the classic sports car formula for its 4C Spider; build a light car with few frills and give it sufficient power and volume to make even a boring commute fun. Essentially, this is Alfa’s answer to the Lotus Elise. Technically the 4C spider is a targa, with a foldable soft top that stows in the trunk. Just don’t plan on taking much more than a few bags of groceries with you if the sun’s out.
Giallo Prototipo. That’s the name of the color Alfa has given this car. Just calling it “yellow” seems less confusing, but that’s really not getting into the spirit of Alfa is it? The sight of the car did provoke a few thumbs up from other drivers and pedestrians; imagine for a moment this was Italy and you might hear choruses of Che bella machina!
The 4C’s interior is... intimate. Due to the steep rake of the windshield, failure to exercise care while entering will result in your noggin coming into contact with the frame (ouch). But, the removable roof panel does make ingress/egress much simpler for taller folks. It’s hard to image how much more difficult life with the 4C coupe would be. Once seated, the cockpit is cozy but not cramped. The biggest squawk against the interior is the steering wheel rim blocks the top part of the display when in its highest adjustment position - which is a necessity for anyone with legs.
A $150 aftermarket radio does seem a bit out of place in a car with an MSRP of $72k, but you get what you get. The carbon fiber construction is given away by the appearance of the door sills/kick panels, but I’ve yet to figure out what the padded slots outboard of the seats are. Shrouded in mystery, the Alfa is.
The Lilliputian 1.7 liter is good for 237hp and 258lb-ft torque, motivating the 2,465lb spider to 60 in 4.1 seconds while the optional sport tuned dual exhaust announced every shift with a loud blattt. SO much fun when driving through tunnels and highway on-ramps in particular will put a goofy grin on one’s face. The paddle-shifted 6-speed dual clutch transmission lets you effortlessly bang through shifts smoother than any manual transmission, even though the driver involvement is diminished.
The test car had the optional staggered wheels; 18x7 up front and 19x8.5 out back. This upsizes the standard 17x7/18x8 wheels. Also included were the optional Yellow Performance Brake Calipers. (Alfa’s term) Sorry folks, ceramic brakes aren’t an option here.
The Alfa is an elemental, unfiltered sports car with few of the luxuries typically found in larger and heavier autos with sporty intent - starting with power steering, which the 4C does without. But with only about 40% of its weight on the front wheels, it’s just not required and road feel is enhanced because of it. On the road the biggest surprise is the ride quality. It’s firm but not so firm it beats the driver up. That said, only the most hardcore Alfisti would use this for a daily driver. The 4C does offer a fair amount of exclusivity which may factor into the buying decision when other manufacturers offer similar performance with greater amenities. But cars like the 4C exist for the visceral experience. By itself that’s enough to justify a niche car from a niche manufacturer.