Every once in a while a car comes along that’s built for one group of people, the car enthusiast. A car where cargo space doesn’t matter, and comfort gives way to rock hard suspension meant for apexing turns on your favorite track. A car where toys are considered power windows a couple of speakers. One of the newest cars built for this group is the Alfa Romeo 4C. Chances are if you are anything like me you have read at least a review or 50 on this car. It brought forth the second coming of Alfa stateside in almost 25 years. This car has been heralded as the poor man’s Ferrari, and a true thoroughbred track weapon, so how does it actually stand up to all of the acclaim?
(Full Disclosure: Alfa wanted me to drive the 4C so bad, my dealership received 2 of them and I begged the manager for two weeks straight until I finally was allowed to have some seat time)
This should really come as no surprise. The 4C throws back to almost every Alfa race car of the last century, and it does it very well. Pictures can’t do this car justice, if you ever have the chance go find one and look at it in person. You won’t regret it. In a world of ever stricter crash standards, it’s amazing that a car like this is still able to leave the factory. It’s low slung, wide, and just long enough to give the car a stance that can only really be described as a proper Italian sports car. The one I sampled was the Madreperla White Tri-Coat which changed my opinion on white cars completely. The carbon fiber package also adds some much needed contrast, and overall ties the car together as a whole.
The Interior on this car is a little bit of a different story however. What Alfa calls seats are basically two leather pads bolted to a carbon fiber tub. That’s it. That’s all you get. Take it or leave it. The seats are bolstered to be fair, however I found the bolstering to be pretty loose, but that could just be my fitment.While the carbon fiber looks amazing, the plastic on the center console makes the rest of the interior look a little cheaper than it should be. Another important thing to note is that if you’re over 6 feet tall and were considering this car, you’re going to have a bad time. It took my 6’3” self, and this is no joke, 3 minutes just to get back out of the car when I was done driving. Also you have no storage compartments that are usable so there’s that, not that it really matters in a car like this.
Now we’re getting somewhere. I’ve never driven an old turbo 911, but I imagine this car isn’t far off once the traction control is turned off. For every article you’ve read about how turbo cars don’t act like they have a turbo anymore, how they are quiet, and how the power comes on to smooth, this car is the complete opposite of all that. The 4C makes 23 pounds of boost, and you feel it every time you mash the go pedal. 237hp may not sound like a lot, but when you consider the weight of this car you realize very quickly that triple digits hit you faster than you’d think. The power also comes on like a turbo car should, a slight delay as you feel the turbo spool then you’re off like a rocket. Add in the dual clutch transmission that snaps off shifts almost instantly even in auto mode, and all in all you have a car that feels much faster than it really is on your hands.
With 12 in discs in the front and 11.5 in discs in the rear this car stops just like it should. Being that the car is light in the first place makes it easy enough to stop. The only reason that this does not get a perfect 10 is the pedal feel. When you first stop you’d think that the 4C has no power brakes. There’s nothing for about 3/4 of the pedal travel then almost everything once you pass that threshold. I found this to be odd, but to each their own I suppose.
It’s rough. Like if you’re taking it to the golf club you should schedule a trip to the chiropractor on the way back rough. That being said, being comfortable is not what this car is about. The suspension does it’s job and is set up for the track, and that’s where it really shines. On shorter trips the car is bearable, but I wouldn’t want to be doing road trips in the 4C anytime soon.
In a day and age with electric steering and every computer nanny under the sun, the 4C gets things oh so right. Forget electric power steering, hell forget power steering in general. You get a wheel connected to a shaft connected to some other wheels in the 4C. You feel every bump in the road and response is dead on with the steering. This car shows whats possible when we go back to basics and truly let the driver drive the car. The only reason this did not get a perfect 10 was because the car did have a little more under-steer then I thought it would. With all the weight in the rear end I expected it to be the opposite but yet every time I went through a turn with any kind of speed, the car kept pushing out. This could just mean it had more to give and I’m not a race car driver, but that’s just my two cents.
Yes yes I know, its not a manual why cant you get a stick blah blah blah. Guess what, this car really doesn’t need a manual. I’m all for a clutch pedal in the right car, but this just isn’t it. The DCT makes perfect use for the turbo and snaps off shifts faster than any driver could even hope to. At the end of the day this is still a track car, meant for setting the fasted lap times you can, the DCT only helps with that.
It has a radio that four speakers and they make sounds happen. I could go more in depth but it doesn’t matter, In a car like this you’re never going to have the radio on. What you really care about is the optional race exhaust system. That’s where the magic happens. The 4C also doesn’t try to hide its turbo noise, every whirl and hiss and crackle echo’s through the cabin and makes the driving experience that much more engaging.
You have a radio with 4 speakers a single din head unit. That’s pretty much it for toys. At least when the radio does die you can replace it with something from the local auto parts store like it’s 1990 all over again. I will give Alfa credit for the digital screen for the gauge cluster. It’s clear and displays all the info you could need when you are tracking the car, so good job there.
The car I drove stickered for about $69,000. I think the 4C is worth every penny if not more. It truly does feel like an entry level Ferrari, and that’s not a bad thing. This car isn’t meant to be your daily driver, it’s meant to be the car you can drive back and forth to the track, race it. then take it home again, and it does that job amazingly.
Engine: 1.75 L turbo four-cylinder
Torque: 258 lb. feet
0-60: 4.5 seconds
Top Speed: 160 mph
MSRP: $53,900 ($69,795 as tested)