I’m a superficial hypocrite. I keep saying that I will write about its performance and its character, but I keep going back to pictures and how it looks like NSFW on wheels. Fortunately, unlike my wife this car can’t talk back. Yet.
Today I’ll share the unusual things that I’ve found so far on the 4C—some of them I’m sure you have seen or heard of already, but that doesn’t make it any less unusual or special. This car is stuffed full of weirdness but I love it all.
Starting with the outside:
One styling detail that European cars consistently do well is the logo placement. European cars always have a raised nub or recessed body panel to “greet” the brand logo. It’s expensive, but does a lot to make a car look upscale. Alfa takes it to another level—there’s a special extension from the body just to frame it. We all know the rear luggage boot is tiny, on the order of 3.5 cu ft. Here are all of the materials that came with the car when it was new. In the Spider version, this would be known as the roof storage bin because it wouldn’t be able to fit anything else. Due to the shape of modern car windscreens, single wipers have become quite uncommon. Like most Italian sports cars, the 4C makes no attempt to hide it, but at least it sits lower than the F355's wipers. Like many of its big brother supercars, the fuel filler neck sits high above the vehicle’s lower structure. Surprisingly, the 4C has got FCA’s convenient capless filler, originally a Chrysler innovation. And check out the neat AR emblem all over the black surround. I thought this car was all about cost-cutting? Many are critical of the prop rod as a cheap mechanism for the rear lid. Some dismiss it as a measure of weight savings. I view it as one less thing to break. Another strange thing is that the lid is quite heavy; you may not be able to get it open while holding a bunch of other stuff. The last thing is the oddly industrial-looking set of brackets holding the chicken wire vents to the rear lid—that’s just overkill. Being a car of carbon tub construction, the roof structure is also unlike most cars. Both coupe and Spider share a similar roll bar, seen here bolted to the tub and supporting both the roof and the rear lid hinges. Note the shameless trimming quality of that insulation pad. There is no front boot. The radiators sit here, but they were too cheap to include a luggage bin, hinges, latches and weather sealing. Tools are required to remove this large panel. This lower scoop is only present on the left side of the car. It’s a duct to cool the transmission, and is standard on all US cars but apparently an option in Europe. The wheels are another styling highlight, but the strange thing is Alfa chose a tire size that nobody makes. So for now I’m stuck with buying the special “AR” version of these Pirelli P-Zero tires. They’re okay, I guess. This is the only visual difference between US cars and non-US cars. US DOT 5 mph bumperette covers are NOT removable unlike Porsche’s. They are moulded into the plastic fascia. We know that cars are forced to parts-share with their corporate cousins (even Ferraris have had plenty of Fiat switchgear), but I was surprised to find this halogen turn signal repeater to be the exact same part from my wife’s former Fiat 500L. I’m sure other cars use it as well, and I will take the opportunity to rant again about how dangerous it is that the US still does not mandate side signal repeaters. Some reviewers like SavageGeese have touched on this, but most people miss it. It’s a common complaint that the 4C uses a rear strut suspension instead of wishbones or multi-links, but check out these mean-looking control arms. They nearly reach the centre of the car, just like race cars. Definitely designed to improve geometry through the suspension travel. The fronts are wishbones but cannot be viewed as easily. This chicken-wire panel must be removed with a screwdriver to access the wiper fluid filler neck. Having a plastic (OK, they call it “sheet moulding compound” which is basically a type of FRP) body means that you can have very unusual, deeply sculpted shapes. Try stamping a steel panel into this shape. Moving to the inside, but before we get in, this is the ONLY way to open the rear lid. No remote, no button under the lid itself. The driver door must be open, which is not really that annoying but takes getting used to. The CFRP tub is the highlight of the interior, as we all know. It makes me want a CF bathtub. A consequence of this type of structure is that the side sills are very high compared to normal cars. My wife hasn’t ridden in this car yet, but I’ll pick a day when she has a short skirt and heels on. Will report back if I survive. Lots of people complain about the obstructed gauge view. This is about how much gets blocked for me—not too bad. Also, in Dynamic mode, the whole gauge turns yellow to advise an upshift. The digital instrument pod is nice, but they forgot to change the Euro style odometer reading. Comma for decimal, #nobigdeal This is the most obvious cost-cutting measure in the entire car. Rather than design a custom climate control panel, they threw in this parts-bin leftover that will bang against your left shin. “Aaa, Giancarlo! The Americans want cup holders! We only have space at behind the centre tunnel, I will put it there. What? They need two cup holders? OK, there’s room in front of the other one, but it can only be 5 cm deep.” The steering wheel is one of the most surprising parts of the interior. It has a very racy flat bottom, not like those halfsie ones that most “sports steering wheels” have. I’ve shown my hand here because it offers a very comfortable cruising position for both hands. Or, it would have been comfortable if the car didn’t wander so much on straight roads!! Similar to my wife’s former Fiat, the owner’s documents come in this neat little not-quite-leather pouch. I found this stuck inside the inner cover. It took forever to pry out; the inner pouch had melted onto this plastic card. It took me several minutes to figure out that it rotates open and is actually a USB drive containing promotional videos. This embroidered pouch contains some emergency tools. The outside is perfectly normal. We have a tire inflator, tow hooks and fluid funnels. OK, that looks normal, but....... Turn it over and there’s a hose to refill your wiper fluid! The final laugh comes from the “Owner’s Manual,” which is marked model year 2015, and the “User Guide” which is marked 2016.