It’s hard for a car to also be a statement. Sure, you can find that in several-hundred-thousand-dollar supercars, but the statement of a supercar is not about driving– it is about money. But what cars are actually affordable, attract attention anywhere they go, and make a bold statement about the independence and joy of driving? The Alfa Romeo 4C is such a car.
Alfa Romeo may conjure up images of The Graduate, or shoddy Italian roadsters broken down on the side of the road, but parent company Fiat-Chrysler is bent on reinventing the American Public’s image of the iconic Italian brand. The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C aims to be the car that will usher in a new era for Italian cars in America.
Sure, there have been Alfas here before. And there have been Italian cars here since the brand’s departure in 1995. But unlike Ferrari and Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo will deliver performance driving at a much lower price-point.
The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C will accomplish this with a small, lightweight carbon fiber monocoque. This semi-unibody construction allows for a low center of gravity and superior body rigidity. Fixed to that unibody are rakish and striking body panels that conspire to deliver a downright supercar appearance.
Though at first glance, you may think that a fire-breathing V-12 is under the hood, when you get closer to the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C, you realize that it is a far smaller vehicle. It is much closer to a Lotus Esprit in size, and taller drivers will have to take notice.
Rather than the suspected V-12, the Alfa Romeo 4C is propelled by a 1.75-liter turbocharged inline-4. It makes 237 horsepower and 258 pound feet of torque, sent to the rear wheels through a 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
The 4C’s dual-clutch system can be operated manually, using the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, or in Automatic mode. But just because you’re not slapping the paddle shifters doesn’t mean you’re not in control of the transmission. Alfa Romeo fitted the 4C with the DNA selector, which provides three drive modes. Dynamic (D) is the most aggressive and performance-oriented driving mode, with quickened throttle response and shifts held longer for more robust acceleration. Neutral (N) turns the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C into more of an easy-driving grand touring car, and All-Weather (A) softens the throttle response and provides maximum control for inclement driving conditions.
Even in Normal driving mode, the 4C is incredibly agile. The 237 horsepower is more than enough to motivate it on winding roads, and the steering feedback is as natural and dialed in as this writer has ever experienced. That is because the 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C does not have power steering. You read correctly.
While automakers like BMW are making their cars heavier and less efficienct with electronic power-assist steering, the 4C relies purely on the driver’s input and the tuning by Italian engineers. But what makes for a sublime driving experience on the open road also has its setbacks. For one, is it difficult to turn the wheel of the 4C at slow speeds, and you need to put your full effort into turning the wheel when the car is stopped.
The cabin of the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C also presents some downsides. The minimalist interior, with exposed carbon fiber and metal bits, is the perfect aesthetic for such a vehicle, but we wish it wasn’t so spartan.
Sure, part of the point of the 4C is to be a pure sports car, but Alfa mismanages what little space it has. For a glovebox, there’s a leather pocket in the passenger footwell, and ther’s a small pocket for a cell phone on the bulkhead wall between the seats. Additionally, there’s an extra piece of plastic that protrudes into the passenger footwell. Space is crammed– especially for the passenger, so that extra plastic piece is a foolish placement. We checked behind the panel, and there was room for Alfa Romeo engineers to tighten that up. The 4C REALLY needs some cloth or leather pockets sewn into the doors, providing more cargo space.
Typically, mid-engined cars have a front trunk, but the front panel of the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C doesn’t open. Rather, the rear engine is so svelte, that there is space for a trunk behind the engine and ahead of the rear bumper. This area is large enough for one overnight bag and one backpack, but not much more than that.
If you are focused on traveling comfortably, you may focus on the storage as an issue, but if you are a true driving enthusiast, those problems will just wash away as you take to the open road. The exhaust note that escapes from the back of the 4C is explosive, and sets the tune of an amazing Sunday morning drive up into the hills or along back farm roads.
So what is all of this driving enjoyment going to cost? That requires a little explaining. The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is listed at $53,900, but you can’t get a 2015 model at that price. You can only opt for the Launch Edition, which costs $68,400, plus $1,295 in destination costs.
That is still quite affordable for the price of the 4C. Not to mention the fact that if you used this to commute in the summer, you would be getting 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. In a week of mixed city/highway driving, we observed nearly 28 mpg.
The fuel economy is just the icing on the cake. If you truly love to drive on the open road, the MPG matter a little bit less, however it will only add to how far you can go on a weekend ride. The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C should be considered more like a motorcycle or jet ski. It is a weekend toy that requires some sacrifices to enjoy– but the payout in performance and freedom make it well worth it. You won’t find another vehicle on the market with the styling or the handling of the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C.
2015 Alfa Romeo 4C
Base Price: $53,900*
Price as Tested: $68,400
Launch Edition: $14,500
* 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C has a $53,900 base price, but it’s not avaialble at that price.
Gorgeous exterior styling
Explosive exhaust note
Lack of interior storage
Weird pricing that requires a $14,500 upgrade