Alfa Romeo’s small supercar lives up to all the hype. It provides high performance, precise handling and full driver involvement. The sound effects are impressive too!
To understand what it’s made of, just turn the ignition. From the exhausts comes a dull roar, full of low frequency tones. It’s resounding from the outside, but it’s no joke on the inside either – especially given the fact that the acceleration is so explosive that you never feel the need to actually disturb launch control. Given the circumstances, it’s best to get comfortable. Small yes, but the passenger area of the 4C leaves little to be desired by the driver. The length ensures sufficient space even for the tallest people, the flat bottom steering wheel eliminates any risk of interference with your knees, and the backrest is well profiled. Also, the tunnel on one side and the sill on the other guarantee adequate support for your legs.
Rev Counter in yellow
The instrumental panel, entirely digital, is as small as it is rich with information – including turbo pressure, oil temperature, and, obviously, ‘g-force.’ But it’s the tachometer that captures your attention, which turns from white to yellow when it’s time to change gears. This is useful, considering the fact that the 6,700rpm limiter is achievable without making much effort. And this urgency is heightened when ‘Dynamic’ mode is selected. In fact, the TCT (Twin Clutch Transmission) is one of the elements which is most affected from the selected driving mode. When switching over to Dynamic, the changes in transmission become faster, the closure of the clutches more sudden, and this is often accompanied by the actual noise of the shifts. This, added to the aforementioned engine sound, which is occasionally joined by a prominent exhaust popping and banging, gives life to a sort of symphony – capable of telling you what the mechanicals are doing in music.
With this on-going orchestra in the background, it comes almost naturally to start pushing the 4C instantly. And this little Alfa doesn’t need to be begged. The horsepower isn’t exceptional by any means, but it is feather-light. The gears are relatively short – you can engage 6th gear at just 50km/h, at which point it’s turning over at just 1,000rpm. The behaviour of the Alfa, in all conditions, is agile and instant. The inputs are prompt, and changes in direction are without delay or uncertainty. This particular 4C was equipped with the Racing Pack, which means a stiffened suspension and 19-inch wheels. The steering wheel is also remarkable – very direct, and no slack around the straight position, so one certainly needs to keep the inputs under control. Otherwise, with the help of adequate negative camber in front, all it takes is the slightest movement of the steering to trigger a deviation in trajectory.
On the road to lightness, Alfa has decided to forgo power steering. This choice continues to be controversial. Naturally, there’s the inevitable difficulty of manoeuvring at a standstill – although it requires only the minimum movement of the tyres to alleviate this problem. Alfa’s technicians have ensured that full lock only requires two-and-a-half turns – and, considering the short wheelbase of this car, the steering doesn’t require more than half-a-turn for even the most challenging hairpins. Loading and precision is finely tuned, and the handling is complimented by only a hint of body roll. In any case, a steady hand is called for from the driver, especially around fast bends. The driver needs to move fast to recover oversteer, which only rears it head when one switches to ‘Race’ mode – the most extreme of the four driving modes. The braking system also gets top marks. The brake pedal response is immediate – the deceleration is intense, and the support from the anchors is never in doubt.
In short, it has everything you need to have a blast – which is the principal aim of cars such as these. The rest drifts into the background – whether it’s comfort (sacrificed less than you would imagine) or interior finishes (special in some cases, compromised in others), or the location of certain controls (while the DNA selector falls nicely at hand, the control buttons of the transmission are rather far). In the end, though, the only real criticism is rearward visibility – considering that the rear window is no more than a slit.
A bit of downforce
Discovering the 4C with Alfa Romeo testers – the car displays meticulous attention to aerodynamics, with negative lift (Cz -0.05), while the Cx is 0.34
The carbon monocoque weighs a mere 65kgs. It’s made by Adler Plastic with pre-preg technology (impregnated fibres) and is processed in an autoclave. In this way, complex-shaped panels are produced in a single piece
Thanks to the aluminium crankcase, the direct injection engine weighs 22kgs less than the 1,750cc motor of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta
First deliveries will be made in October, with price starting at 53,000 Euros. This is how the commercial life of the baby super-sport Alfa Romeo will begin. It’ll be produced in limited quantities at the Maserati factory in Modena, which, at the moment, produces seven cars a day. Once fully operational, they could reach 3,500 units per year. Obviously, there is great expectation for Alfa’s US debut, which is scheduled for the second half of 2014. What is also probable for next year is the arrival of a convertible version, but this has not been officially confirmed.
Even the caps for the headlight projectors are made of carbon, as they help shed a few hundred grams – every little bit helps reach the central objective, which is a power-to-weight ratio of less than 4kg/bhp
Short wheelbase, light weight – ideal for a precise and reactive handling. It’s perfect for the more sinuous roads
The passenger area, and even the dashboard, is tailored towards the driver. The instrumental panel is entirely digital. Below, the luggage compartment is small, but deep
Leather, fibre and microfibre
The seats are almost stuck between the naked carbon sill and the central tunnel. There are four options available for the seat material – black leather, red leather, black fiber, and a leather-microfiber mix
1,742cc, 4 cylinders turbo-petrol
237bhp at 6,000rpm
350Nm at 2,200-4,250rpm
6-speed dual-clutch transmission
Max speed: 258km/h
0-100km/h: 4.5 seconds
Average consumption: 14.7km/l
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