New & Used Alfa Romeo 4C: In Depth
Alfa Romeo dropped off the radar of American drivers back in the early 1990s, when it withdrew from sales, taking the ancient Spider convertible and slow-selling 164 sedan with it.
The Alfa Romeo 4C, new for the 2015 model year, is the first of what Fiat Chrysler Automobiles promises will be a slew of new vehicles under the famed marque. The 4C will spearhead the revival, with scorching performance and looks straight out of the Ferrari and Dino playbook, and a price tag starting at about $55,000.
MORE: Read our 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C review
The concept may be simple, but the 4C was not done as a cost-saving exercise. It gets its own carbon-fiber chassis, with a front-engine powertrain flipped around and installed in the rear, for a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. The wheelbase measures only about 96 inches, and the whole car isn't much longer, at 156 inches. The tidy size and weight-saving design lead to a U.S.-spec total of 2,450 pounds. That's slightly higher than the European model, as a result of additional crash-structure requirements as well as standard infotainment, air conditioning, and a passenger seat that adjusts, if only barely.
Power for the 4C comes from a 1.7-liter, turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine. It's rated at 237 horsepower--a figure that puts it on par with a Ford Focus ST, but with a significant power-to-weight advantage. Each horsepower only has to carry about 10.3 pounds.
The 4C is rear-wheel drive, and the sole transmission is a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic with paddle shifters. It has a few shift modes, from fully automatic operation to full manual control.
The engine features an aluminum block and special intakes designed to deliver a sporty note and good throttle response. Alfa Romeo also boasts that the engine features a ‘scavenging control system’ that said to get rid of any turbo lag.
Alfa Romeo says the 4C's performance is pure sports car: it quotes a 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds, and a limited top speed of 155 mph.
Fuel economy is rated at 24/34 mpg, or 28 mpg combined.
Ride and handling are managed by a lightweight aluminum suspension--struts in front, double wishbone in back--mounted on subframes that are in turn mounted to the car’s carbon tub. The 4C also comes with a driving ‘DNA’ selector, which will allow the driver to select from Dynamic, Natural and All Weather modes, plus a special Race mode. American-spec cars have staggered 17- and 18-inch wheels and tires; an optional set includes 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels and tires.
Inside, the 4C has two seats and a minimalist look for the dash, with much of the carbon-fiber structure left bare for admiration. The center column, which is actually part of the carbon structure, has been left in full view to enhance the sense of uniqueness, technology and light weight.
A special Launch Edition will be available in the U.S. It's limited to 500 units, and comes with convenience features and special trim--and a pricetag just below $70,000.A 4C Spider convertible is in the works, and should arrive next year.