Bar the 8C Competizione, the Italian company has failed in recent years to emulate the essence of what made it one of the most highly regarded automobile makers in the world, but that’s all about to change with the introduction of the Alfa Romeo 4C. Assembled at Maserati’s Modena plant in Italy the 4C’s balanced form is derived from the fundamental notion of form following function.
Everything you see was tirelessly honed in the quest for optimal aerodynamics. While you can clearly see hints of Lotus and Ferrari in its genetic composition the fact remains this is one sensational-looking automobile, especially when optioned in Competizione Red paint – one of six available exterior hues.
Climb inside and you’re greeted by an uncomplicated cabin layout replete with beautifully sculpted leather sports seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and a driver-focused digital instrumentation screen. There’s also a rawness about it, particularly with reference to the exposed carbon weave of the tub on the door sills and floor pan behind the aluminium pedals. It looks and feels fantastic.
The 4C is all about weight reduction and the engineers were able to achieve this thanks to a 65kg carbonfibre tub, a 22kg lighter all-aluminium engine and a mix of aluminium and super-light composites. There’s been a lot of debate around engine choice and which application would best suit the 4C, but the tweaked, mid-mounted 177kW/350Nm 1.75-litre four-cylinder turbo mill is perfectly suited to the job.
Considering the 4C weighs in at just 895kg it boasts an impressive power-to-weight ratio of nearly 200kW/tonne and, as such, it’s able to catapult itself from 0-100kph in 4.5seconds on its way to a 258kph top speed. While these figures don’t necessary hold as much credence as those of a Ferrari 458 or McLaren 650S the 4C exhibits very much a supercar-like persona.
Enraged spider monkey
The driving experience is absolutely mental. Twist the key and the engine roars capriciously before settling into a characteristic four-cylinder idle. A couple of throttle prods reveals a lively tone underscored by a host of crackles and pops. The 4C screams off the line belting out some obscene flatulence from the dual exhaust exits as the next gear of the six-speed TCT transmission slams home. It sounds brilliant, especially since the four-cylinder is located right behind your head. You’ll hear the turbo spooling as it sucks in air and the wastegate flutter and chirrup like an enraged spider monkey when you’re going balls to wall.
The 4C is an immensely agile machine, especially through the curvy sweeps of Kyalami. While I wasn’t able to sample the 4C on the road, the track environment highlighted the ease at which it was able to dispose of every corner, elevation change and straight with little fuss. Like joining the dots in a colouring book, so is the 4C’s ability to carve from apex after apex without respite. Sure, the unassisted steering takes some getting used to but the accuracy from the helm together with the responsive chassis and low centre of gravity means more often than not you’ll enter corners well below the car’s grip threshold. Garner enough courage to apply some power mid-corner and you’ll be rewarded with a manageable slide, controlled by dialling in opposite lock.
Already spoken for
While it’s not as polished as a Porsche Cayman the Alfa Romeo 4C has oodles more character, a more engaging appearance and a raw purity that’s become a rare commodity these days. While we’re yet to experience it on road the Alfa Romeo 4C is a serious driving tool and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Priced at R870 000 and standard with a 3-year/100 000km warranty and maintenance plan the Alfa 4C’s allotment of 20 units this year is already spoken. There may be a further 20 models available next year.
– Aaron Borrill
NEED TO KNOW
Alfa Romeo 4C PRICE R870 000 ENGINE 1742cc, four-cylinder turbocharged, 177kW @ 6000rpm, 350Nm @ 2200-4250rpm TRANSMISSION Six-speed TCT, rear-wheel drive SUSPENSION Double wishbone front, multi-link rear LENGTH/WIDTH/HEIGHT 3 989 / 1 864 / 1 183 mm WEIGHT 895kg PERFORMANCE 4.5sec 0-100kph, 258kph top speed, 6.8l/100km, 157g/km ON SALE Now