March 2, 2011
There are not many cars on the planet that inspire deep feelings of longing – feelings of single-minded, nothing-else-exists wanting. But of the few that can, some wear an Alfa Romeo badge. And this new model looks like it’s joining this rarefied company: the 4C.
Resplendent in a matte red finish as it wows attendees at the 2011 Geneva auto show, the 4C sports coupe’s sumptuous body is fashioned from lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum. The whole car weighs around 1,784 pounds, which is positively gossamer-like. That bodes well for fuel consumption, but there’s another upside that will be of more interest to Alfa’s core fans – an advantageous power-to-weight ratio.
Although the 4C’s engine – mid-mounted and driving the rear wheels – only displaces 1.8 liters in its four cylinders, it does employ a turbocharger to achieve a claimed output of “over 200 horsepower.” That puts the power-to-weight ratio in the same kind of class as a Porsche Cayman. Standstill to 60 mph is accomplished in under five seconds. Top speed is 155 mph. And check out that retro “telephone dial” alloy wheel design, one of the only things about the 1980s that still looks cool today.
So far, this is a concept model, but Harald Wester, CEO of Alfa, said the car goes into production in late 2012 and will be sold in the United States. The return of this marque is possible because it is a part of the Fiat company, a brand just re-establishing itself in the USA by virtue of its connection with Chrysler (Fiat currently has a 25-percent stake and its CEO, Sergio Marchionne, is also running Chrysler).
The 4C bears a strong resemblance to the 2007/08 8C, a limited-run coupe and convertible that also sold in the States, but each of those 90 cars cost more than $240,000. The 4C is set to go on sale in Europe at the equivalent of $62,000. There is also talk of a Spyder convertible version. If Alfa Romeo is going to make a successful U.S. comeback, this looks like the best bet.
COLIN RYAN has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.