2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Preview
Alfa Romeo CEO Harald Wester stated back in May that over the past 30 years, the brand’s DNA had “not been respected.” Wester laid out five areas that Alfa Romeo need to achieve in every vehicle they sell. These include “advanced, innovative engines,” “50/50 weight distribution,” “unique technical solutions,” “class exclusive power-to-weight ratios” and “groundbreaking and distinctively Italian” design – all designed to put the “driver at the center” of every Alfa Romeo made.
Michael Berube, Director of Product Planning for Alfa Romeo reiterated these five areas and discussed the future of the brand at Chrysler Group LLC’s “What’s New” press event at the Chelsea Proving Grounds near Ann Arbor, Michigan. “Going forward, everything Alfa Romeo does will always be global,” said Berube, “[It is] one of the tenets of doing Alfa Romeo right and having the right business case and products that are sold around the world.”
The first vehicle to be sold by Alfa Romeo is the 4C. This is a mid-engine, two-seat sports car made for the hardcore enthusiast. The operative word is “hardcore.” A 1,750cc turbocharged four-cylinder engine powers the mid-engine 4C with 237 horsepower on tap. This engine is mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch TCT transmission with an automatic mode and “launch control.” When asked why the choice of transmission, Berube responded that “[a] manual gearbox would take up space that you would probably not want to give up.”
That said, the cabin is pretty tight with limited room for a lot of amenities. There is plenty of headroom for six-foot-two tall persons, but one has to contend climbing in and out of the 4C with a wide carbon fiber sill to negotiate. Once inside, you work the steering without power assist and a small wheel. Changing gears is through a pair of paddle shifters on the steering wheel. This setup is not for the mere driver – it is for the enthusiast who can control this 2,465 pound sports car with a 49/51 weight distribution skewed rearward.
“We were not going to compromise for what it wanted it to be,” said Berube. “It is a two-seat, mid-engine roadster…all unique carbon fiber tub, which you cannot find in this price range.” The first 500 4Cs in North America will be the Launch Edition, priced at $69,695 and available only in three colors. All other 4Cs start at $55,195. This car will be built in Modena, Italy at the Maserati workshop and sold through an initial network of 82 Alfa Romeo showrooms across the U.S.A.
CarSoup.com took a 4C around an autocross course set up on Chelsea’s skidpad to see how it drove. It is difficult to describe without using excitable words – in English and Italian – as adjectives. Let us just say that this will be the ride of your life – an experience only reserved for cars priced in the six-figures. In other words – the 4C is definitely “hardcore”
We could only conclude that Alfa Romeo’s return is an absolute fact and this car is worth the wait.
**If you are interested in an Alfa Romeo – including the upcoming 4C – log onto CarSoup.com to find out what is available on sale. **
*Photos © Chrysler Group LLC *