It’s a mid-engined two-seater not from Germany or Japan. It flaunts a supercar monocoque and a humbler suspension. It cauterizes corners courtesy a dual-clutch gearbox and turbocharged power. It's exotically shaped from equally exotic materials.
It doesn't wear a Lotus badge, or a Ferrari one. But it could, easily.
It’s the Alfa Romeo 4C, and it’s set to kick off the brand’s U.S. revival later this year.
Alfa Romeo hasn't sold a car here in decades--and its last exit was an inglorious one, a dribble of Saab-based 164 sedans and a handful of aged Spider convertibles. (You want to talk about the 8C, right? No.) Now it's back, under the hopeful guard of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, with the 4C.
Alfa Romeo and Maserati CEO Harald Wester promises the 4C is the closest experience to a motorcycle on the road.
"It feels like you're wearing the car," Wester says. It's the "purest reincarnation of what Alfa stood for."
Memories of rod-throwing Milanos shucked, we see what he's going for here. Dynamically imperfect but damn close to it, visually a virtual outline of vintage racing hotness, the Alfa Romeo 4C is a limited-run come-on that's basically been fabricated out of thin air for a singular purpose. To make some noise.
Looks a million
While it's on the way to that glorious racket, the Alfa 4C kicks up serious styling stardust. A singularly stunning car, the 4C has emerged from concept-car fantasy to reality without a sin committed—calling up lots of panache in the process.
Low-slung and outrageously sexy,the 4C is a car that makes you pay attention. Alfa says it's inspired by the '67 Alfa 33 Stradale, but we can't help think Dino either--and in truth, the 4C's dimensions are a little closer to that ersatz Ferrari anyway. Put a prancing horse and a $100,000 pricetag on it, and it would look authentic except at the front, where the beaky overbite sets the Alfa tone. (That deep vee will look terrible behind a front license plate.)
Keep studying it. Those side air scoops could not be more artfully drawn. The cat-eye side glass mimics them perfectly. The rear end's capped in mic-dropping round LED lamps.
The 4C wants you to see all its guts and glory in gory detail. Its turbo heart kept under the rear glass, like a specimen. The interior's stark and there's slashes of red everywhere. Make your own Game of Thrones joke. The steering wheel's flat-bottom grin is a frozen S-Class-style rictus. Even the key fob is lacquered in a hemoglobin red.
In other places, the 4C is remorselessly low-rent, unless you know what you're looking at. It is not about cosseting, it is the opposite of that. That's why the plastics are a half-dozen grains, but they're textured to look like the road surface. The center tunnel is the car's carbon-fiber structure, not chintzy trim. The air vents are faired in a more thoughtful way, but the A/C box underneath it looks exactly like the tacked-on part that it is. The gauges are a 7-inch LCD display that shifts color according to the mode of the road ahead--where yellow and red can mean both fun and danger.