Alfa Romeo's new 4C will mark the Italian brand's return to the United States, but things will start small. At the 2014 Detroit Auto Show last month, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne told The Detroit News that the small sports car will arrive in the U.S. in June, but only at select dealers.
The 4C will be sold at Maserati stores, as well as the best-performing Fiat dealers. Marchionne said those Fiat dealers "know who they are," but a Fiat Chrysler spokesman revealed to the newspaper that dealers have not been told whether or not they've been chosen.
That means finding a 4C may take a little work, but the pint-sized sports car was never meant to be common. Its anticipated U.S. base price is $54,000--a bit more than a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray--and only a fraction of the 3,500 4C sports cars Alfa plans to build each year will be imported here.
Those cars will be roughly 220 pounds heavier than ones sold in other markets, due to extra aluminum bracing needed to pass U.S. crash tests, and some modifications made to the fuel tank and fuel lines.
Still, with its carbon fiber chassis and compact dimensions, the 4C should be an excellent car to drive. Power comes from a 1.75-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine, which produces 240 horsepower. Coupled to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, it will propel the 4C from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, and on to a (limited) top speed of 155 mph.
If nothing else, the 4C should attract plenty of attention to the Alfa brand. It will need to do that if Alfa's U.S. presence is to remain permanent.