It's a game of Operation, extracting myself from the 4C, even without the helmet and now-skanky balaclava. This Rocky Horror dance move demands a certain sequence. It's just a step to the right, then swing your hips, then...then yank your other foot in and hope no one's watching you go down this particular runway plumber-style.
Here's my excuse. The 4C's only 157.5 inches long, with a 93.7-inch wheelbase. It's 73.5 inches wide, and--the killer--it sits just 46.6 inches high. You plop into it, and climb back up to the surface of the Earth to get out. Its 38 inches of headroom is better than a Camaro, but it's still easier to take the helmet off first, then leave with a little dignity.
You won't soon forget an exhilarating run around Sonoma, and some of that is because of the pinching you'll get from the cockpit. The sport seats are bolstered for the track, and they mean business. Their composite frames and side restraints are straight out of Folsom. Take your pick which one. The roof pillars sit a few half-inches from your head. If you're riding shotgun, watch out for the A/C controls; they press hard into your shin just when you need a good bracing point.
The kit-car ambiance fairly washes over the controls. The pushbuttons for the paddle-shifted, dual-clutch transmission occupy the console like they're staging a sit-in until a real manual gearbox shows up. The flicky mirror switch takes up an awful lot of valuable real estate in front while the semi-useless cupholders sit where your elbows want to rest. The radio system pipes in smartphone input and has a small LCD screen and generally will remind you of Best Buy's clearance shelf, circa 2005.
The trunk's a laughable 3.7-cubic-foot space held open with a prop rod. Pack like there's a tornado warning and never look back.
Not that you could. The 4C's gargantuan turning circle of 40.5 feet and mere sliver of rearward visibility means reversing it into a tight spot might possibly earn you a Medal of Freedom.
It's all perfect.
More stuff you should know
Production will take place at a Maserati plant in Modena, Italy. A Spider version is an obvious follow-up, and some hints exist inside the trim and cutlines of the interior, but nothing's been confirmed.
The 4C will initially be sold at select Fiat and Maserati dealerships and the first 500 examples will be a special Launch Edition, with maybe another thousand sold in each of the next two years. Pricing will begin at $55,195 for the standard car; it gets standard manual air conditioning, power windows and locks, USB connectivity, cruise control, black cloth seats (red leather is an option). Options include painted brake calipers in black or red or yellow; a racing exhaust; a track package with sport suspension and a choice of wheels, including the lovely five-hole forged aluminum ones you see in the gallery above, and rear parking sensors. Paint colors include variations of white, grey, red and black. Rosso Alfa is the clear(coat) winner.
Launch Edition cars are priced from $69,695 and come with bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, carbon fiber on the rear spoiler and side mirror caps, an aluminum rear diffuser, a sports exhaust, staggered 18-inch wheels up front and 19-inch wheels in the rear, red brake calipers, leather trim on the steering wheel and door innards, and a serialized dashboard plaque.
No matter what, you're deep into Stingray territory with any 4C, and a base Cayman is in trouble. But really, there's nothing quite like this wind-up two-seater, though a Cayman is eternally on our wish list.Fiat has big plans for Alfa Romeo's future. Despite the fact that they haven't been here in 20 years, expectations are high for it to transcend its current Lotus-like footprint--to become something more like Fiat Chrysler's Audi.
Alfa has a long way to go to reach those heights. It has to erase old memories, and create new ones.
The 4C’s a great place to start. It’s a dazzling reincarnation of a heady past, and a future classic in its own right.