Exotic. Italian. Sexy. Quick. Nimble. Priced under $70,000. The Alfa Romeo 4C ticks all of these boxes. And a whole bunch more.

In the performance per dollar world—or performance per pound—the Alfa Romeo 4C is a flyweight that punches with the heavyweights. No, it won’t knock the Corvette Stingray Z51 off its power perch, or scamper away from a Nissan GT-R in a stop-light drag race, but it will hang with either when the roads turn twisty, while looking better than either car or the dates in their passenger seats.

Stunning is the only way to describe the Alfa’s exterior. Graceful curves, athletic swells, artful attention to detail—it all comes together in the 4C’s exterior design in a way that commands attention from both the cognoscenti and the otherwise oblivious public.

If you’re not a fan of having your picture—or at least your car’s—taken everywhere you go, you won’t like the 4C. Because it draws that much admiration.

For the driver inside the 4C, however, the admiration runs much more than skin deep. Manual steering, a light, 2,495-pound curb weight, and a willing and rowdy 1.75-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine packing 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque combine in the 4C to deliver a revelatory level of feel and engagement.

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C

In our first drive review, we noted this near-exotic combination of style and ability:

“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 price tag on it, and it would look authentic except at the front, where the beaky overbite sets the Alfa tone.”

A pint-sized Ferrari for a fraction of the price? Sign us up.

Sure, there are some rough edges to a car so obsessively focused on light weight and minimalist performance, but those concessions to physics and price tags are, ultimately, endearing, rather than annoying.

More than any other car on our nominees list, the Alfa Romeo 4C is an experience, every time you hunker down and slide across the wide, bare-carbon sill into the snug sport seats. It’s not just something you own, it’s a way of life—at least for the precious minutes and hours you spend driving it.

Will that be enough to see the 4C through against the heady competition on our 15-deep nominees list? Find out November 10th when we announce the winner, and be sure to follow along with each of the nominees on our Best Car To Buy 2015 page.

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