I was lucky enough to go on the media drive programs for both the Alfa Romeo 4C and the 4C Spider. Held at Sonoma Raceway and Laguna Seca, respectively, my time in both versions of Alfa Romeo's pocket supercar was pure, unadulterated fun.
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However, that was on great racetracks and twisty California roads. What's it like to live with as a means of daily transportation? Luckily, a $73,395 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider showed up at my doorstep a few days ago and I got the opportunity to find out. Here are a few thoughts of mine after taking on the mean streets of Chicago in this tiny Italian sports car.
It's about as much fun as you can have behind the wheel.
Find the right road, and you will likely have more fun in the Alfa Romeo 4C than any car you've ever driven. The manual steering is race-car quick and it provides a stunning amount of feedback. This flyweight sticks to the road like glue, accelerates with authority despite only 1.75 liters of power, and gives the driver more information about how the car is reacting to the road surface than any sports car on the market. The Alfa Romeo 4C is the purest sports car on the road today, and the only car I've ever driven that comes close is the Lotus Elise.
It can be borderline torturous.
It's the little Alfa's purity that's also its biggest weakness. That manual steering requires Popeye's forearm strength in parking lots. The low-slung ride and carbon fiber tub structure make the Alfa the hardest car to get into and out of available today (at least it's better with the top off). The ride height also makes every car's headlights look like brights as they shine in your eyes, and the tall rear deck means rear visibility is limited, even with the top off. The stiffly sprung suspension creates a buckboard ride that doesn't mix well with Chicago's cratered streets. There's no room in the thing, for people or cargo, and the interior materials are cut-rate. This hot-blooded Italian just isn't domesticated.
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2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is a better choice than its coupe sibling because it offers the fun of open-air driving without giving up handling. However, I can't see buying one. I'd love it as a track car or as a weekend toy if I lived in an area with good roads. But I live in Chicago, where potholes hold their annual convention, and the stiff, harsh, loud, low Alfa is just too brutal for this environment.
I love this car. I really do, but I'll give up some of its sports car purity for the more livable character of the Porsche Cayman/Boxster or Chevrolet Corvette and spend roughly the same money.
Maybe the problem is me. I should move to an area with decent roads.