“Spending a day with the gorgeous Alfa Romeo 4C is a bit like a hot date with Isabella Rossellini – you can’t quite believe your luck. And then all you want to do is stick the key in the slot, take it up the road and rev the proverbials off the little beauty.”
This, my friends, is the new Alfa Romeo 4C and it’s a really special sports car. Its gorgeous looks are inspired by racing Alfas, its turbocharged engine is mounted behind the driver like in a racing car and it produces more brake horses per litre than a Ferrari 458 Speciale. And despite a lightweight chassis made from exotic materials it will still cost you just £45k.
Alfa Romeo’s back catalogue is full of pretty cars and the 4C has the looks and must-have desirability to compete the best of them. A mix of old and new, the Alfa’s bodywork is wrapped tightly around a hi tech carbon-fibre chassis and the proportions are pure supercar. Yet at less than four metres long, the 4C is smaller than you’d expect and it sits low on the road. It’s as if Alfa Romeo’s designers forgot they have to fix a number plate on the nose, though the taut rear end takes its inspiration from the late ‘sixties 33 Stradale and the angular nose recalls Alfa’s recent 8C supercar.
From the moment you clamber into the 4C you’re in no doubt that this car is all about the driving experience. You sit low in the chassis, the pedals are perfectly placed and there’s a wide range of wheel movement. The car tips the scales at only 895kg (without fuel) and even the thickness of the glass has been reduced in the quest for lightness.
On the road it’s lots of fun. The 1.75-litre engine booms into life with a lot more volume than you’d expect from something so small and at low revs it bellows like a V8 Ferrari, before snarling and roaring like a turbocharged race car further up the range. Really! With so little weight to be shifted the engine feels powerful too and with 80% of the torque on tap from 1800 revs there’s meaty low-end punch, so you’re not forever grabbing gears in order to keep the engine singing.
For the petrol heads, the engine produces 240bhp at 6000rpm, in a very light chassis, so its power-to-weight ratio of 259bhp per tonne is something worth shouting about, putting many bigger engined supercars at more than twice the price to shame.
Small wonder that the Alfa Romeo 4C can top 155mph and sprint 0-62 mph in just 4.5 secs, while returning an amazing 41.5 mpg on the combined cycle. To put this into context, a Porsche Cayman costs a bit less, and goes a bit faster, but doesn’t accelerate as quickly and uses more fuel doing it.
Even if it’s not remembered as the car that saved Alfa Romeo, this is a future classic and one of the great sports cars of this age. You heard it here first.
On The Road Price: From £45,000.