What It Is:
Alfa Romeo’s return to the United States (again), this time with a mid-engined, rear-drive, two-seat sports car. Less than 13 feet long and shorter than a Lotus Evora, this half-pint successor to the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione has a carbon-fiber tub with front and rear aluminum substructures to facilitate collision repair. Alfa’s claimed curb weight of less than 2200 pounds should give it a thrilling thrust-to-weight ratio.
Why It Matters:
It’s a low-volume, high-style declaration that Alfas are more than just rebadged Fiats. The 4C will become the second modern Alfa (after the hyper-exotic 8C) that doesn’t share a platform with other Fiats. There were 500 copies each of the gorgeous $250,000 8C Competizione and $300,000 Spider, but Alfa will make as many as 2500 4Cs a year. Five-hundred Launch Editions will lead the charge in the U.S.
Developed by Dallara Automobili in Italy, the 4C platform may be unique, but it will draw some hardware from the Alfa Giulietta/Dodge Dart platform, including brake and steering components. Dallara also engineered the chassis for the KTM X-Bow, and rumor has it that there are commonalities. Both, for example, have wheelbases in the 94-to-96-inch range.
A new 1.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with an aluminum block and head generates 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque; a future higher-performance 4C could get as much as 270 horsepower. Regardless, the only transmission option is the six-speed dual-clutch automatic from the Giulietta.
Audi TTS, Chevrolet Corvette, Lotus Evora, Porsche Cayman.
What Might Go Wrong:
The cost of carbon fiber hasn’t dropped as rapidly as Alfa hoped, so it can’t price the 4C below $60,000. Costwise, it will go up against a loaded Porsche Cayman or even a low-end 911 Carrera, rather than the entry-level Boxster that was its original target. So you see the problem.
Estimated Arrival and Price:
Production starts this May at Maserati’s Modena, Italy, plant. The first Alfa 4Cs will be sent to the U.S. market with an estimated $86,000 sticker.