Alfa Romeo’s final iteration of their rawest product, the mid-engined 4C, will bring the raw two-seater into the modern era without sacrificing the gritty driving for which it has always been intended. Consumers looking for something rarer than a Boxster or Cayman should pounce at the chance to enjoy a car the likes of which this industry may not again enjoy, at least not any time soon.
The little 4C brings an aggressive formed aero style to the market in a tight package with plenty of swooping lines and intake ducts all over. Compared to Alfa’s larger offerings (the Giulia sedan and Stelvia SUV) which are dominated by smooth exteriors more in line with the Italian manufacturer's historical design language, the 4C clearly sets itself apart as a lightweight sports car thanks to a focus on keeping the car low, taught, and balanced.
The original concept changed relatively few details on the 4C between its debut in March 2011 at the Geneva Motor Show and the production version’s release in 2013. For the time, a wide range of design details clearly delineated the intention for the 4C to lead both Alfa Romeo and the automotive industry as a whole in design and function— from angular venting to powerful haunches and head and taillights integrating multiple LED bulbs reminiscent of Le Mans racers.
The 4C’s entire body is constructed out of carbon fiber, mirrored by an entirely carbon fiber tub-style chassis, similar to the setups used in supercars and hypercars but at a price point more attainable for the general public. Overall, the 4C tips the scales right around 2,500 pounds. Large wheels are staggered in width and diameter front to rear, with a distinct Italian touch reminiscent of the Quadrifoglio.
Under The Hood
The heart of the Alfa Romeo 4C is its aluminum engine, a turbocharged 1.75-liter four-cylinder mounted transversely mounted behind the cabin, pumping 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels through a six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. Peak torque hits at 2,200 RPM, allowing for a 0-60 sprint of 4.2 seconds thanks to the 4C’s intense focus on keeping weight stats low and a center of gravity even lower.
The dual clutch trans features manual shifting, as well as three specific driving modes and launch control. Despite the car’s low mass, the engine is still dual-intercooled, and also utilizes fuel injection and variable valve timing. While older generations may lament the lack of a third pedal and stick shift, Alfa seems intent on keeping the focus more on handling prowess rather than outright power as the engine approaches its redline of 6,500 RPM. An optional sport-exhaust removes the muffler outright and allows the throaty turbo an easier exhale.
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Interior & Tech
As with many mid-mounted sports cars, and especially those on the smaller end of the spectrum— which the 4C clearly represents— the interior is cramped for even the average-sized driver. A low yet upright driver position comes by way of lightweight seats, with height adjustments coming by way of six Torx bolts rather than a simpler lever design. At least with the Targa top of the Spider open, feelings of claustrophobia can be minimized.
Still, Alfa’s design aesthetic carries through to the dash, seats, and center console. Most tactile surfaces are clad in carbon fiber accents serving as a reminder of the 4C’s advanced building materials. Gearshifts come by way of push buttons, while the entirely digital instrument screen is dominated by a centrally-displayed tachometer.
In terms of driver’s aids, the 4C stays borderline neanderthal— Alfa didn’t even bother adding power steering, which would have diminished the car’s overall road feel while adding significant bulk to the front end. A flat bottom steering wheel, meanwhile, reminds the driver that this car is meant for performance in the windy canyons — definitely not for daily commutes on rough city streets.
The 2019 4C does receive a few minor modern additions, including a backup camera, park sensors, and cruise control, however, though the coupe option goes out the window in favor of a strictly Spider lineup.
Pricing & Buying
Thanks to the additions mentioned above, the 2019 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider receives a price bump up to $66,900, or more than $10,000 above the current sticker for a coupe— though the coupe will continue on as an option in foreign markets.
Expect to see the 2019 4C in dealer showrooms later this year, but with the understanding that very few will be shipping anywhere at all. The little coupe’s dismal sales have been common knowledge since 2016 when only 309 cars sold, and the entire model will be discontinued by 2020. But that fact may mean that the 2019 iteration represents the 4C’s peak, or at least for consumers who want a slightly more utility-oriented version. But in reality, utility was never the 4C’s forte.
The escalating price for the 4C Spider places it into a strange territory where buyers might well be tempted by a Porsche 718 Boxsters and Caymans with a handful of additional performance options. Of course, the 4C’s luxury amenities can’t touch the Porches’, nor does its overall power, but the 4C is smaller, lighter, and the whole point is raw driving.