What is it?
2014 Alfa Romeo 4C
What's special about it?
It felt like everyone was an Alfa fan at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show. All three of the 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C coupes in the sweaty booth were mobbed for hours. Had Alfa officials not made the prudent but unpopular decision to leave the cars locked such that no one could try the cockpit of this midengine sports car on for size, people would have remained in Hall 5 overnight. If this turnout was any kind of bellwether for the general public's enthusiasm about the relaunch of the Alfa Romeo brand, it just might be a success.
Yet, it's important to remember that the 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C is very much a niche car. It's a short, two-seat car with a short wheelbase. It's built around a 143-pound carbon-fiber tub, and aluminum is used for the crash structures and roof supports. It weighs less than 2,000 pounds, and it has unassisted rack-and-pinion steering. Motivation comes exclusively from a turbocharged and direct-injected 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine rated at 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The 4C has a stellar weight-to-power ratio thanks to sheer lightness.
The engine is hooked up to a six-speed, dry dual-clutch automated manual transmission off Alfa's parts shelf. Paddle shifters are included, of course, and this is the only application of this gearbox that will have launch control. Suspension is all-independent, with double wishbones in front and struts in back. You'll be able to get a couple different tire packages — either 17-inch tires in front with 18s in back, or 18s in front and 19s in back. A Brembo brake package will also be available, and Alfa plans to sell a race package with a more aggressive suspension calibration and tires with enough stick for track use. Presumably, these available grippier tires are the source of the company's claim that the 4C will generate 1.1g on the skid pad.
Alfa is only planning for a production run of 3,500 units, of which 1,500 will go to Europe (starting in late September), 1,200 to North America (by the end of 2013) and the remaining 800 to the rest of the world.
At the press conference, Alfa officials announced that the first 400 cars sold in Europe and the first 500 in North America will be even more coveted Launch Edition models. These 4Cs will all be painted Carrara White or Alfa Red and feature bi-LED headlights, the track-themed suspension and a sport exhaust system. They'll also come with a voucher for a performance driving school.
Nobody ever turned down a free day of driving school, but if you're well off enough to buy a 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C, you probably can afford to go to Skip Barber any time you want. Pricing for the 4C Launch Edition starts at 60,000 euros in most of Europe and 75,000 Swiss francs in Switzerland. The Swiss franc is roughly comparable to the U.S. dollar these days, so when Alfa shows the U.S.-spec 4C this November at the 2013 L.A. Auto Show, prepare yourself for a price tag north of $70K.
Edmunds.com says: Hey, the Lotus Elise is back and it looks better than ever.
Base Price: $64,805
Engine: Midmounted, turbocharged and direct-injected, 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder
Gearbox: Six-speed, dry dual-clutch automated manual
Suspension: Independent double-wishbone (front), independent MacPherson strut (rear)
Steering: Manual rack-and-pinion
Power: 240 horsepower/258 pound-feet of torque
Claimed performance: 4.5 seconds to 100 km/h (62 mph), 155-mph top speed, 1.1g on skid pad (Launch Edition)
Dimensions: 157.1 inches long, 78.7 inches wide, 46.4 inches tall, 93.7-inch wheelbase
Curb Weight (manufacturer claim): 1,973 pounds
On-Sale Date: December 2013