2017 Alfa Romeo 4C

2017 Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe Review

The 2017 Alfa Romeo 4C is an unconventional sports car that is easy to love but hard to live with.
3 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

Are modern sports cars too heavy and pandering for your liking? If so, Alfa Romeo's got just the car: the 4C. Lithe and raw, the 4C is pretty much a race car with some licence plate brackets bolted on. But the eschewing of comfort might be too much, even for driving enthusiasts.

Like the old Lotus Elise, the 2017 Alfa 4C treats the driver as an integral cog in the machine rather than a passenger sitting for a ride-along. There's a little bit of leather here and there, but the primary attraction is the carbon-fiber monocoque. The chassis material is not only incredibly strong but also fantastically lightweight, so the 4C weighs only a couple hundred pounds more than a Miata. It's also significantly quicker thanks to a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. These aren't monumental power figures for a two-seater hailing from Italy, but it's pretty impressive considering the engine displaces just 1.75 liters. The combination of robust power and low weight makes the 4C feel just as quick as its big brothers from Maserati and Ferrari.

The downside, though, is that the 4C ignores comfort just as readily as the Elise once did. This is definitely a weekend car as the tight cabin is uncomfortable to get into, get out of and stay in for any length of time. Anything you store in the tiny trunk will warm up quickly because it's situated right next to the mid-mounted engine. And you'll need the number of a good chiropractor, considering the ride and barely padded seats will have you aching in places you didn't know you had muscles. But the right kind of person will be able to live with the 2017 Alfa Romeo 4C's many drawbacks and enjoy a car that has no peers in this price range, or perhaps any.



what's new

Changes to the 2017 Alfa Romeo 4C are relatively minor. A carbon-fiber roof, an Akrapovic dual-mode exhaust and additional wheel designs are all newly available. The coupe can now be ordered with the seven-speaker sound system.

we recommend

The 4C comes in just one trim, so it's up to you whether to get the coupe or convertible. The price difference between the two is significant, but the convertible comes standard with leather seats and the alarm system. The view out the back is nearly nonexistent, so we strongly encourage opting for the Convenience package just to get the rear parking sensors (a rearview camera is not offered). If you want a more robust sound from your baby Ferrari's pipes, the high-end Akrapovic exhaust allows dual-mode operation in contrast to the always-loud sport exhaust option.

trim levels & features

The 2017 Alfa Romeo 4C should only be considered by buyers willing to live with the inherent day-to-day difficulties of driving a seriously hardcore mid-engined sports car. Its no-frills attitude is reflected in its skimpy list of standard and optional features. After all, more stuff makes for a heavier car, and the 4C is all about keeping the weight down. If you should want a few extras, the Convenience package adds a few luxury elements, the Track package includes performance upgrades and the Carbon Fiber Interior Trim package is self-explanatory.

The 4C is powered by a 1.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque) paired to a quick-shifting, six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission sending power to the rear wheels. Standard equipment for the coupe includes a 17-inch (front) and 18-inch (rear) wheels, summer performance tires, LED running lights and taillights, heated mirrors, air-conditioning, power accessories, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 7-inch driver information display, Bluetooth connectivity and an Alpine sound system with a CD player, a USB port and satellite and HD radio. The 4C convertible also has a manually operated soft top, leather seats and an alarm system.

The leather seats are optional on the coupe, and leather seats with faux-suede upholstery are available on both body styles. An optional Convenience package adds rear parking sensors, cruise control and, for the coupe, the alarm system. The Track package includes a more stiffly tuned suspension, available 18-inch (front) and 19-inch (rear) wheels, a flat-bottom steering wheel and additional carbon-fiber exterior trim. Additional carbon-fiber styling elements are included with the Carbon Fiber Interior Trim package. Notable stand-alone options include xenon headlights, a subwoofer, a carbon fiber roof, a sport exhaust and a Akrapovic dual-mode exhaust.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe (1.7L 4-cyl. turbo; 6-speed dual-clutch automatic).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Alfa Romeo 4C has received some revisions, including an upgraded standard sound system and the availability of an Akrapovic dual-mode exhaust system in 2017. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Alfa Romeo 4C.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.0 / 5.0

Driving

5.0 / 5.0

Acceleration4.5 / 5.0
Braking5.0 / 5.0
Steering5.0 / 5.0
Handling5.0 / 5.0
Drivability3.0 / 5.0

Comfort

2.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort2.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort2.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration2.0 / 5.0

Interior

2.0 / 5.0

Ease of use2.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out2.0 / 5.0
Roominess2.5 / 5.0
Visibility1.0 / 5.0
Quality4.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
Performance is the primary mission of the 2017 Alfa Romeo 4C, especially equipped with the Track package and high-performance tires. As such, this 4C is at or near the front of the pack for acceleration, braking, steering and handling. Everyday drivability suffers for the same reasons, though.

acceleration

edmunds rating
Turbocharging a small engine sometimes produces surging acceleration, but not in the 4C. The four-cylinder has excellent urban manners along with Corvette-challenging speed. Zero to 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds is darn quick.

braking

edmunds rating
The rare, bottom-hinged brake pedal gives an extremely firm feel, has a short travel and operates much like a race car's. You'll need to press firmly, but the action is positive and reassuring. Our 4C came to a halt from 60 mph in 104 feet. That's short, but some rival sports cars do even better.

steering

edmunds rating
The steering has zero power assist, so it gives crisp, precise and extremely informative responses at speed. For a sports car, there's nothing better. But the low-speed heaviness, especially when parking, will be a problem for some.

handling

edmunds rating
A Dynamic-mode stability control, lightweight body and chassis construction, mid-engine layout, sticky tires, and race-car-like steering and suspension provide uniquely dynamic handling qualities that few cars, even exotics, can match.

drivability

edmunds rating
Both the engine and the quick-shifting dual-clutch transmission are surprisingly easy to live with, even in traffic. But the ultra-loud sport exhaust and exceptionally firm suspension (both optional) will grow tiresome quickly.

comfort

edmunds rating
If you're looking for a comfortable sports car, run elsewhere. The 2017 Alfa Romeo 4C, especially when optioned with the purposefully stiff suspension and loud exhaust found on our test car, isn't easy to live with. An example of this: There are no armrests anywhere in the car.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
Driver and passenger seatbacks are essentially fixed and don't recline beyond about 90 degrees, so you'll either fit in this Alfa or you don't. Padding is minimal, but it's in the right spots. A lack of elbow rests means sore shoulders on long drives.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
The 4C's stiff suspension is great on a racetrack, but it makes for a harsh ride and highway groove-following dartiness. A lot of rival sports cars come with adaptive/adjustable suspension damping to help smooth out the ride, but it's not available on the 4C.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
Purposefully built with bare-bones lightweight materials and minimal sound insulation (plus the optional exhaust), this Alfa is one of the loudest cars we've ever tested whether at idle, cruising or especially at full throttle.

interior

edmunds rating
The Alfa Romeo 4C's interior features barely tolerable ergonomics, clumsy entry and exit, little legroom, appalling outward visibility, and virtually no cargo or storage space. This is absolutely not a daily driver.

ease of use

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Eccentricities abound, with a strange audio head unit (with a detachable face), confusing instrument panel and arduous trip-meter reset protocol. Some controls are marginally easier to operate, such as the window switches, push-button transmission selector and drive-mode rocker.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
Because the carbon-fiber monocoque passenger compartment requires wide doorsills, the 4C is the kind of car you fall into and climb or hoist yourself out of. To make matters more difficult, the doors lack intermediate and end stops.

roominess

edmunds rating
Compared to those of similar sports cars, the Alfa Romeo's cabin has a sense of open space with a low dash and ample headroom. For those over 6 feet tall, however, there's little legroom in either seat.

visibility

edmunds rating
The view through the windshield is excellent, but the small windows, side mirrors, essentially useless rearview mirror and enormous blind spots make it a challenge in the real world. Optional rear parking sensors are a must, especially because there's no rearview camera available.

quality

edmunds rating
Some buttons feel embarrassingly flimsy, but the 4C's chassis is constructed like a race car with beautiful handlaid carbon fiber and aluminum cradles front and rear. That alone is worth the base car's price.

utility

edmunds rating
The minuscule cargo area is located adjacent to the hot engine and under the rear glass. There are two useless cupholders and basically no in-car storage aside from a stretchy net under the dash instead of a glovebox and a lockable pouch behind the center armrest.

technology

edmunds rating
Like most practical aspects of the 4C, the four-speaker sound system is a no-frills affair. You get Bluetooth, a USB port, and HD and satellite radio. Cruise control is an optional extra, included in the Convenience package along with rear parking sensors and an alarm system.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.