Automotive journalists around the world have poured into Turin to finally try the new 4C sports car, and everyone wants to know one thing: Was it worth the wait? Knowing Alfa Romeo and the recent mismanagement of the brand, it is easy to be a little bit sceptical. Is this the car that can really save the fallen brand?
Well, judging by the first impression, we can say without any hesitation, yes. Alfa Romeo is alive and well, we can turn off the life support machine.
Any reader of Italian Car Scene should by now know the basics of the car, but let’s revise them once again: Conceived as a concept in 2010, the 4C was supposed to be a so-called “halo car” for Alfa, something that will probably make little profit, but will be beneficial for the image of the brand. Think of it as an Audi R8 – low volume, high price, but great image. Admittedly, Alfa has had its R8 moment with the 8C but 500 examples can only make it a sought after collector’s item.
Other than that, the 4C is a more realistic representation of Alfa Romeo than the 8C. After all, small, light, nimble and sexy is what Alfa should be, whereas the 8C was probably a bit too much Ferrari-esque for its own good.
At a relatively affordable price (around $55,000), Alfa promises stunning looks, 4.5 second 0 – 60 time and proper mid-engined car handling. Think Porsche Cayman but without the trashy, brash image. Or Lotus Exige for normal people.
Judging by the comments, it does deliver: “Thanks to the lightness, the wide track, the chassis rigidity, the low centre of gravity and lack of overhangs – plus all-independent suspension and the fact that a bunch of hard-driving Italian engineers have given it death in places like Alfa’s famous Balocco test track – the 4C’s roadholding and ride quality are just brilliant”, says Autocar. They do however say that the Cayman is more grown up, but judging by the tone, the 4C sounds more fun.
EVO is also impressed by the capabilities on the track, where it exhibits more “race car feel than the Cayman” and “feels worth every penny”. The basic Cayman is a bit cheaper though, but the exclusivity of the little Alfa (only 3500 a year will be made) more than justifies that price. The Lotus Exige V6 is a whole Fiat 500 Abarth more expensive.
Fun fact: The 4C is (like its older brother 8C) made by Maserati in their factory in Modena. Not that the car needs more desirability, but still, it’s nice to know and to let others know.
Even better, in the US, the 4C will be sold in Maserati dealerships, but only 1200 lucky customers will be able to get one. Admittedly, the competition is rather scarce: Caymans are popular with the cast of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (rumour has it that Honey Boo Boo wants one for her sweet sixteen) and the Exige hasn’t been imported to the States in a while.
The bottom-line is here rather simple: The 4C is a great car. It’s fun, capable and above all, it looks spectacular. Better still, you can own one, if you are quick enough.
But what about the other Alfas?
Sadly, Alfa Romeo currently makes two different models: The small MiTo and the compact Giulietta, both reasonably popular in Europe (although not breaking any records) and the new Spider is being tested as we speak. Jalopnik says that the brand will expand with no less than six new models which we will discuss in the following weeks, starting with the Spider which will share its platform with the already acclaimed Mazda MX-5.
But the role of the 4C is more than fulfilled: People are talking about it, the internet is buzzing and the press loves it. Does it get better? It may not be a big seller or a common sight on the road, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the limited production numbers are more than spot on because it keeps the car desirable and exclusive.
Cars like the Giulietta and Mito are always welcome, but they failed to resurrect the interest in the brand, something the 4C has greatly done, even though it is twice the price of a Giulietta. Let’s put it this way: The 4C is the kind of car you would put as your wallpaper picture, but realistically, you can have in your driveway. And praise doesn’t get higher than that. Still, for now though, check out our amazing gallery for the mentioned wallpaper.