By on September 21, 2015

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Exterior-019

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

1.75-liter DOHC I-4, direct injection, turbocharged, CVVT (237 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 258 lbs-ft @ 2,200-4,250 rpm)

6-speed “Alfa TCT” dual-clutch automatic

24 city/34 highway/28 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

28.1 (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: Rosso Alfa Red paint, Fascia Stone Protector, HID Headlamps, Carbon Fibre Trim Kit, Convenience Package, Racing Exhaust, Red Calipers, 18/19 Inch Staggered Wheels, Leather Package,

Base Price:
$65,495*
As Tested:

$72,295*

* Prices include $1,595 destination charge.

Up ’til now, if you wanted an Italian, mid-engined, street-legal track roadster made out of exotic materials, you needed to be a one-percenter to afford one. But all that is changing with the relaunch of the “other Italian brand,” Alfa Romeo. For the price of a single black-market organ “donation” you can get your hands on the new 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider. Unlike Alfa’s last car sold in America — the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione — the 4C Spider is pronounceable, will be available in quantity, and is ostensibly attainable at $53,900 for the coupé and $63,900 for the rag top that we got our hands on.

Like the hardtop 4C, this exotic isn’t an enormous bruiser that’s as wide as Kansas, and it doesn’t have a V12. Instead Alfa opted for a small four-cylinder turbocharged engine and a serious dedication to lightweight construction. In some ways you might call this the Italian Lotus. Until we see the 2017 Alfa Romeo Guilia, FCA’s 3-Series fighter, the 4C and 4C Spider are spearheading the brand’s American reboot.

Is that good or bad?

Exterior
If you don’t think the 4C is beautiful, you don’t have a soul. Sure, it’s not as edgy as a modern Lamborghini or Ferrari, but that wouldn’t be Alfa Romeo’s style. The 4C wears Alfa’s latest corporate front end with the signature triangular grille and large openings on either side for optimum cooling. Since this is a mid-engined vehicle, the 4C’s nose is slammed as close to the ground as possible and the cooling ducts behind the doors are fully functional. If I had to complain about anything, then I would say I’m a little sad that less attention seems to have been spent on the rear. The rear bumper cover looks to have been hastily tweaked for North America’s license plate format by inserting two “blanks” on either side of the plate.

If you couldn’t tell by the pictures, this Alfa is very small for a modern mid-engined Italian. At 157.5 inches long, the Alfa slots between the current 2-door and 4-door MINI Cooper. That’s two feet shorter than a Ferrari 488 Spider. It’s also very low to the ground with a roof height measuring in right around four feet.

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Exterior-028

Going topless almost always adds weight. However, the 4C’s carbon fibre monocoque comes to the rescue of ragtop performance lovers. Despite structural changes that had to be made, the Spider is just 22 pounds heavier than the coupé. The reason is largely because the chassis was designed for topless motoring from the start. Because the carbon fibre tub is so rigid, little additional structure needed to be added for the Spider model. In addition, some weight was saved by giving the Spider a plastic rear hatch and not the glass and plastic version we see in the hard top.

Our tester carried a manufacturer estimated curb weight of 2,487 pounds, 342 pounds heavier than the European model, but still anorexic by American standards. The weight difference is found in a thicker carbon fibre tub, required side impact airbags, standard air conditioning, an adjustable passenger seat and the EPA’s requirement that curb weight be based on options that have at least a 33-percent take rate. In reality, the difference between a similarly configured Euro and American model is smaller than that 342 pounds because of the way the numbers are calculated. That said, make no mistake the American 4C has scarfed down a few more meatballs than its Italian cousin. The astute in the crowd will note this is actually 195 pounds heavier than a new Mazda MX-5. The weight difference is likely due to the mid-engine design, turbocharger and plumbing, larger brakes, wider tires and stouter cooling system. Fear not, the 4C still makes the Porsche Cayman seem like a pig at 2,955 pounds.

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Interior-003

Interior
Although “creature comforts” like air conditioning and an adjustable passenger seat are part of the American weight gain, the 4C’s cabin is still best described as “built to a weight.” That means that descriptions like “thickly padded” and “comfortable” really don’t apply to this cabin. The seats themselves are likely the thinnest car seats I have ever seen. Although they do “recline,” the range of motion is only a few degrees. Yep, total travel of maybe one inch. Of course, if you’re my height (six feet tall) then your seat is likely going to be pushed all the way back limiting the recline anyway. If you’re a taller person, you may have trouble getting comfortable. The driver’s seat technically adjusts for height, however, it is a manual process that involves removing and reinstalling some bolts and not something you can do on the go. At my height, with the seat already at the lowest (I checked the bolts), the top 20 percent of the LCD instrument cluster is obscured by the steering wheel. On the flip side, when I called an Alfa dealer and asked, they claimed that more adjustment could be made if I were to buy the car. Despite the thin padding and the fact that you’re sitting almost at a 90 degree angle on the ground, I found the 4C to me more comfortable than the Scion FR-S.

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Interior-001

Minimalist is the best way to describe the rest of the interior. The leather dashboard our model wore is optional but a worthy upgrade as it does improve the look of the cabin considerably. Aside from the snazzy dash there is little traditional luxury going on and that saves weight. Alfa even ditches the traditional glove compartment for a small square compartment behind and between the seats that is just large enough for a wallet and Rubik’s cube.

That also applies to the trunk. Unlike the Tesla or Porsche models, the 4C does not sport a “frunk.” What looks like a hood in the 4C is screwed into place in order to save weight. That means the small rear trunk aft of the engine is your only option. Featuring a prop rod rather than heavier struts, the rear lid serves as engine cover and trunk lid. The cargo well is big enough to fit a fat 24-inch roller bag (maximum size for domestic carry-on) and the tire inflator. That’s it. You should know two things about this. First, your luggage can get a bit toasty back there, so don’t put a case of fancy chocolates in the back unless you want them melted. Second, with a single bag in the back, there is no place to put the top when you take it off, other than handing it to your passenger. Thankfully the canvas top is small and light, but because the 4C’s cabin is so small it felt like there was a third person in the car with us. On the bright side, with the top off, the 4C is so loud I could not hear the complaints from my navigator.

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Interior-018

Infotainment
What infotainment? In the relentless pursuit of weight loss, the 4C doesn’t use any of FCA’s uConnect systems. Instead you find an aftermarket-style Alpine single DIN head unit in the dash. This means it is easy to upgrade if you so desire, but it also means you don’t get factory navigation or the same sort of vehicle integration you find in most cars that sticker north of $70,000. Our model had the optional premium sound system which again suffers from the weight limits imposed by the engineers. Subwoofers and large speaker magnets add weight, so there’s a distinct lack of bass punch in the 4C.

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Engine-002

Drivetrain
The 4C is powered by a 1.75-liter engine with direct injection. That displacement may not sound impressive, but thanks to a big turbo that spools up to 21.7 psi of boost, power figures come in at 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. If you think the small displacement and big turbo are a recipe for turbo lag, you’d be right. All 258 lb-ft are available from 2,200-4,250 rpm, but from 1,000-1,600(ish) rpm there is precious little happening.

The lag would be a problem in a heavier car, or a car with fewer charms, but in the 4C the 6-speed dual clutch transaxle keeps the engine in the right rev range and the Race mode allows quicker starts. The Alfa 6-speed “TCT” is actually related to what we find in the Dodge Dart and other Fiat Chrysler front-wheel-drive cars. Internally, there are essentially two manual transmissions, one handles the even gears and the other does the odds. Switching from one gear to the other is a simple matter of releasing one clutch while engaging the other, making this type of transmission lightning fast compared to a traditional automatic. For 4C duty, Alfa fiddled with the gear ratios, rotated it 180 degrees from its usual applications and jammed it behind the seats.

At this time there’s just the one engine, although there are plenty of rumors about a 2.0-liter turbo. However, you can select from three different exhaust systems. The base system has a teeny-tiny muffler and it is fairly loud in its own right. Then there’s the optional $500 “Sport exhaust” that our model had. Sport exhaust is a bit of a stretch to be honest since what you’re really doing is paying $500 to have the muffler removed. That’s right, our 4C had no muffler. No resonator. No exhaust valves. Exhaust just passes from the engine to the turbo to the catalytic converter and then straight out the pipes. Available later will be a dynamic exhaust system from Akrapovič which should offer you the ability to be loud when you want and a little more sedate when you need it.

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Exterior-012

Drive
What? I can’t hear you over the engine! That’s a phrase I repeated frequently when there was a passenger in the car. That’s because the 4C sports no carpet (floor mats screw directly to the carbon fibre tub), essentially no sound deadening of any kind, thin glass and the 1.75-liter, turbocharged engine is only about 4 inches away from your head. And there’s that “no-muffler” business going on. The result is fantastic when you’re canyon carving but considerably less fantastic on a long road trip or a daily commute. Also a victim of the 4C’s aggressive weight loss campaign are sound deadening foam and carpet, which means you can hear just about everything the engine and wheels are up to while in motion. On the flip side, the 4C reminds you just how isolated most cars are these days and just how soft we have become as a people. The 4C allows you to hear everything that the engine, turbo and tires are doing, something that purists will certainly enjoy. Even I, the perpetual pragmatist, was lured by the siren sound of a small turbocharged engine blaring as it popped, hissed and snarled as it whipped itself to 60 mph in 4.15 seconds.

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Exterior-013

If you’ve never driven a car without power steering, it will be hard to explain what’s going on in the 4C. You should just visit the Alfa dealer and try one for yourself. For the rest of us this is almost a window in time. Although the standard 205/45R17 front tires may not sound terribly wide, parallel parking maneuvers require some upper body strength. (Hoping in my Jeep with its overboosted steering made me feel like a wimp.) The front rubber can be that narrow because just 41 percent of the car’s weight sits on the front axle, giving the Alfa a Porsche-like weight balance. The key thing to know is that the steering wheel diameter is small and the rack takes just 2.7 turns to go from one bump stop to the other. The quick ratio and small wheel take some getting used to on the highway where the light front gives the car a go-kart like eagerness to turn in. Alfa’s steering rack and front suspension combine to give you quite simply the best steering feel on a new car in America. Unlike a modern Porsche or BMW with power steering, you can actually feel what the car is doing. Also different than basically every other car on the market, this steering wheel fights back. If you check out the embedded video, in the drive section you can see how much motion is coming back through the steering rack when driven on a less-than-perfect mountain road. The difference is stark when driven back to back. The Alfa makes a Porsche’s steering rack feel numb and lazy. Bottom line: steering feel nerds will have a cargasm.

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Exterior-024

As stiff as the 4C’s suspension is, it rarely felt upset on broken pavement, something that could not be said of last week’s Mercedes GLA. Now, don’t confuse a well-sorted suspension design with a comfortable one. The 4C’s suspension is harsh. You can feel every bump in the road in the standard suspension tune, and opting for the track package and up-sized wheels (our model had the up-size wheels but not the track-tuned dampers) allows you feel every pebble in the road. The suspension is so stiff that the vibrations in the road actually made filming difficult. Couple that with thinly padded seats and you have a car designed for weekend motoring, not daily commuting. This is again a contrast from something like a Boxster or Cayman which are designed with daily-driving comforts in mind and an owner set that is more interested in knowing the car is track capable than actually taking their car on a track.

Perhaps the most impressive engineering feat of the 4C is the chassis stiffness. On the flip side, there is the reality that some chassis flex can help give a car a more forgiving ride. You’d think that the lightweight construction would yield better stopping distances. However, it actually takes a little longer to go from 60 to zero than most versions of the Corvette or the Cayman and Boxster thanks to the narrower tires on the Alfa.

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Exterior-003

At $72,295 for an almost fully-loaded 4C, the Alfa isn’t just a hoot and a half, it is almost a “deal.” Bargain hunters should also know that the rumor mill is saying 4C transaction prices have actually been below MSRP. Since Lotus can’t sell their wares on our shores at the moment, there is truly no direct competition. Even when Lotus returns in the 2017 model year with the $89,900 Evora 400, it still won’t be the same kind of car as the 4C. The Evora will weigh around 700 pounds more, have a V6 in the back and it appears to have a more luxurious and comfortable interior. Porsche doesn’t really offer a competitor despite having cars with a similar weight balance. Based on 0-60 times, the Porsche corollaries would be the $82,100 Boxster Spyder that’s 450 pounds heavier and the hard top Cayman GT4 at $84,600 and a little more than 500 pounds heavier.

The trouble is, neither of the Porsches is like the Alfa. Despite their performance mission, they can be had with 2-zone climate control, power seats, a garage door opener, touchscreen navigation, a six-disc CD changer, speakers loud enough to hear, an adaptive suspension and yes, even a muffler. It’s the fanatical dedication to slashing weight that makes the 4C such a compromise to live with, yet so endearing. The 4C is the first car I’ve met that bruises my kidneys yet had me coming back for more every time. (Of course, if I sold the kidney to buy the 4C then I wouldn’t have that problem anymore.)

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Interior-015

The only trouble I see with the 4C is that, despite the fun-to-drive factor, the market for such a car is incredibly small. The fact that your rear end is skidding only 5 inches above the tarmac is another problem. Although I said this jokingly at the time, this may be my best summation: If you’re 30 years old, buy one. If you’re 40, you need to hurry. If you’re 50, you need to know there’s a chance you’ll get in but be unable to get back out when you reach your destination. TTAC tip: Get the Spider so Jeeves can lift you out.

Is the 4C practical? No. Is it worth it? Maybe not. Do I want one? Yes, but I have no idea why.

Alfa Romeo provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 1.7

0-60: 4.15

1/4 Mile: 12.6 @ 108

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83 Comments on “2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Review (With Video)...”


  • avatar

    Since you didn’t mention it, the 4C must be easier to get into (and out of) than a Lotus Elise.

  • avatar

    I like the spider better than the coupe, although the design suffers from too many lines. “At this time there’s just the one engine, although there are plenty of rumors about a 2.0-liter turbo.” One thing is for sure, it won’t be the 2 liter turbo diesel by Volkswagen.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “Unlike Alfa’s last car sold in America — the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione”

    Thank you so much. Generally, journalists deny Alfa has sold -anything- here since they left in 1995. It makes for better hyperbolic and vapid headlines. I wanna punch em when I read it.

    So this thing is terribly impractical, rather expensive, and you pay more for all the things they didn’t bother to put in the car. It WILL be fragile/brittle, and few will be able to service it. And you get the satisfaction of spending $70,000 on a car and looking at a $249 Best Buy head unit.

    Lotus makes featherweight, simple machines because they’re a small company in England with 70 employees or whatever. Alfa Romeo does the same because they don’t have any money.

    Sorry, I think not. Even if I had frivolous money to blow, I’d spend it on something nice. Small market indeed!

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      “It WILL be fragile/brittle, and few will be able to service it.”

      Not convinced about that. The engine and transmission have been used in Europe before, and they aren’t all that different from what we get in various Fiats, Dodge Darts and Jeeps. Other than the powertrain, there’s not much to break.
      People made the same predictions about Fiat, but the cars have been OK so far. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 4C turns out to be average or better for its category.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Hopefully you’re right. I want Italian cars to be as reliable as at least American ones, if not Japanese.

        Are you sure about Fiat quality though? They fall to the bottom of every survey, below Land Rover.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          True, but “bottom of the barrel” today would probably translate to “supremely reliable” back in the day when Fiats were sold here last.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Their reliability issues have been mostly entertainment systems.

          The 500 uses a Microsoft system that takes forever to read song lists, can’t reliably connect to more than one phone, is unable to read address books, and has a slow, un-intuitive interface. A senior Jeep/Ram tech tells me they’ve had no issues with the running gear, but lots with the radio and a few with squeaks and rattles (trim).

          This Alfa will probably rattle, but it’s a loud car to begin with.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh, and don’t forget about the 500L, which has failed in the hands of journalists even.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            I remember Jack said the 500L HVAC controls were wobbly (or something to that effect). I don’t remember any actual failures. Which publication was this?

            A good friend has a 500L. She has a very long commute and loves the thing, although she would probably get a bigger SUV if fuel burn wasn’t a concern. Last I heard she hasn’t had any reliability issues.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Let me get back to you, I swear I’m not making that up.

            Edit: It failed in the review… with Jack.

            “And then the engine quit.

            For at least five seconds, I just sat there with my mouth open. As someone who races a variety of Lemons-spec cars across the country and who once owned a 1980 Mercury Marquis, I am no stranger to the phenomenon known as “failure to proceed”, but in a 2014-model automobile with 4000 miles on the clock?

            I re-selected Park, twisted the switchblade key in the ignition, and the car caught before dying yet again!

            A third time was the charm, but throughout the weekend, the Fiat would often indicate it’s reluctance to run in the ninety-five-degree Texas weather by cutting out once or twice when started cold, always starting by the third try.”

          • 0 avatar
            Chan

            Another 500L here, coming up on 20k miles and no issues so far except for poor battery drain (car must be put on a tender if not driven for > 1 week).

            I’m not expecting Corolla reliability, but today’s Fiat powertrains are holding up just fine both here (US) and in Europe.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            Corey,

            That’s a rental review, not an official review. That car obviously had a problem, but who knows what it was, or why it happened.

            Did some renter top it up with bad Mexican gas? Did a car attendant power-wash the fuse box? Did someone run the battery down charging power tools all weekend, then give it a quick boost?

            No-starts don’t seem to be a common complaint on those. Word would get out.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            That’s fair, RE: rental review. However, consumer reports ranked it their LEAST reliable vehicle, from their least reliable brand.

            http://www.businessinsider.com/consumer-reports-says-this-is-the-worst-car-around-2014-10

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            Yes, Blue and Me issues, a squeaky driver’s seat and a fast running clock. As for Consumer Reports, I haven’t forgotten a neighbor who bought a Ford Cortina on their recommendation and then cursed them for years afterward after it caught fire during the first year of ownership and burned most of his house down.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          “The engine and transmission have been used in Europe before, and they aren’t all that different from what we get in various Fiats, Dodge Darts and Jeeps”

          Just this year I’ve seen a brand new Cherokee being towed, a Chrysler 200 on the site of the road, ditto a brand new Dart.

          Consider me a skeptic of Fiats latest drivetrains.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            And those are the only three cars you’ve seen towed, or parked beside the road all year?

            Well, I’m convinced. Thanks Ryoku. Keep me posted if you see anything else.

            BTW, how did you know the Dart was “brand new”?

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            At Heavy:

            Nope, I’ve seen many others but these are the only new-ish ones (5 years or less)

            The Dart and Chrysler 200 were broken down on the highway, I have no clue if either were “brand new”, they didnt appear to have flat tires or anything.

            The Cherokee was dark gray (like ALL CUVSUVs), looked like it just came off the lot, I couldnt tell you what was wrong with it either.

            I also caught fairly new Mustang broken down on the highway, had the “Fusion face: and all, but thats the only newish Ford I’ve seen on the side.

            I should mention that I’m not all that biased toward or away brands, for every broken Oldsmobile Intrigue I’ll see a Toyota Corolla, or even a Saab on occasion.

            Seems like most of the issues are related to the transmission:
            http://www.consumeraffairs.com/automotive/jeep.htm

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            Ryoku,

            Early 500Ls had automated manual transmissions, which can seem a bit rough. Starting in 2015 they went to a torque converter automatic which cost them in fuel economy, but probably helped them meet customer expectations better.

            This brings-up a general problem with CR-type “reliability” ratings. A loose piece of trim scores the same as a blown engine, or a Bluetooth menu that’s a bit confusing.

            A tech I know well says that part of “reliability issues” can be blamed on owner psychology. In his experience, the average Toyota owner won’t complain if the brakes are shaking like a paint mixer, seat foam has collapsed, paint is peeling off, and the steering wheel has delaminated. Mercedes owners complain if the seat leather doesn’t match the door handles.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            At Heavy:

            Imo a bad UI isnt a even a “reliability” issue, its just bad design, you have a good point where trim will score equal with bad engines. Guess the real score depends on whos paying for ad space.

            I agree that psychology is a huge factor, when I see an older Benz it’ll look worn but still decent, Toyondas (even rare early RWD Supras) tend to be rusty and littered with trash.

            One of my favorite articles on this was over at Curbside Classics, where they buy an unreliable Civic, and get accused of sabotage, “heavily modifying” the car, it being badly treated by the previous owner.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Buying an FCA vehicle is a great idea if you enjoy the coffee offered in you dealer’s service center and don’t have a lot to do on the weekends.

        • 0 avatar
          Chan

          Fiat’s biggest problem in the US is actually the sparse and ill-prepared dealer network.

          The dealer where we bought our 500L has come a long way, but we are in what is basically American Fiat Central (San Francisco area).

          The cars themselves are holding up fine. I know Abarth owners who have racked up 70k+ miles with no powertrain issues.

        • 0 avatar
          GeneralMalaise

          Strange, ajla, I’ve owned my early build 2012 Abarth for over 3.5 years now, 30k miles in and it has been trouble free. Only recommended maintenance. Much better than my experience with both Nissan and Ford.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I don’t really want to recount the full list of issues my ’14 Charger R/T has had in the 11 months I’ve owned it, but it has been extremely disappointing quality-wise and very far from trouble free.

            I’ve owned decades old vehicles from GM (GM!) that were way built better. I wanted to keep the Charger for about 6 years, but unless it has a major turnaround this year I’ll have to dump it at 36 months.

            I’ve never written off a brand before, but I don’t think I’ll ever buy a new FCA vehicle. It is personally embarrassing that I spent so much on something so bad.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Sounds like you need someone with a VW product to hug you and make you feel better about your Charger!

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      @CoreyDL et al: 500 Abarth owner checking in. I’ve got 39k miles on mine that I bought used in Feb with 25k miles on it. I’m very happy with my local Fiat dealer (the one I bought the car from), but I will say I’ve noticed a problem getting parts. I ran over some road debris and knocked a shield off the bottom of my car months ago and I still haven’t gotten the replacement in yet. My one and only problem has been a trouble code which the dealer says seems to afflict only the 2012 and early 2013s and is fixed by replacing the turbo. The service manager and my salesman both also have later build Abarths, and they said that when they get my turbo off, they want to take off one of theirs and compare it to see if Fiat changed anything. Anyway, they ordered it a month ago and it’s due in this week. I will say the car drives fine. The only reason I knew something was wrong was the cruise control occasionally wouldn’t come on (that’s what prompted the dealer visit) and I had a CEL on for about a week but it cleared itself. No performance deficits or fuel economy loss that I’ve seen. Otherwise the car has been perfectly reliable and is a blast to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Thanks for sharing your experience. But it sounds like to me in just seven months you’ve had an uncurable CEL code, a shield fall off, a parts delay (of months), and you need a new turbo, and your cruise is intermittent.

        I’d be very irritated (bordering pi$$ed), and would not consider this “reliable.” This sounds worse than German car experience.

      • 0 avatar
        Chan

        Needing a new turbo isn’t exactly my idea of a “reliable car,” but at least it’s under warranty and hopefully the fix lasts the life of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        @CorelyDL & Chan – The shield breaking off was my fault. I ran over road debris with the car. It was designed to protect some of the more important components under the car and break away exactly as it did. The CEL and cruise control are both because of the turbo, so this is one problem. The CEL actually cleared on its own and the cruise control only refuses to work once every couple of months. It is believed that there is some sort of defect on the 2012s and early build 2013s since they seem to be the ones suffering this problem. It will be interesting to see if my (original) turbo different than my service manager’s or salesman’s which are the newer ones and haven’t had the problem so far. The parts delay is a problem and I am not happy about that. I’ve only had the car 7 months but I’ve put over 15k miles on it, so that’s basically a years worth of driving, and it wasn’t a new car (that’s going from 24k when I bought it to almost 40k now). I will say I am grateful for Fiat’s more generous 48 month/48k warranty, as my extended warranty with them has a $100 deductible whereas this fix on the turbo isn’t costing me anything. On most any other mainstream car, I would’ve been outside the standard 3 yr/36k warranty and into the extended.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    That’s a Tony the mechanic hiding in the front compartment.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    I still don’t get how this car doesn’t come with a manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      ‘Cause Alfa wants to sell more that a couple dozen?

      • 0 avatar
        Nostrathomas

        They don’t seem to be selling many as is.

        I know that manual sales aren’t great most of the time, but I would’ve thought a car like this speaks to the enthusiast who is more about the driving experience, then silly track time stats. Ie, a Miata for those with a bit more spending money.

        Me, Ive loved the look of this thing from the start, but without a manual, I’m sticking to my Cayman.My dad (owner of an Alfa Spider) would’ve been the perfect audience….an Alfa guy with actual spending money. But no manual = no thanks, in our family at least. Oh well.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          You’ve got a point… without a manual I’m sticking to CRVs.

          Unless I get a Transit Connect.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @RideHeight – You could probably make a good deal on a 5 passenger Transit Connect. Heck the XLT 5 passenger lists for less than $25,000.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Zowie, that’s about 7K cheaper than here. What are base TC cargo versions going for there, 18K-ish?

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            I’ve never looked at the cargo versions.

            I can find a 7 passenger extended TC Wagon XLT with just about everything except leather advertising for less than $30,000 with 300-500 miles of me. NOBODY stocks the Titanium version.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Local Ford store has one XLT 7-passenger for 32,500 – 1500 rebate. Checked it out last week and wasn’t very impressed with its ride versus the plain old empty-box cargo version.

            I thought it’d be cool to have windows but the seats would just come out if I owned it. Given that, it’s not worth 8-10K more than the cargo version I was originally smitten with and so remain.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        But they won’t be selling more than a few dozen…

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      It would involve too many engineering compromises to offer both types?

    • 0 avatar
      ktm

      Neither does Ferrari, Lamborghini, or any other exotic car maker. What’s your point? This is a performance machine. Technology has spoken, DCTs perform better than manuals.

      • 0 avatar
        SunnyvaleCA

        Ferraris and Lambos are far more luxurious and prestigious than the Alpha Romeo, so I could see the case for an automatic helping in sales. However, I can’t see the Alpha Romeo as anything but a “driver’s car.”

        The review talks a lot about driving feedback, driving sensation, lack of automatic climate control, and a manually operated roof; how odd, then, that you can’t shift for yourself.

        I, like the poster above, will be sticking with my Cayman.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @KTM

        The point is the last nth of performance is irrelevant. I am not a race car driver looking to win at all costs. I am looking to have *fun* in my fun car, and part of that fun is the third pedal and the stick in the middle of the car.

        Modern hypercars are not for fun. They are for showing off. And for that market it makes perfect sense to not bother with the manuals anymore. I wouldn’t buy one of those either, but it would not surprise me to find a 308 or 328 in my garage at some point. If I had LaFerrari money I would spend it on a V12 ’60s car.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      If it did they would have sold one to me. Since it doesn’t, I bought another BMW.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        When you’re talking about a car without power steering, with an interior that makes an ’85 Excel look like a Jaguar, and with the seating comfort of a shifter kart; I have a hard time believing that someone looking for an automatic transmission so they can take selfies while drinking Starbucks is going to be a happy customer.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I would of thought the Italians could design a better looking Elise.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …i’d argue that the 4c trumps the S1 and late-refresh S2, but yeah, the standard S2 still comes out on top…still, the alfa is a gorgeous car, and by comparison, its interior makes the lotus looks like the home-brew barn project that it is…

      …putting that aside, the alfa’s design brief and engineering solutions are uncannily – even slavishly – familiar, non?..i’m quite surprised to see it come out 25% heavier despite all the carbon fibre and soviet-style appropriation…

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      The Italians did make a better looking Elise 40 years ago. It was called the Lancia Stratos. Pretty well tested design as it won the WRC title 3 times. In many ways it was a kit car – fewer than 500 made and only then to meet homologation requirements. Parts not essential to rallying were from the Fiat parts bin, ie, tail lights from the X1/9.
      Today, for the same money as the 4C, you can buy a reproduction from a British company, Lister-Bell. Engine choices are the 24V ALfa 3.0 V6 or better for the US, the Toyota 3.5 V6 from (ha!) the Camry/Avalon. Cost might even include air conditioning, but I’m not sure about a radio, let alone a nav/infotainment center. ABS/ESC/TPMS/airbags/bumpers, don’t think so, because, kit car. Lastly, claimed weight of 1700-1800lbs. And a wheelbase similar to an early 911, just to keep you honest.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Modern Marvel!

    Poverty spec for 72K.

  • avatar
    bills79jeep

    So for for double the price of a Miata, you get 90hp? And for that, you have to deal with excessive NVH, a cheap aftermarket stereo, uncomfortable seats/poor ergonomics, non-existent storage, a thin service network, no manual option, and (in my opinion) a less attractive car.

    It will sell well the first year to the well heeled who just have to have an Alfa. I have no idea who will be buying them after that.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I would rather get GT-R

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Major kudos for the small center console.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Since I can’t edit…
      I love this car (minus the engine) by the sound of this review, it’s a sports car, that lives up to what a sports car is suppose to do. The minimalist interior is absolutely beautiful, something I haven’t seen in a production car in a long time. It puts every interior from the competitors at that price to shame. You can even see the body at the top of the interior door panel. That is 10x better than any leather covered plastic from the competitors.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Perhaps a street-legal Italian track car? Any idea as to how many FCA will sell here?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Hmmmmmmmmm so I know none of these are really direct competition but we are talking about a “toy” car here. These will not likely be purchased by first owners to drive 100 miles a day as a commuter scooter.

    Let’s see – base Corvette $55,000
    base Miata – $25,000 (Grand Touring at $30,000)
    base FRS – $25,000

    Yeah I think you really have to be an Itali-ophile to want one.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      I typically see a Cayman/Boxster or Lotus being compared to this car. The Miata just seems to be in a whole different category than the 4C.

      I’m not an Alfa-phile. I don’t ever remember a time when they were sold here or to be honest, what model was ever sold here, but I do love this one.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      I think the 4C will offer a more heightened “driving experience” than the ones you mentioned. From this review, it seems like it gives more driver feedback: road and engine sounds, manual steering, super low to the ground, small and light, etc. To top it all off, the mid-engine layout is a whole ‘nuther driving experience and is why the 4C is more correctly compared to the Boxster, Cayman, and Lotus.

      The heightened “driving experience” idea is why I can’t understand this car only offered as an automatic. It’s as though every driving element was dialed to the max except for one huge, glaring omission. The 911 GT3 is automatic only at the moment, but we’ll see how long that lasts. Maybe Porsche is trying to move people the the Cayman GT4?

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I know there are mixed opinions on this car. I’ve only ever seen two of them in the wild. I love this car for what it is, a high-performance, light weight sports car and I’m just happy it’s out there. There are compromises with sports cars and I have no issue with that. I briefly entertained the idea of ordering the launch edition of this car, but I’m not generally good with buying something I haven’t driven.

    I plan to drive it soon and it will remain on my short list for my next car.

  • avatar
    ScarecrowRepair

    The steerings sounds a treat. I had a 1986 MR2 for a long time, and when it finally died, I got a Mazda3. Its steering is better than most I tried, but it still feels numb and arcade-game-like in comparison. The MR2 felt like it was on rails, and I especially liked the fierce centering.

    But what really surprised me was after taking a road trip in the Mazda3 and getting in my pickup, how its steering felt like no resistance whatsoever, no centering force in the slightest. It took me a couple of miles to get used to it again.

  • avatar
    robc123

    Like the idea, but not a fan. Those carbon tubs on the inside will scratch up like crazy with rocks from outside.

    Used Elise with a manual would be better all round choice.

  • avatar
    Chan

    A few weeks ago I attempted to hop into a 4C at a dealer. I was disappointed at the absurd difficulty in getting in and out, but I must admit that the problem is mostly with my 6’1″ height. The passenger seat is absolutely awful for tall people as the A/C controls take away 4″ of knee room in order to stay clear of the driver’s footwell. Alfa probably ran out of money to design a smaller A/C panel.

    Everything else on this car just oozes with “you know you want me.” If you’re, say, 5’10 or under, this is a legitimate fringe competitor to the Cayman and Boxster.

  • avatar
    vaujot

    As the local 4C owner, I think you either “get” the 4C or you don’t.
    About this review: It is fair and accurate but boring. This review was better: https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-alfa-romeo-4c/
    As regards the video, I think you should ditch the sunglasses. From the video, it wasn’t even that sunny when the video was made.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Seems like a fun car. Whether it’s $72,295 worth of fun will likely depend entirely on one’s investment portfolio. As someone else mentioned, most will likely opt for a Miata or Corvette.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I don’t get it. Just buy a Miata and an aftermarket supercharger if you’re into this category and save half with just as much fun or even a Corvette is starting to make sense at 50+ grand.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Furthermore, this thing looks like the build quality is equivalent to the early dodge vipers in that it’s basically an advanced kit car, minus the rip snorting v10.

    Is this seriously what the espresso swilling sweater thought was a good use of resources? Where is the Chrysler compact and crossover at? Why are they chasing such a low volume market that isn’t going to make them any money at this retail level when they have Ferrari that makes them a boatload??

  • avatar
    carve

    Ouch- full carbon construction and as sparten as an Elise, but still 200 pounds heavier than a Miata? What gives?

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Did you read the article?

      ” The weight difference is likely due to the mid-engine design, turbocharger and plumbing, larger brakes, wider tires and stouter cooling system. “

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I read the article, but I also actually know something about cars. Mid-engine design saves weight over the front engine, rear wheel drive of the Miata, which has a driveshaft. Taking a Miata to 230 hp and appropriate running gear is unlikely to add that much weight, but if it did then it still makes Alfa’s carbon fiber car seem more like a gimmick than an achievement.

        • 0 avatar
          Chan

          Don’t forget that the 4C also lacks a ton of sound insulation (bare tub for interior), lacks any sort of power steering, etc.

          There must be some other things going on that add weight–for example, I wouldn’t be surprised that FCA simply tacked on heavy bull bars to meet US impact regulations, whereas Mazda probably engineered a global car to begin with. I have a hard time believing that US crash specs are worth about 300 lbs. of metal even when designed correctly.

          Also, a mid-engine design presents a host of packaging and cooling problems.

        • 0 avatar
          GeneralMalaise

          “I read the article, but I also actually know something about cars”

          But not enough to avoid leaving a car parked under a sap-dripping pine tree for a few weeks.

      • 0 avatar
        carve

        Mid engine is not heavier, and in fact lack a driveshaft, turbo engines have a higher power to weight ratio so that should be a wash, Brakes tires and cooling systems should be more than made up for by the stripped interior and carbon chassis. MORE than made up for, yet there’s a 200 pound penalty. I’d really expect this to be as light as the Elise since they’re so similar but this one uses more advanced materials; it should be even lighter, but isn’t in order to meet safety regs. But heavier than the steel-chassis (and largely bodies) Miata?

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      The MX-5 is a great car (especially the ND), but the 4C’s performance is an order of magnitude higher. A base model 4C is also twice as expensive.

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