Spannerhead Dot

Alfa Romeo 4C: The Return

December 20, 2011 by Matt

Alfa Romeo 4C New Red

I love writing about Alfa Romeo. In any capacity, really. News, treatises on older models, discussions of the company’s up and downs—I’ll take anything. The reason? Without descending too far into cliché, there are few automakers that evoke quite the same sense of implausible romance as Alfa does. Even a stereotypically “passionate” automaker like Jaguar was taken over by Ford and forced to attend to boring things like quality, and is the better for it nowadays, but in my mind, Alfa has always remained unencumbered by such concerns as how their cars actually go together. For ages, they’ve been free to focus on the qualities that really matter to enthusiasts—soul, emotion, feedback, sensation—without fretting over details like whether their automotive objets d’art would start every morning. Car buffs have long felt a connection to that fundamentally irrational mindset; after all, a sports car is almost by definition an irrational acquisition. Boring, reliable transportation appliances are cheap and plentiful, and there’s simply no real way to justify the purchase of something as impractical as a sports car, of any make. I know; I’ve tried—and how. But that’s where Alfa meets us; they seem to understand the struggle, and somehow make it easier for us by completely eliminating any delusions of sensibility creating conflict in our minds. For that, the automaker will always have a place in the enthusiast pantheon.

Alfa Romeo 4C New Red Back Rear Tail

The good news today is a reconfirmation of Alfa’s intention to return to the US market for the first time since their departure in ’94, and return with a bang: Their 4C sports car will be the first model to hit showrooms. True to form, it’s a completely impractical, tiny, 2-seat, mid-engined, turbocharged road-hugger, and it looks beautiful, like a three-fifths size 458 Italia. Even more impressive than its 230 hp, 1.8l direct-injection 4-cylinder engine is its Lotus-like sub-2000 lb curb weight. That kind of power-to-weight ratio ensures lively responses in any direction, not the least of which is a mid-4-second 0-60 sprint. Priced around $60K, it should undercut the Porsche Cayman by $10K or so while offering 911-like levels of performance. If Alfa can pull it off—and there’s no reason to think they won’t be able to, given the financial muscle of parent Fiat—I’d say they have a winner on their hands. I look forward to reading magazine and online comparos chronicling the impractical Italian’s attempts to one-up its more sensible German, Japanese and American rivals.

Filed under: Alfa Romeo, News

Leave a Reply