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2015 Alfa Romeo: New Exotic Excitement

By Arv Voss, February 14th, 2015

The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is best described as an exotic mini-supercar. The new 4C Sports Coupe marks the return of the iconic and revered marque following a nearly 20-year hiatus, and it represents the purest form of the Alfa Romeo's sporting DNA.

Fiat and Chrysler Group collaborated on the project to integrate the Alfa Romeo brand's design and Maserati's manufacturing processes. The Alfa Romeo design team, in conjunction with the vehicle's engineering team, created a coupe that achieves maximum aerodynamic efficiency levels with a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.335, and like the race cars that inspired its creation and development, the Alfa Romeo 4C's design contributes to increased stability at higher speeds.

The Alfa Romeo 4C's compact dimensions are truly unique, adding to its light weight and agile handling properties: It is only 157.5 inches long, 73.5 inches wide, with an extremely low 46.6 inches in overall height, and boasts a curb weight below 2,500 pounds.

I had seat time in the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C both as a driver and passenger during the national press launch. Driving scenarios included street time in downtown San Francisco and along the region's twisting coastal roads, as well as on the challenging Sonoma Raceway.

The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C sports coupe is certainly not a car for everybody, but it is sure to delight "dyed-in-the-wool" purists who want to go fast in comfort and in control. Along with its diminutive size, its styling is a combination of futuristic, sensuous, and dramatically unique. It is truly an automotive work of art.

Starting at $53,900, the Alfa 4C is first and foremost a driver's car, or more specifically, a serious, exotic, high-performance sports coupe with supercar proportions and credentials. The dashboard and door panels feature an "asphalt" treatment that stylists selected to convey a maximum driving sensation from the road.

The dashboard is a thermoformed shell, similar to those found in ultra-exotic supercars, and is available fully wrapped in premium leather. The clean flat-bottom performance steering wheel comes with paddle-shift controls.

In terms of its performance, acceleration, braking, and steering, all deliver basic, pure sensations. This, my motoring friends, is a true sports car with no superfluous control systems to invade the raw joy of driving.

The manual, non-assisted steering can take a little getting used to, but ultimately delivers a direct, controlled sensation, not normally found in many of today's sports cars.

At the heart of the Alfa Romeo 4C is the transverse mid-mounted 16-valve, turbocharged, direct-injection four-cylinder 1.75-liter aluminum engine that makes 237 horsepower while generating 258 lb.-ft. of torque from 2,200 to 4,250 rpm. Motive energy is geared to the rear wheels through a six-speed Alfa TCT twin-clutch transmission with sequential paddle-shift gear selection and automatic mode.

The DCT gearbox with the paddle shifters provides instantaneous and smooth gear transitions, with better-than-manual results -- though I'm sure there are those who would still prefer a standard transmission.

Suspension componentry consists of a "superimposed" double wishbone configuration up front for direct and unfiltered feedback, while at the rear, an advanced MacPherson suspension ensures optimum road-holding attributes. The 4C is designed with stiffer springs, larger front and rear sway bars, and re-tuned shock absorbers for the North American market. The handling characteristics render "seat-of-your-pants' feedback with confidence and control, keeping the Alfa 4C flat and planted.

Staggered diameter and width wheels and tires ensure maximum grip and keep the 4C planted firmly on the road; standard 17-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels are wrapped in Pirelli PZero performance tires for crisp handling. Stepping up to the "Launch Edition" boosts wheel size to 18 inches up front and 19 inches in the rear.

Old-world craftsmanship is evident throughout the 4C two-seater coupe. It is a perfect driver's car, with everything properly positioned for the ultimate in user friendliness. It is not quite as ideal for a passenger with long legs, as the driver-oriented instrument panel curves into and invades the passenger space. The dash also extends more rearward on the passenger side, making it difficult at best to attain the ideal seating position for really long-legged passengers.

Surprisingly however, headroom is not an issue -- there is plenty, but a Spider version will be a welcome addition to the 4C lineup. Will there be one? While an on-sale date hasn't been officially announced, the site 4c.alfaromeo.com shows a pre-production 4C Spider with "late availability."

Specifications

Base price $53,900 (as tested: $64,845)
Curb weight 2,465 lbs.
Displacement 1.8-liter
Engine type 16-valve turbocharged 4-cyl. w/DI
Epa mileage rating 24 mpg city, 34 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 10.5 gal.
Horsepower (net) 237 at 6000 rpm
Overall length 157.5 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 258 at 2200 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 2-passenger RWD coupe
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