Unfortunately, since you don’t live in the 1970s, you can’t buy a Lamborghini Countach, a Ferrari Dino 308 GT4 or a DeTomaso Pantera brand new. But you can buy an Alfa Romeo 4C, which is probably the closest thing to a modern version of those exotics. What do you need to know before you buy an Alfa Romeo 4C? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in the Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.
Do not let the paper specs, small 1.75-liter engine or relatively modest price tag fool you: The Alfa 4C is a legit Italian exotic. It’s loud, it’s uncompromising, and it’s an incredible performer designed for the most hardcore of drivers.
The 4C is not a luxury car. It’s not a boulevard cruiser. Don’t come in expecting cushy personal amenities and the height of comfort. That’s not what this car is about.
The ride is harsh; the demonically over-turbocharged four cylinder engine howls in your ear at all times; the cabin is sparse and almost kit car-like; and the stereo works, kind of; and there is no power steering, so bone up on your parallel parking skills.
Instead the 4C brings incredible acceleration, unbelievable handling, a race-car like carbon fiber monocoque, stunning looks and a purity of purpose to the table that few cars can match, especially at this price range. The dual-clutch paddle-shift transmission is lightning quick and the un-powered steering is a revelation compared to most dead-feeling electric racks you get today.
Think of it less as a competitor to the cushy (by comparison) Boxster and Cayman and more as an Italian Lotus Exige, and you start to get what the 4C is all about.
The Alfa Romeo 4C was all new for 2015, debuting at the 2014 New York Auto Show as a small-displacement, lightweight, mid-engine, rear-wheel drive sports car with manual steering. It’s a great set of attributes for a true driver’s car, even if there’s no manual available.
The carbon fiber monocoque, dual-clutch transmission and the all-aluminum 1.75-liter direct-injected inline-four put the 4C at the cutting edge of sports car technology. But more importantly, what caught the world’s eye when the 4C debuted was the fact that it was absolutely stunning to look at.
When the 4C launched, it could be ordered as a “Launch Edition” or as a standard coupe, though a beautiful convertible version called the “Spider,” which bowed at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, later joined the mix. That car has a cloth top that manually rolls away and is not power-operated, but it also represents a minimal weight gain and no loss to stiffness thanks to the carbon fiber frame.
Walk around FCA’s technical center in Auburn Hills and you’ll likely be stunned by two small sports cars: The Dodge Viper and the Alfa Romeo 4C. Though both cars are fiery and flamboyant, one has an 8.4-liter V10 and the other makes do with 6.65 fewer liters of displacement. Six-Point-Six-Five Liters!
Clearly the two cars go about accomplishing their missions in different ways, with the 4C’s tiny 1.75-liter turbocharged inline-four scooting the svelte 2,500-pound Italian to 60 MPH in only 4.1 seconds.
But it’s not just the car’s weight that helps the 237 horsepower four-pot accelerate the car so quickly, it’s also the transmission. The six-speed twin-clutch transmission snaps off shifts in 130 milliseconds; that, coupled with launch control, means lots of Get Up And Go for a car with less power than most U.S. minivans.
2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Engine Options
Engine Max Horsepower (hp) Max Torque (lb-ft) 1.75-liter turbo I4 237 @ 6000 rpm 258 @ 2200 rpm
Fuel Economy Breakdown
Lightweight, small displacement turbo engine, dual clutch transmission, 0.34 drag coefficient: sounds like a recipe for good fuel economy. And, as it turns out, that recipe does indeed yield good mileage, as the 4C sips fuel almost as slowly as most Italians sip their espressos during lunch break.
At 34 MPG highway and 28 combined, driving the little 4C won’t break the bank in fuel costs, even if it does only take premium.
2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Fuel Economy Ratings (City/Highway/Combined)
_ 1.75-liter turbo I4 Fuel Economy- Manual 24/34/28
The 4C gets Brembo four-piston calipers in the front and TRW dual-opposed clampers in the back, squeezing 12-inch vented rotors in the front and 11.5-inch discs in the rear. There’s no power steering; the 4C gets a manually-operated rack and pinion, so you’ll be cranking those wheels with those mighty human forearms and shoulders. Suspension is a double-wishbone design at the head and a MacPherson setup at the tail.
The 2015 4C comes as either a coupe or a convertible, with no true trim levels in either guise.
- Coupe: Starts at $53,900. Notable standard features: 1.75-liter turbo I4, 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, automatic projector headlamps, LED daytime running lights, power windows, manual air conditioning, seven-inch TFT display for gauges, telemetry with lateral-g meter, boost pressure monitor, four-speaker audio system with bluetooth, aluminum pedals, manually adjustable black cloth sports seats, leather wrapped steering wheel, multiple driving modes, Pirelli P Zero three-season tires, dual exhaust with chrome tips, 17-inch alloy front wheels, 18-inch alloy rear wheels, front airbags, ABS, hill start assist, remote keyless entry. Notable options: Convenience Package: cruise control, security alarm, ParkSense rear park assist ($1,400); Leather Package: leather-wrapped instrument panel and door panels, black or red leather seats, leather storage bag ($2,000); Track Package: racing suspension with unique sway bars, performance-tuned shocks, unique steering wheel, unique sports seats, carbon fiber exterior mirrors, body-color spoiler, carbon fiber gauge cluster bezel, unique wheels ($2,300); Carbon fiber interior trim: carbon fiber shift bezel, air vents, cluster bezel ($2,000); Pirelli P Zero AR racing tires ($1,200); painted brake calipers ($300).
- Spider: Notable standard features over Coupe: removable and trunk-stowable soft-top, carbon fiber windshield surround, alarm system, black leather bucket seats, black leather-wrapped instrument panel, black leather-wrapped doors, black leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear leather lockable bag. Notable options: Track Package: race tuned suspension, carbon fiber mirrors, unique steering wheel ($1,600); Convenience Group: Cruise control, park sense rear park assist system ($900); other options similar to Coupe.
Like we said, the 4C’s no luxury car. The exposed bolts in the carbon fiber frame and janky Parrot Asteroid radio are proof of that. It’s also delightfully sparse on options.
We’d spring for the leather interior, larger 18-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlamps, and convenience group package (which includes parking sensors, useful with its limited visibility) and nothing else for an MSRP of $67,395. Everyone else will think you’re in a six-figure sports car.
Also, while pricing and build options aren’t available yet, we’d probably spring for the 4C Spider over the 4C Coupe. If you’re going to get a sports car this pure, you might as well get the one that puts the wind in your hair.
MSRP: $53,900-$63,900 Top Speed: 160 MPH
Acceleration: 4.1s to 60
MPG: 24 city / 34 hwy / 28 combined
Engines: 1.7-liter turbo I4
Max Horsepower/Torque: 237 hp/258 lb-ft
Curb Weight: ~2,465-2,487 IIHS Safety Rating: NA
Transmissions: 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Transverse Mouted Mid Engine, RWD
Photo credit: Alfa Romeo