Can You Daily Drive The Alfa Romeo 4C?

Illustration for article titled Can You Daily Drive The Alfa Romeo 4C?

Whenever a new exotic car comes out, enthusiasts always ask the same question: can you daily drive it? Regarding the Alfa Romeo 4C, I’ll answer this question with another question: you could daily drive a riding lawnmower. But do you really want to?


In order to find out if you can daily drive an Alfa 4C, I spent the day with one, courtesy of Cyrus at exotic rental car firm Broadway SuperCars. And while I don’t want to reveal all of my thoughts just yet, I will say this: at the end of the day, when I returned the 4C and drove home, the Aston felt like one of those giant Lexuses that incredibly old people lose in parking lots after a symphony performance.

I made a video that thoroughly covers the 4C’s capabilities as a daily driver. However, I am also writing this column for those of you who are currently in a place where you can easily spend a few minutes reading, but not a few minutes watching a video, such as a Tinder date.

So I will start with comfort. Plainly speaking, the 4C has none. The 4C is uncomfortable to get inside, uncomfortable to sit in, uncomfortable to ride in, uncomfortable to steer, and generally lacking any sort of comfort assistance or aids, such as adjustable seatbacks, or reasonably sized sun visors, or, you know, seat padding.

I’ll admit the 4C is more comfortable than my old Lotus Elise in every single way. It’s easier to get in and out of, it has more room, it has a smoother ride, and it’s a little more luxurious, what with high-end equipment like parking sensors and a center console. With that said, this doesn’t mean much. Saying a car is “more comfortable than a Lotus Elise” is sort of like saying an object is “more fireproof than a forest in central California.”

Then there’s practicality: the 4C has precisely three in-cabin storage spaces. Two are found between either door and either seat; small black leather-wrapped slots that are large enough to hold major items such as a notecard, but too small to hold gluttonous extravagances such as a tissue box. For that, you’d have to consult The Box, a small storage box between the seats where you could fit a midsize tube of toothpaste, or a full-size tube of toothpaste, or a small child, assuming he is no larger than a full-size tube of toothpaste.

Of course, the 4C also includes a trunk. More on that in a moment. For now, I’ll say that the 4C offers a mere 3.7 cubic feet of cargo space. By comparison, the Porsche Cayman offers 15 cubic feet. That boat.

And then there’s visibility. In front, the blind spot is nonexistent. To the side, the blind spot is minimal. In back, the blind spot could hide a regional airport. Fortunately, Alfa Romeo has developed a solution for this: in the 4C I drove, the roof comes off, so you can stick your head out the top and accurately assess the situation in back. I am not sure what you’d do if you have a 4C Coupe, but I suspect the pesky roof could come off with a little elbow grease, a can-do spirit, and a giant electric saw.

Illustration for article titled Can You Daily Drive The Alfa Romeo 4C?

Like all Italian cars, the 4C also has its quirks. And I am not referring to quirks such as “the door handle is at a funny angle.” I mean quirks as in “before creating this vehicle, did the engineers ever spend time in an automobile?”


My favorite “quirk” is the trunk: there is no exterior release. It’s hard to explain how annoying this is until you actually daily-drive the vehicle and you realize that you’re stuck with a combination of a) no storage space on the inside, and b) no way to open the trunk from the outside. So you have no alternative when you want to bring something with you: you walk up to the car, you unlock the doors, you reach down and unlatch the trunk, you walk around to the back of the car, you open the trunk, and you stick your something inside. If you forget something, you must repeat the process again.

So is there anything good about the Alfa Romeo 4C? Uh, yes. Get it out on the open road and it’s a truly thrilling car; one of the most exciting, sporty, tossable vehicles I’ve driven in years. It goes wherever you tell it, it feels leagues more stable than my old Lotus, and it sounds like an exotic supercar despite the fact that it is, on paper, a three-fourths copy.


And while it doesn’t have three pedals like I wish it did, the transmission is actually pretty good considering that we’re talking about a low-volume Italian sports car whose music USB port is a wire dangling down from the passenger side of the dashboard.

So what’s my verdict? I would love to have a 4C. I would drive it on Sunday mornings, down curvy roads out in the country, feeling the rush of its acceleration, musing at the excellent cornering, and listening to the beautiful sound.


And then, when I was done, I would return home and park it in my garage until the following Sunday.

@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars, which his mother says is “fairly decent.” He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer.



As a 4c owner who actually daily drives it, and has done so for more than a year, I suggest comments like

The 4C is uncomfortable to get inside, uncomfortable to sit in, uncomfortable to ride in, uncomfortable to steer, and generally lacking any sort of comfort assistance or aids, such as adjustable seatbacks, or reasonably sized sun visors, or, you know, seat padding.

are, well, a bit exaggerated. I’m a fairly heavy guy of normal height and with a lower back injury, but I have no issue getting in or out. Granted, it takes a little practice, more apparently than most journos either get or expect their readers to care about. The only time ingress and egress are a problem is when you can’t open the door fully, a problem you quickly learn to anticipate and account for.

Uncomfortable to ride in? The same was said of my old Z4 M coupe. Wasn’t true of that car either. Those seats, by the way, are super lightweight Sabelts with plenty of lateral support and enough comfort that I can spend a full track day in it without discomfort. Going up the coast for a weekend with the wife is no problem.

Speaking of which, it’s quite true that the trunk has all the volume of the pocketed storage spaces in my wife’s 4 door sedan. It’s not big. But it is big enough for two to enjoy a long weekend out of town, with reasonable planning. The latch? Meh. My wife’s sedan has an auto un/locking trunk which is far more frustrating to use.

So, fair enough, so far all is just a bit exaggerated, with kernels of truth sprinkled about. But the steering? Uncomfortable? I’m not even sure what that means. My old ‘74 2002 had manual steering of course, which required more effort to turn than the 4c does. I assume this comment is for drivers who’ve never actually driven a manual steer car. It requires but moderate effort when stopped, anything above about 5mph and you simply don’t notice it.

You do notice the feel, however. Not as immediate as the author’s Lotus I’ll wager, but nuanced and capable of giving fine level details about what each tire is doing. That’s a lot more than my old M Coupe could manage, which had well received hydraulic steering. Truth is, as good as the Coupe was in so many ways, it never really did put the old 2002 out of my mind, and steering feel was the culprit. But the 4c has done what the MC couldn’t.

The 4c, like the MC, is a throwback car built on modern principles. Sure its got a digital display and the world’s fastest automated transmission, but the upward curving C pillars and the curved windshield are more than passing resemblances of a Lancia Stratos. Its wheelbase to track is almost as square, and the tendency to understeer makes the car quite controllable sideways, with predictable rather than snap rotation.

Journos around the world have had a turn at this car, and some have ruined their reps with me (like a certain P-car (not you, Mr. DeMuro!) guy complaining about the rear struts, or a local burly lad pretending the effort in the curvies worked him up to a sweat). But if even Jeremy Clarkson can give in to its charms, and I know you pay attention to JC Superstar, as do I, I gotta wonder when this car will get a more nuanced treatment.