The Alfa Romeo 4C is one of my favorite sports cars you can buy right now—light, loud, fast, laser-focused and kind of weird. But it gets endless grief from enthusiasts, usually those who haven’t driven it, because it has a DCT instead of a proper manual gearbox. Here’s some news from Alfa Romeo: the next one won’t either.
Over at Evo, Alfa Romeo’s chief technical officer Roberto Fedeli said that it’s crucial for the brand to have a true sports car in its lineup. It is “not a choice,” he said. And as good as the 4C is, it faces stiff competition from the newer Porsche Cayman and Boxster and the all-new Alpine A110 in the markets where it is sold.
So maybe, the story says, the 4C’s replacement in the Alfa lineup will be a similar car, or a different kind of sports car. This to me implies they’d consider something like a front-engined sports car as well.
But no matter what happens, a stick shift is not in the cards. From Evo’s story:
‘We have some options,’ explained Fedeli. ‘We have to decide if we want to install a different engine, or switch the architecture’.
Fedeli, who previously served in the role of chief engineer at Ferrari and was instrumental in the development of the talented Giulia and Stelvio models, has ruled out a manual gearbox for the new car however. He confirmed that while he was at Ferrari, the firm poured money into developing a manual gearbox for the then-new California - to sell only two manual cars globally during its lifetime.
Sad, but not surprising.
(By the way: not long ago Jalopnik heard a rumor from a well-placed source that the 4C was set to be discontinued soon due to emissions certification issues. This, however, was vehemently denied by Alfa representatives in both Europe and the U.S. Take that as you will.)
The story does go on to say that a priority for Alfa is replacing the Giulietta hatchback with a newer compact performance car, something Evo says would be intended to rival the Golf R. That sounds very compelling! But the Giulietta isn’t sold in the U.S., and the market for small cars here is increasingly brutal, so who knows if such a car would even make it to our shores.
Fiat Chrysler has ambitious global plans to turn Alfa Romeo into a kind of Italian BMW-fighter, a brand with a wide range of cars that sell in decent volumes. It’s got a long way to go, but sales soared to nearly 10,000 in the U.S. in 2017, according to GoodCarBadCar, helped by the strength of the Stelvio riding the current crossover boom.
I’m glad to hear Alfa is still thinking of compact performance cars and sports cars, even if its bread and butter will have to be the big crossovers and SUVs Americans are buying like mad. Hopefully the brand gets those teething issues sorted out soon too, because it clearly has potential here.