Words: Kevin C. Limjoco
Pictures: Isabel N. Delos Reyes
Since its debut back in 2013 as the more attainable baby 8C Competizione (one of my favorite cars of all time), the Alfa Romeo 4C has slowly yet steadily gathered traction in the niche market. The 4C is an authentic, hardcore exotic sports car that looks and performs like nothing else on the road, even if car manufacturers in general are making great efforts to standout from one another. In our ever-evolving motoring world where the industry is progressively adapting and innovating, a large section of the available cars is becoming more of an appliance rather than an extension of an individual’s freedom, personality and desires.
The 4C shatters convention and it has both the bark and bite to back it up. We present to you one of the purest sports cars sold in the planet, the 2017 Alfa Romeo 4C in its Spider form in the striking Giallo (yellow) Prototipo with the tastefully exposed carbon fiber with forged Dark Alloy Fan Spoke mixed wheels (18” x 7” Front / 19” x 8.5” Rear (I prefer the Dark Gray Forged 5-hole alloys which are an Alfa Romeo signature design) shod with 205/40R18 86Y XL front and 235/35R19 91Y XL Pirelli P-Zero tires. The 4C represents Alfa Romeo’s return to the North American market, and it had to represent for over a year before the mainstream GIULIA sedan is sold in dealerships in a couple of months.
For the US market, the very Italian 4C, in both variants, had to get further reinforcement to meet the strict crash regulations, so, unfortunately, they are not as light as they could be; it has been stated that as much as 220 pounds of additional weight has been added throughout the cars. The 4C Spider is a further 22 pounds heavier than the Coupé. The monocoque of the 4C is a single Carbon Fiber tub, like a Formula 1 racecar with its bookends in aluminum and Sheet Molded Compound (SMC). Considering the weight gain, the 4C is roughly 150 pounds heavier than a 155 bhp 2.0-liter Mazda MX-5, but it has a rabid mid-mounted transverse direct injection intercooled turbo 1.7-liter with 237 bhp with 110 lb-ft more torque from 2200 to 4250 rpm channeled through a 6-speed dual clutch transmission. With launch control engaged, 0-100 km/h comes at a supercar pace of 4.3 seconds with the quarter-mile shattered in 12.7 seconds at 178 km/h! It will hold 0.97-g for some serious cornering too! So, yes, the Alfa 4C is certainly fiery fast! Thankfully, the brakes are up to the task too, even if they do feel a bit wooden.
You cannot help but compare the 4C to its direct competition the Lotus Elise and the Porsche 718 Boxster, and on the far side of the scale, the FIAT 124 Spider and Mazda MX-5 Miata. Each have their strengths and compromises; however, the Porsche is only compromised by price. The Lotus may be great for track days but it is simply too one dimensional. The FIAT is reviewed next month and the Mazda is the affordable generalist that can actually be used on a daily basis and costs less than half of the 4C. The Porsche 718 is actually priced almost evenly with the 4C until you spec it up to your requirements; in addition, it has all the modern conveniences and creature comforts as well. For the less experienced driver, they would be more comfortable and more confident to go faster in the 718.
But if you want raw, racecar purity in a lustful Italian body, then the 4C is one of the very best of the breed, but I must insist that it’s for the most devout of Alfisti. As beautiful as the 4C is, it does have a list of serious compromises. There is no power assistance on the odd and actually unattractive steering wheel, no cabin insulation, the USB cable from the single-DIN Alpine audio actually dangles above the passenger’s feet, and unless you are either a yogi or gymnast or professional dancer getting, in and out of the car would be a challenge to look graceful. There is very minimal suspension compliance, a tiny glove box between the seats, the sport bucket seats look great and are supportive for spirited driving but they have very little adjustment, the rear trunk is actually even smaller than the Mazda’s, the soft top requires patience and strength to reinstall the roof properly, the sport exhaust is ridiculously and unnecessarily loud all the time to the point that even I get annoyed with it.
So, is it worth buying an Alfa Romeo 4C Spider? If you can live with its delightful flaws, then yes! It is also a matter of perspective, except for the awful exhaust that barely sounds satisfactory on full boil, it is a sexy car with tremendous character and authentic speed capability that allows the driver to be an integral part of the experience.
Specification – 2017 Afla Romeo 4C Spider
Engine: Inline-4, 1742 cc, dohc 16V, VVT, Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo, 6-Speed DCT
Max power: 237 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Max torque: 258 lb-ft @ 2200-4250 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 4.2 seconds
Top speed: 253 km/h (158 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 24 mpg City / 34 mpg Highway
Price as tested: US$ 73,395.00
C! RATING: 10/10
+A real standout, bursting with charisma and pure driving enjoyment/involvement, HID headlights
-A short but harsh list of compromises for daily use, way too loud with the sports exhaust