Alfa Romeo 4C
Do supercars need massive, muscular, planet-ruining engines to achieve “superness”? No. As Alfa Romeo has found, if you cut the weight with artfully placed carbon fibre, you get all the thrills with a fraction of the horsepower
We often find ourselves musing, “What does it mean to be a supercar?” A massive, sneering V8 engine? A massive, sneering prick behind the wheel? Not so! The new Alfa Romeo 4C breaks all the old-school rules. It’s a metrosexual supercar, delivering the goods with a relatively puny 1.7-litre engine, high cheek bones and a red-hot paint job. Fierce!
Said engine is a tweaked version of the four-cylinder job in Alfa’s Giulietta hatchback, this time bolted behind the seats in midengine configuration. With a new aluminium block and the turbo turned up to 11, it cranks out just shy of 180kW. Impressive for such a small engine, but less than half what you’d get from the eight-, 12- or 16-cylinder monsters that normally qualify for supercardom.
So, how does the 4C manage to keep pace with its rivals? By watching its weight. The entire chassis of this thing is hewn from carbon fibre, which is pretty much unheard of at this price. The result is a paltry 895kg kerb weight – a wiry, agile Bruce Lee to your standard, Tyson-esque supercar bruisers.
Straight-line performance is nothing special on paper. Zero to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds is plenty quick, but hardly blistering. The 4C isn’t trying to compete on flat-out speed, though, it’s a supercar for people who favour great
the 4C is a wiry, agile Bruce Lee to the usual Tysonesque supercars
handling, the latest dual-clutch paddle-shift technology and sleek styling to die for.
The 4C feels great to drive. Much of that is thanks to the featherweight carbon-fibre construction, which doesn’t just make the whole car more dynamic, but also means you can get away with unassisted steering, adding to the sense of involvement and connectivity with the car. Certainly, the 4C feels much more alive than the likes of Porsche’s Cayman. Whisper it, but analogue still beats digital when it comes to car steering.
The digital hasn’t been completely ignored, however. Analogue dials on the dash are replaced with an LCD screen and virtual rev counter, plus there’s Parrot’s Asteroid system onboard for linking your smartphone’s calls and music selections via Bluetooth.
Last but not least, that hot hatch-derived engine and super-light weight mean that real-world fuel consumption above 14km/l is a realistic ambition. In short, if this is the future of supercars, sign us up. $TBC, alfaromeo.com.au