Drive

Alfa Romeo 4C

Australian T3 - - CONTENTS -

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

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