INSIDE INFO SPECS AND RATINGS Model Engine
mode – there’s even launch control helping the 4C get to 100kph in 4.5 seconds, although I never tried it. The corners came much too quickly…
Alfa raised the bar with a carbon tub weighing 65kg and alloy subframes front and rear carrying the front double-wishbone suspension and the engine in the back with trick MacPherson struts. If you’re thinking why no double-wishbones, remember that Porsche’s Cayman uses MacPhersons too, for packaging reasons more than anything.
And I couldn’t help but think of the immense challenge of beating a Porsche Cayman leading up to this drive, but really the Alfa 4C is much more of an Italian Lotus Exige. It’s not a ‘full’ or complete car like a Cayman. That’s because the 4C is defined by essentiality. There is nothing in here, or out there, that’s unnecessary. Except for the achingly pretty looks... They aren’t entirely necessary, but then again it is Italian, and it is an Alfa. Even so, the composite body’s contours simply embrace the oily bits underneath. In this colour it’s almost as if a 4C running chassis is still standing displayed on a show stage, with a satin red veil draped over it.
Anyway, it’s much too small for any talk of Porsches – almost 400mm shorter than a Cayman but wider and significantly lower. Naturally inside there is very little room with that 2,380mm wheelbase especially if you’re a passenger. The seat adjusts provided you carry an Allen key everywhere and have plenty of time before departure. The driver’s seat moves fore and aft but, again, needs a mechanic for height adjustment. So sort it out for once and never touch it again.
The same goes for your partners and belongings. There’s no room here for anything, barring my notebook and pen. Obsessive weight saving carries on to the materials (cheap), padding and insulation ( just about nonexistent with the incessant sound of the four-cylinder ringing around the cabin) and the ugly two-spoke steering wheel, which sheds a third spoke ‘because racecar’. The standard non-leather seats are covered in recycled plastic bottles, and they tend to be pretty lightweight.
So a car that weighs about a tonne with fluids and a dieting driver, with such compact dimensions and a stiff carbon tub and 240 horsepower, has no right to disappoint with its performance. You expect absorbed, engrossed driving focus, and the Alfa 4C does all that.
It’s almost like it’s an articulated vehicle. You soon gain so much trust in the 4C’s grip that you just go flat-out everywhere.
Alfa would’ve had no excuses if the 4C disappointed as a sportscar. Especially since it’s so centrally focused it’s absolutely no good at just about everything else. It’s uncomfortable, it’s loud, it’s seriously cramped (the centre console will keep dead-legging your passenger), there is no storage room, it’s not affordable, it’s not luxurious, it’s impractical...