Mini-Me Alfa

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Prestige - NEIL DOWLING

PRICED at some $50,000 a seat, Alfa Romeo’s tiny new flag­ship isn’t cheap — but it’s one of the stars of the Geneva mo­tor show.

The road­ster take on the be­guil­ing 4C coupe fol­lows the hard­top into lo­cal show­rooms early next year, from $100,000 to as much as $120,000 for a spe­cial launch edi­tion. The coupe ar­rives late this year priced from about $80,000.

The launch edi­tion fea­tures big­ger wheels, sports body­work, ex­tra car­bon-fi­bre com­po­nents and up­graded cabin trim.

Fiat Chrysler spokes­woman Karla Leach says 120 cus­tomers have paid de­posits for the coupe with­out know­ing the fi­nal price. The Spi­der was con­firmed as an ad­di­tion to the range this week.

“Some people who have paid de­posits for the coupe may change to the Spi­der,’’ she says.

The 4C is the Mini-Me ver­sion of Alfa’s limited-edi­tion 8C, which was built by Maserati with a Fer­rari en­gine.

De­spite its rel­a­tive diminu­tive size, the 4C emu­lates the 8C’s high-per­for­mance man­date and light weight with a car­bon-fi­bre body and a 1750cc tur­bocharged petrol en­gine, dual-clutch trans­mis­sion and rear-wheel-drive.

The Spi­der sticks with the for­mula, weigh­ing only 895kg and mea­sur­ing less than 4m long and 1.2m high.

The en­gine, an evo­lu­tion of the Gi­uli­etta hatch­back’s turbo four, is tuned to 177kW/350Nm for a 0-100km/h sprint time of only 4.5 sec­onds.

The 4C’s power plant has re­designed in­take and ex­haust ports, di­rect fuel in­jec­tion, con­tin­u­ous vari­able valve tim­ing for inlet and ex­haust and a scav­eng­ing con­trol setup to elim­i­nate turbo lag.

The dual-clutch trans­mis­sion has seven ra­tios, selected by pad­dle-shifters. New for the brand is the 4C’s DNA se­lec­tor — it has three stan­dard driv­e­train set­tings, dy­namic, nat­u­ral and all-weather. A “race’’ mode sharp­ens en­gine, steer­ing and trans­mis­sion re­sponses.

NEXT WEEK IN CARS­GUIDE

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