Alfa raw-mio

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Prestige -

THROUGH the snaking bi­tu­men cir­cuit the car­bon­fi­bre coupe skips and twitches, grum­bles and roars and ar­rests ev­ery gram of the driver’s at­ten­tion.

Blink and you’ll miss the next cor­ner’s apex, clip the folded con­crete edge or fail to pre­dict the next ob­sta­cle of con­fused witch’s hats. The 4C is not a car for the faint of heart and a sur­prise choice given that it alone is tasked by its maker, Alfa Romeo, to take its near­dor­mant sales into a new, up­ward cy­cle.

More re­mark­able is that it has been re­leased just as Alfa Romeo’s heart ap­pears to barely be beat­ing. But as the Ital­ians be­gin pro­duc­tion of the 4C, they also have to si­lence the crit­ics. The paramedics have ar­rived with em­phatic or­ders to ready Alfa Romeo for a re­turn wor­thy of Lazarus.

The CEO of Alfa Romeo’s par­ent com­pany Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles, Ser­gio Mar­chionne, plans big things for Alfa. Along with Jeep and Fiat, he says, it will com­prise the pow­er­house trio to push the par­ent to new heights.

In an in­ter­view last week, Mar­chionne said he would quit as CEO if Alfa left Italy. The start­ing point for Alfa, in fact the linch­pin, is the 4C — a com­pact mid-en­gined twoseater, made of car­bon-fi­bre and born from a pie-in-thesky 2011 con­cept car built when the global car in­dus­try was on its knees.

Im­pos­si­bly, for so it seems, the 4C went from con­cept to pre-pro­duc­tion in a ridicu­lously tight 28 months. Now, it’s com­ing to Aus­tralia with 300 promised this year. Most are sold but many buy­ers have since moved their or­ders to the Spi­der (con­vert­ible) model that was sprung on vis­i­tors to last week’s Geneva mo­tor show.

Driven in its fi­nal pro­duc­tion guise around Turin and at Alfa’s Balocco test com­plex, the 4C will turn heads and change ex­pec­ta­tions. It is the ba­sis from which the com­pany will evolve new sedans, new hatch­backs and even an SUV.

Yet it looks like a scaled­down Lo­tus Evora, a com­par­i­son that be­comes closer as you delve into the 4C’s

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