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