The Alfa Romeo 4C is beyond important. It signals the latest re-birth of Alfa Romeo at a time when car companies simply don’t have multiple chances left to get it right. The marque has been let down over the years by a series of fumbled plans and front-wheel-drive cars that whilst beautiful to look at, failed to live up to a brand promise forged over decades of racing success.Alfa Romeo sales have continued to drop over the last 10 years and it’s widely known that the brand will have to re-enter the US market in order to grow. Fiat has talked about Alfa Romeo returning to the US for years but the brand has lacked the right product to do so. The cars have been merely ‘adequate’ where a marque with Alfa’s history needs ‘exceptional’. You can’t position an Alfa as a family car against a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry, which is what they would have to have done with cars like the 156 and 159. This is a brand that needs something special beyond its looks and Alfa hasn’t had that for some time.
Until now, we hope.
Alfa’s latest incarnation as a brand began with the 8C from a few years ago – a super-exotic V8 powered swoon-mobile that in recent Alfa tradition, didn’t drive quite as good as it looked. The 4C is a more accessible car than the exclusive 8C (i.e. it has a healthy price tag but doesn’t cost megabucks) but offers the promise of advanced design and construction to give it a much lighter weigh-in and better handling.
My heart sank with the first review I saw (can’t remember the source). They went pretty hard on the car and marked it down quite harshly. I haven’t seen a lot since, but this review by Chris Harris from /DRIVE has me feeling more buoyant.
It’s 8 minutes long and I think you’ll enjoy it. The car looks, sound and seems to drive very nicely indeed.
For those who skipped the video…..
The engine is fantastic, has heaps of torque and propels the car beautifully.
The non-powered steering is a delight and gives great feedback combined with the stiff, carbon-fibre tub chassis.
Harris drove the car on both the track and the road. Both situations were extremely rewarding and the 4C got plenty of interest and admiration around town. Goodwill for Alfa Romeo seems to be alive and well.
The mechanical package is extremely tight and this, combined with a need to make the car relatively affordable, may have resulted in some suspension compromises (this rings true with that first review I saw). And, the steering, while fantastic, is let down by the steering wheel, which looks and feels rather average when it should be much classier.
I like Chris Harris’ work and place a lot of currency in his opinions. He’s a driver and a genuine car nut. He wants cars that should be good to be good and whilst he recognises the compromises, he doesn’t slam a car because of them if the positive aspects are genuine.
Such is his opinion of the 4C – a car that Alfa desperately needs to be received the right way. I’m really pleased to see that it has been received positively in this instance because I really, really want to see Alfa succeed.
And yes, I really, really want a 4C one day 🙂