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2018 Alfa Romeo 4C Overview
Back in the days of The Jetsons and the original Captain Kirk, people dreamed that, by 2018, we'd be driving something as futuristic as Alfa Romeo 4C. Although it's no flying car, it's the next best thing designed to fly over the roads at stellar speeds, with its carbon fiber body, aerodynamic styling, light-weight, and turbocharged powerplant. In fact, it looks as if it's prepared for a moon launch. If your goal as an owner of an exotic car is to stand out from the crowd, it's hard to imagine a ride with more visual punch than the 4C.
The Italian built car’s interior ergonomics could be improved with more seat adjustment options, rear window visibility could be improved, and cargo space is minimal . But the Alfa Romeo AC was never intended to be a family sedan.In fact, it's the polar opposite—an exclusive, limited release car for a discerning clientele. It's designed to make a statement, and on it succeeds. The 4C will turn heads wherever it goes.
Since its introduction in 2015, the two-passenger 4C has changed little. Annual updates for hand-built exotic cars of this caliber are typically minimal, and the 2018 model sees minimal updates. New optional features include adding a unique front fascia with carbon fiber vents and black leather upholstery with contrast yellow accent stitching (limited to cars with Black, White, and Basalt Gray exterior paint colors). Other standard features, upgrades, and add-on packages remain from the previous year.
Available in both Coupe and Spider body styles, the 4C continues to find the ideal balance between weight and power that translates to performance. Tipping the scales at a svelte 2,465 pounds, the 4C is much lighter than its competitors. Alfa Romeo achieved a low weight through extensive use of ultralight carbon fiber and aluminum in the integrated monocoque body and chassis, and carbon fiber exterior air vents, composite-framed sport seats, instrument cluster surrounds, and shifter.
Given its low weight, the 4C doesn't need an engine as powerful as competitors to achieve performance. Alfa Romeo goes with a 1.75-liter all-aluminum turbocharged 4-cylinder powerplant that delivers 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The 4C goes from 0 to 60 in 4.1 seconds and reaches a top speed of 160 mph. The turbo 4 fuel efficiency rates 24 mpg city and 34 highway. Gas mileage is rarely the determining factor for cars of this prestige, but the 4C tries for fuel efficiency. The turbo 4 mates to a fast-shifting 6-speed Alfa twin-clutch transmission (TCT) with four adjustable driving modes, including Dynamic and Race modes for performance driving. In addition, Launch Control (standard) ensures quick acceleration off the line.
The midengine design places the powerplant behind the seats but in front of the rear axle, resulting in good balance and ideal weight distribution for the 4C. It also minimizes the distance between the engine and rear axle, improving efficiency and delivering fast response. The 4C is tuned for firmness rather than comfort.The suspension features a double-wishbone design in the front and MacPherson struts in the rear resulting in a ride that can shift from smooth to harsh depending on road surface.The automaker opts for manual steering, rather than more modern electric power steering, in an attempt to delight purists who value true feedback on the track. The downside to manual steering is increased effort maneuvering in everyday driving situations, like parallel parking or negotiating a tight turn at slow speeds. Some critics say the manual steering delivers true sports car handling, while others find it one of the car’s biggest faults.
Manual steering may not be an issue for potential buyers. The low stance, low roofline, and heavily pronounced wheel wells provide a lean, muscular look to the 4C, and the exterior curves, swoops, air scoops, and elegant touches inspire curiosity. Alfa Romeo calls the exterior design "handcrafted emotion," and it's hard to argue Minor design drawbacks include the Coupe's small rear window. It provides a view of the engine from the outside, but it, along with thick B pillars and high haunches limits the driver’s. The Spyder’s rear visibility is also limited, due to an even smaller rear window and high rear deck that houses the engine.
Standard exterior features include a bold front fascia with the Alfa Romeo badge in a distinctive inverted triangular grille element, halogen projector headlights, LED daytime running lights, dual chrome center-mounted exhaust tips, and silver brake calipers. The Coupe has a fixed hardtop roof, and the Spider comes with a removable soft-top roof. The 4C rides on 17-inch aluminum wheels in the front and 18-inch wheels in the rear. In addition to the new optional front fascia, a number of other exterior options are available, including a variety of unique wheels, HID headlights, a carbon fiber roof for the Coupe, and a choice of red, black, or yellow brake calipers.
Inside, the two-seat cabin isn't as upscale as competitors and storage spaces are limited. There are, however, several notable interior features, like laser-etched pedals, a 7-inch touchscreen, and an Alpine audio system that includes Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, and an audio input jack. Reviews of the black leather-wrapped twin-spoke flat-bottom performance steering wheel are mixed. The lightweight sport bucket seats are firm and covered in black cloth upholstery with red contrast stitching. Owners can upgrade to a variety of seating choices with leather, fabric, or microfiber coverings and contrast stitching. Remote keyless entry also comes standard, but features like cruise control and rear parking assist must be added as options. There's no glovebox, and the rear trunk offers a minimal 3.7 cubic feet of storage space.
The 4C comes standard with such safety features as electronic stability control, traction control, hill start assist, and five airbags. Advanced safety features like rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot alert, and lane change assist are unavailable. The National Highway Transportation Association (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have not safety-rated the 4C.
Bottom line, the 4C looks like nothing on the road today. And, for an exotic car, it's relatively affordable. In a market segment where prices reach well into the the six figures, the 4C starts in the mid-50s. Despite possible drawbacks like manual steering, rearward visibility, and limited cargo space, the 2018 Alfa Romeo 4C is an eye-catching ride.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.
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