Saturday 27 December 2014

Slick 4C has supercar looks and drive for the price of a luxury saloon, writes Philip Hedderman

Phil Hedderman

Published 14/08/2014 | 08:27

The 4C is sleek, smart and voluptuous you'll fall deeper in love.

CORRECT me if I’m wrong, but is this not the most magnificent machine you’ve ever seen?

The pictures just don’t do it justice. It’s Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson and Sofia Vergara all rolled into one.

She’s sleek, smart and voluptuous – all at the same time. Like a genuine work of art, every time one stands back to admire the sheer beauty of it one discovers yet another strategically placed crease or scoop that makes you fall deeper in love.

Yes, this is the all-new Alfa Romeo 4C and is destined to be a true classic.

The suits in parent company FIAT/Chrysler have finally seen the light and it’s back to basics for the Italian outfit who have made some spectacular sports cars. Designed and engineered by Alfa Romeo and built at the Maserati plant in Modena, the mid-engined 4C is a true revelation. Although only 1,750cc, the all-aluminium turbo-charged unit generates a modest 240bhp.

CARBON

Thanks to its space-age design, the kerb weight is an astounding 895kg – giving the 4C go-kart-like dimensions.

The whole chassis (or one-piece monocoque) is made from carbon fibre (weighing just 65kg), the bodywork is made from the F1-derived SMC (Sheet Moulding Compound) which is lighter than both steel and aluminium, and even the thickness of the glass has been slimmed down by 15pc to keep her nimble.

Climb inside and it is a similar affair, with almost every creature comfort stripped out. A thick flat-bottomed steering wheel with flappy paddles is the centrepiece nestled in front of a digital display with all your vital stats. The automatic gearbox is operated through a series of four buttons – 1, N, R, A/M (auto/manual). Drive select is the familiar Alfa set-up of DNA (Dynamic, Normal, All-Weather) but with Race and Launch mode.

Four or five old-fashioned toggle switches are peppered around the tunnelled console and the door handles are pull straps. Sink into the half leather and suede bucket seat and you’ll notice the carbon fibre tub surrounding you – a gentle reminder of just how special this two-door coupe really is.

Turn the key (yep, none of yer push-button nonsense) and the magic begins to manifest itself.

You are immediately greeted by a symphony of growls, snorts, hisses and pops that instantly put a smile on your face. Bury the aluminium pedal into the floor and it’s motoring nirvana as this little pocket rocket takes off. Not surprisingly, the 0-100kph sprint takes just 4.5 seconds and the top speed of 257 is impressive, but it’s how that power is delivered is what blew me away – literally. The massive 350Nm of torque arrives between 2,100 and 4,000rpm with 80pc delivered by 1,800. Twin those levels of poke to the latest-generation Alfa TCT dry (twin clutch transmission) and you have rocket-like propulsion.

But the handling and the ride are what make the 4C an exceptional car. Pinpoint precision is the only way to describe the steering, which initially felt heavy and awkward while parking but at full throttle connects driver and machine like no other vehicle.

There is zero body roll, practically no under-steer and the grip is astounding. Quirky little touches like 19-inch alloys on the back and 18-inch ones on the front just make the whole experience a uniquely Alfa one.

 

But the biggest lure of all is the price – at €69,900 you’ve got a supercar for the price if a 530D BMW.

 

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