By Cars.com EditorsAugust 20, 2014
About the video
For its first U.S. offering in roughly two decades, Alfa Romeo returns to the fold with a supercar in the 2015 4C -- and it’s got all the supercar hallmarks.
(upbeat music) Alfa Romeo hasn't sold a car in the United States since the mid 1990s. But it is back and it is back big with the 2015 4C Coupe. Now this is being positioned as something of a supercar.
What is the supercar? Well, typically it has exotic looks, check, it has exotic performance, check and it has an extremely high price tag. This car starts with destination at just over $55,000. That's not a bad thing. Now, the 4C is a mid-engine coupe. That is something that's still rare in the American market. Its best known competitor is the Porsche Cayman. Like the Cayman, it is mid engine, meaning the engine is behind the cabin, but slightly in front of the center line of the rear axle. And you can see it right through the window. So what powers this little supercar? It is a 1.75 liter four cylinder engine. If you can believe it. Now, even though it's that small, it puts out 273 horsepower, 285 pounds feed of torque. It does that because it is turbocharged and it takes more than 21 pounds of boost. That's a lot from 91 octane gasoline. Now you'll also notice back here is your only cargo area. This happens to be a car cover. It has about 3.7 cubic feet of storage. That is really, really, really small. The Porsche Cayman has for example, 15, between a rear and front trunk and even a Mazda Miata has five. Now alpha has gone to great lengths to keep this car lightweight. And one of the ways they've done that is with the use of carbon fiber. Now we're not talking about a carbon fiber roof or hood, or certainly not trim. We're talking about the tub, the structure of this car. You can see it on the sill here, the door jam just about everywhere. That is a big, big step to reduce weight while maintaining strength, the body panels are composite. Another step to keep things light. One of the things I find interesting about the 4C is how much it combines a super modern technology, like a highly turbo boosted, four cylinder engine and the carbon fiber with some old school stuff. Kinda like how hard it is to get in and out. It's a very wide sill. It's a very low car. Now, once you're in, if you are a taller person, you actually not in bad shape, plenty of leg room, head room is a bit limited, certainly. One of the hallmarks of a mid-engine car is excellent handling and Alfa Romeo takes it to another level with manual steering. Manual steering is something you don't see that much anymore. It is both a step to minimize weight and also to improve feedback. Aside from it needing more muscle at low speeds, you do get a lot more feedback, which is fantastic. It's a very direct feel, but you also tend to have to work at it a little bit more. Part of having that feedback is the steering wheel the whole system reacts to hitting bumps and such. So on the highway, you're doing a little bit more work and that actually can add to a fatigue factor. If you're trying to drive this car as a daily driver. Fortunately, the car is really controllable with the manual steering. The only real X factor is a little bit of turbo lag. So you get sometimes a peak that'll start to kick the rear end out, but you can counter it, get it back under control. For a car with that much weight in the back it's both entertaining and pretty safe. Now one of the ways that the 4C is a little bit old school is the ride quality. You can get a new sporty or sports car these days that rides really nicely. This one, even with the regular suspension, it's called the sports suspension, but it's not the racing suspension. It rides very firmly. It's certainly livable. If you're buying a car like this, you might not mind, but you're not going to mistake this for something else. 0 to 60 is between four and five seconds. You hit the gas and it goes like a rocket. Bangs off shifts with the dual clutch automated manual transmission. Very quickly with a great bark sound, really nice. Now purists are going to wish they had a stick shift. I unfortunately, I'm going to have to agree, but as these dual clutch automatic schoo, it's a pretty good one. There's no idle creep. When you come off the brake, it just kind of sits there until you give it some gas. But the transition isn't bad. The upshifts again, very quick. The downshifts are a little bit of a disappointment I must say. In the regular mode, they can be a little bit slow. And if you use the shift paddles on the steering wheel here, sometimes it'll stair-step a bit down multiple gears. That does get a little bit better when you change the mode. The 4C's driving modes are controlled via a DNA selector. That stands out, we'll start with A, that is for all weather use and it cuts back on the throttle makes the shift program or you know, a minimal to snow conditions, etcetera. Beyond that there's the N, which is for natural. I would just call it normal mode. And then if you hold the toggle switch up that's dynamic mode. What that gives you is it holds onto gears into higher revs, gives you a more sensitive throttle, etcetera, the obvious stuff. Now you can also go into a race mode by holding that switch up all the way and that just styles up those settings a notch more and turns off the electronic stability control. Now the interior quality has gotten a lot of knocks for the base version, but I have to say for 27,50 you can get the leather package, which adds a leather upholstery to the doors, the dash, we have leather seats in this one. The bolsters are pretty prominent, reasonably comfortable seats overall, I must say. I find the upper ones a little bit restrictive, but I feel like you do need them because there's not much bracing in the car, you can't get your leg against the door. It's so far over here. The center console is kinda low. Overall I think the quality is good. Note that this test car is optioned up to over $64,000. And one of the option packages is the convenience package for 1800. It includes things like cruise control, a backup sensor system, which is definitely welcome because there's practically no rear visibility and a premium stereo that both doesn't sound good and I could not for the life of me figure it out. I mean, I didn't. Does that is supposed to come off? Now, if you're looking for things like cabin storage, there's really one cup holder, which is nice. This one is not so much of a cup holder, other storage options. I don't know what you'd call this a pocket, a sleeve, something like that. And oh, here I found the cabin storage it's here. Now there are a lot of cars out there that don't photograph as well as they look in person. This one photographs pretty well. But when you see it in person, it really is stunning, but it is not a car you buy just because you want a pretty car. Because of what it's like to get in and out, the stiff ride and especially the manual steering, you gotta really want it. There are definitely quieter cars. There are more refined cars and actually the Porsche Cayman is one of them. But what I have to say is this car has a lot of heart. It's a visceral experience. And between the sound and the manual steering, you never forget that it's a machine. And for that, I kind of love it. (car engine roaring)