- FIRST DRIVE – ALFA ROMEO 4C
A PROD of the Race mode button signals it’s time for a flash of lightning.
Left foot full on the brakes, feel the revs build as your boot goes flat to the boards – then let it rip.
Four and a half seconds later the scarlet flash hurtles towards the 70mph mark and on to 120mph as 65kg of lightweight supercar blasts into a sweeping left-hand bend and away into the distance.
This is the car Alfistas – fans of Alfa Romeo – have waited patiently to lay their hands on since it was unveiled as a concept at the Geneva Motor Show of 2011.
Now it’s ready to rock into the UK with a tab of £45,000 and the style and performance of a car costing three times the price.
The Alfa 4C is actually based on the 33 Stradale of 1967, heralded back then as being one of the most beautiful vehicles of all time.
On looks alone the 4C is a jaw-dropper – slung about as low as low gets with black five-hole alloys, red brake callipers, a body-colour spoiler and double sports exhaust.
To achieve the power to weight ratio of an authentic supercar, the 4C uses technologies and materials like carbon fibre and aluminium derived from super sports models like the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione.
Power comes via a new 240bhp, 1,750cc turbo petrol engine which is an evolution of the unit already seen in the Quadrifoglio Verde version of the Giulietta.
It includes direct fuel injection, dual continuous variable valve timing and a revolutionary scavenging control system that sees off any turbo lag.
Alfa’s TCT twin dry clutch transmission is used, including shift paddles behind the steering wheel, and the car also marks the debut of the new Alfa DNA selector which not only features the three standard settings of Dynamic, Natural and All Weather but also a Race mode designed to further enhance the driving experience on a racetrack.
The tracks in question on the press launch were actually the runways at the former RAF Jurby in the Isle of Man – and using the Race setting leaves the driver in complete control of the car by minimising the interventions of its electronic systems.
Sure, its performance is fantastic but there’s a bit of fidget – most noticeable on the uneven high-speed straight.
And while the flat-bottomed steering wheel feels tactile and balanced the composite bucket seats could do with more support.
As for size, the mid-engined coupe is close to the Alfa MiTo at just under four metres long, 200cms wide and with a wheelbase of less than 2.4 metres, putting it in the same ball park as the Lotus Elise.
Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 4.5 seconds with a top speed of 160mph and Alfa is claiming impressive fuel economy of 41.5mpg.
That figure may be rather fanciful but what’s certain is that there will be a long line of fanciers for the 4C.
All 60 of the launch edition cars have already been sold and around 200 standard production models will arrive during this year, though Alfa UK is lobbying the big guns at Turin for a greater allocation.