NEW YORK—The 2014 New York Auto Show marked the U.S. debut of the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C coupe, and with it the Alfa Romeo brand’s return to the North American market. Alfa Romeo parent company Fiat is planning to offer the 4C in select U.S. Fiat dealerships, where it will certainly look racy alongside the cheeky 500 and 500L.
The 4C (that name pays tribute to the 8C and 6C eight- and six-cylinder race cars of Alfa Romeo’s past) is a low-slung, mid-engined, two-seat sports car with a decidedly exotic feel. The sole engine is a turbocharged direct-injection 4-cylinder that displaces 1750 cc (approximately 1.8 liters) and puts out 237 horsepower. It’s connected to Alfa’s TCT twin-clutch automated-manual transmission that features paddle shifters.
The 4C’s performance personality can be dialed in to one of four drive modes via the Alfa DNA selector system. All-weather mode is designed to maximize control in inclement weather conditions by enabling softer throttle response and calibrating engine and brake-control logic to match road speed. Natural mode is essentially the default everyday-driving setting. Dynamic mode enables sharper driving performance via more-aggressive drivetrain calibration and a less-intrusive stability-control setting. Race mode is an all-out competition setting that deactivates the antiskid and traction control systems and dials in quick, aggressive gear shifts. Selecting Race mode also enables the driver to activate a launch-control feature for optimal acceleration from a standing start. Alfa Romeo claims a top speed of 160 mph, 0-60-mph sprints in the mid-4-second range, and 1.1g on the skidpad.
Lightweight materials are used throughout the 4C’s structure. The windshield and side windows are made of glass that is 10 percent thinner than normal, most body panels are made from SMC (Sheet Molded Compound) composite material, and the chassis is constructed of carbon-fiber and aluminum.
In addition to the regular-line model, Alfa Romeo is planning to release a specially trimmed 4C Launch Edition that will be limited to 500 examples. The 4C will be built in Modena, Italy, and is slated to arrive in dealerships this June. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.
CG Says: This uncompromising Eurocentric sports car certainly looks dazzling, but re-launching an Italian brand that most Americans have never heard of (or worse, have bad memories of) in the U.S. market will be no small task. The 4C promises to be a truly exhilarating drive, but a potentially steep price and the X factor of the Alfa Romeo brand will likely limit its sales.