GENEVA--If you can't afford a Ferrari, the Alfa Romeo 4C may be just the thing to satisfy any Italian sports car lust. Alfa Romeo showed this car off two years ago in Geneva as a concept, and this year brings the real thing to life. Very little has changed from the concept car, a rarity in the automotive world.
The most unfortunate detail are these headlight casings, odd matte-black pieces pierced with holes for the main projector, signal, and parking lights. The lack of a lens over the whole casing makes the design look even more out of place.
Headlights aside, the 4C should be an impressive performer, as its carbon fiber tub, aluminum suspension elements, and composite body panels keep the overall weight down to about 2,000 pounds.
The 4C is a rear-wheel-drive car with weight distribution of 40 percent front and 60 percent rear. Alfa Romeo chose to do without power steering as a weight-saving measure, which means the wheel will likely have some heft to it.
The engine sits under the rear canopy, its covers visible through the rear window. This position leads to the aforementioned 40/60 weight distribution. The 4C uses a turbocharged direct injection 1.75-liter four cylinder, good for 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Alfa Romeo says the 4C will hit 62 mph in 4.5 seconds.
Alfa Romeo hangs a dual-clutch automated manual transmission off the engine. The driver can shift it sequentially, using paddles on the steering wheel, or leave it in automatic.
Alfa Romeo had the 4C's carbon fiber tub on display at the auto show. This piece forms the cockpit for the two-seater and adds rigidity to the overall structure. Aluminum front and rear suspension pieces bolt on to the tub.
Along with drive mode buttons, the 4C will feature what Alfa Romeo calls the DNA selector, which includes Sport and Race settings. The car also appears to use an LCD instrument cluster.