Is the 4C enough to restore Alfa Romeo to its former glory?
In my lifetime, I've been told that Alfa Romeo makes amazing cars, beautiful cars that will beguile and enchant.
I've also been told that they depreciate like [UNKNOWN] and barely work.
As such, I've only ever sort of wanted three.
A Brera, a 147.
And GTA and a pretty good floored HC.
For a firm that's supposedly at the pinnacle of brilliance, that's a pretty poor show.
However, in 2011, Alfa revealed a concept for a sports car.
They called it the 4C.
All of a sudden, Alfa Romeo started making sense.
In 2011, when the Alfa 4C concept first appeared, the world was presented with a small, beautiful sports car, like the ones the company used to make in the 60s.
So when the real McCoy appeared a couple of years later, I wondered whether the Alfa I've been expected to love all these years.
The 4C is, dodgy headlamps aside, stunning.
You can't say it's not at all.
The cries that it's a miniature Ferrari or a Lotus knock-off are unfounded.
There's no way it couldn't be an Alfa Romeo.
It's curves in the right place.
The right details are there, and it's just.
Pretty, even if the interior is a little sparse.
More importantly though it's an Alfa that you want on your drive to see on the road.
That's just the looks.
The engineering is quite wonderous.
Now you see it's quite difficult to make a new car nowadays let alone.
A sports car because they have to be [INAUDIBLE] and strong, and there are various legislations that they have to meet up with.
And most tend to mean that cars tend to get pretty heavy pretty quickly.
But Alfa Romeo has managed to make a sport car they weights just 895 kilos, which is nothing.
Admittedly in America and Australia, well, they're a little heavier, because their governments like the concept of safety.
But still, it's mad.
But how could Alfa Romeo done it?
Well, less weak material.
The passenger cell, the bit you sit in is made entirely of carbon fiber.
You can see it on the floor and in the top pit all around it really.
That weighs just 65 kilos and the body is made from light weight composite which are apparently 20% lighter than steel.
It seems to be doing just as good a job.
If you're gonna commit to this light weight thing, you need to do it properly.
As such, the engine, a 1.7 liter turbocharged four pot is all-new and all-aluminium.
It's light then.
It does push the car's weight distribution backwards a touch.
There's a. 3862 rear bias but in a short, wide rear wheel drive sports car that can't possibly be a problem.
The new engine is pretty clean as well.
It emits 167 grams per kilometer of carbon dioxide and if you drive like a saint.
You'll see 41.5 MPG, allegedly.
I haven't seen that myself, but still they say it, so it must be possible somewhere.
And that is, well, it's very impressive considering the power this produces, 237 grade horsepower and 258 pound torque.
That means it's good to see the naught to 62 run in four-and-a-half seconds at top speed.
Is 160 miles hour.
There's only one transmission available in here as well.
It's a six speed [UNKNOWN] clutch jobbie with a paddle shift.
No stick shift available here, I'm afraid.
So the engineering's very impressive and if you're a nerd or like boasting at your mates in the pub, that's all well and good.
However, I want to feel as though I've finally been given an Alpha that lives up to all the hype.
The many many people telling me that if I don't own an Alpha, I've done cars properly.
That an Alpha Romeo is a special kind of car.
I want to know.
What I've been missing out on.
The last Alfa I drove was the MiTo, the small hatch-backey thing.
I drove the small diesel and slightly bigger engine quicker petrol, and they couldn't have been more different, very chalk and cheese.
However, they couldn't have also been more different from a car I actually enjoyed driving.
[UNKNOWN] They didn't conjure up images of gayly driving through the Italian countryside, and driving pleasure, and years.
Engineering pedigree that reminded me of [INAUDIBLE] music and how much I don't like doing it at all.
So it's the current new crop of Alfa Romeo's on tour rep.
But where did Alfa get his rep from?
It's an Italian mark for one, so when it comes to design, historically, Alfa's cranked out some good stuff.
Also being Italian, its praise lies in motor sport.
Not the super safe stuff we have now.
But the scary, dangerous, designed to go but not to stop stuff.
[UNKNOWN] First trip to motor sport was in 1911, [UNKNOWN].
After World War I, though, things stepped up a notch.
After the end of the first World War, Alfa started kicking all kinds of **** in competition.
1920, it saw a win at Mugello.
And a chap called Enzo Ferrari drove.
It's a very shiny out for me.
It's a second place at the [INAUDIBLE] Florida.
He didn't stop there.
It kick starts at something amazing.
For example, it took a win at the first ever Grand Prix in 1925.
Alfa's victories include 11 [INAUDIBLE], 10 [INAUDIBLE], four limo.
Ten 10 E4 championships, two BTCC champions, one DTN championship, 17 European cheering car championships and many many more.
Add some prudently beautifully designed road cars and yeah, I can see why people love them so much.
Alfa at one point or another made something that everyone could love.
Be it a beautiful road car or a stunning racer.
Has quite a bit of pedigree to live up to.
The question is, does it?
Well, let's start with the good.
It is beautiful.
Stunningly beautiful and I can't stop looking at it.
I absolutely adore the way it looks, as an autoist, I would love to have it in my house.
I like the heavy use of carbon fiber because it add a bit of engineering flare the.
The whole thing.
When everything's floating right, it's a really good car.
When you hook at the corners, when you're not going too quickly, it's a really wonderful, wonderful thing.
And, by not going too quickly, I mean comfortably.
Not very fast.
Because it has an interesting little trait, in that once you start accelerating and trying to go in a straight line, the front wheels then dictate where you want to go.
And that gets a bit unnerving.
The wheel starts grabbing and shimmying left and right.
And in the end, you end up hanging on for dear life.
[INAUDIBLE] More than actually feeling as though you're in total control.
I know that sounds overly harsh but it is something that you have to experience.
The car that I was hoping this would be would be smooth and flowing.
[INAUDIBLE] A proper sportscar.
This feels less like a super smooth racing car, and more like an untamed racer that's slightly jittery.
The ride, itself, is a little bit harsh, even though this is the comfier version of the car.
There's a racing package and there's a comfort package, and this is the more comfortable of the two.
And it just isn't.
It, it's not that comfortable or that lovely.
The brakes well initially are pretty well posh, quite grabbing.
Once you get used to them you have to be super, super careful with them.
They are within a tiny, tiny tolerance.
Once you get used to them.
That's pretty damn good.
Selecting the manual gearbox might irk some, but at least your clutch works pretty well.
It's actually remarkably spacious.
The car is very very wide.
For a small sports car.
But it does mean there's quite a bit of room.
So you can sit in here with a mate and have your own personal space.
And you don't get that in a Lotus at all.
So that's one point in the Alfa's favor.
The 4C strikes me as a halfway house between a rough edged approach that Lotus takes and the surgically sharpened methods you get attached to a Porsche badge but it lacks the bits that gives either their kudos.
It has its plus points, the looks, the whooshing engine, the steering when it isn't having an HDS outbreak, economy, and all that.
But is this the Alpha that'll get a new generation of people waxing lyrical about the company?
Would it update past glories and make Alpha the contender you want it to be?
As much as I hate to say it, it's not the one for me.
Alfa should be incredibly proud of the car its made.
It's light, it's technologically very clever.
It's beautiful and it's effing quick.
And deep within the 4C there is a really good car waiting.
When you're going properly, when you're flowing with the car, you can feel the pedigree through the wheel, you get why people bang on about how Alpha was brilliant.
And then all of a sudden, the steering goes off on it's own, and, well you wonder what the hell happened, but having said all of that, when you see one, when you hear one going properly.
You won't be able to help but want one.
It will entrap you.
The magic is there.
It's just not been seen properly, yet.
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