Cooley On Cars
On the road: Alfa Romeo 4CAlfa Romeo is back in the US, and Brian Cooley explains how its 4C sets the table for models yet to come.
[MUSIC]. This is how Alpha is setting the table for its US comeback. With a mini super car, this dead manual rack and pinion steering, you almost never find that anymore. Let's drive the Alpha 4C, check this out. [MUSIC] Okay. Anatomy of a super car x. In the middle is a carbon fiber tub. That's where you sit. On either end, are aluminum sub frames. That's what connects you to the rest of the car. Behind you is the engine. Behind that you're gonna find a very small, and the only trunk. It's one place you wouldn't take a lemon meringue pie to the track back there. You gotta put that on the passenger seat. The trunk looks like a trunk. It's not. There's just apparatus in there. It only comes off with tools. Two people. No plus two. Now while the 4C is little, its body feel is not. Getting across that thing is like taking a trip cross country. But once you're in. It's snug but not tight. You've got an LCD and rather compact instrument panel up there. It's kinda gaudily rendered but it gets the information across. The head unit is on afterthought, in fact it's after market. That's a Parrot Asteroid. Antoine reviewed one of those. Years ago. Got a little bit of app support, but it's kind of a weird little outlier. Obviously not the point of the car. The drive controls are. You've got asymmetrical paddles, down shift left, up shift is on the right. Here is your transmission drive control for your dual clutch automated manual. One is the same as drive, puts you in first gear. There's no. Park, neutral, reverse, and then your automatic or manual switch over mode. And like many other cars, if you grab a shift while you're in automatic, it holds for a few seconds in manual mode and drops back to auto. This is an interesting control down here. You can tell somebody at Apple is in love with the idea of having a control called DNA and what it does is control the cars drive mode, its DNA. D is gonna be dynamic mode and down one more gets you into what they call natural mode. And how do you make A work? What is that? Eh, it's kinda tortured it's all weather mode. Go up to dynamic though, hang onto that guy for like five seconds, and there is the easter egg. You get into race mode. Now your ABS and your stability control are both turned off. You better know your car well first. [MUSIC] Huge part of the story on the 4C of course lies back here in the engine bay. Mid engine car [INAUDIBLE] Rear wheel drive. One choice on the transmission. It's a six speed dual clutch automated manual. Now, the engine, itself, 1750 cc, inline four turbo charged, of course. It's also got direct injection and multiport fuel injection. The idea is that each of those is better at different parts of the RPM range. Driving load range, so the car will alternate back and forth to blend them. The numbers: 237 horse, 258 pound feet of torque. Get this car that weighs about 2,500 pounds up to 60 in around 4.5 seconds. Now, note that if you're one of our European or rest of the world viewers. . Your 4C weighs a lot less. Over 350 pounds less because in the US we have a lot of crash standard apparatus. Especially at the front and rear ends. And of course we're loaded up with air conditioning [UNKNOWN] of these that you can strip out in other markets. In a car like this, that matters. A lot. The fuel economy if you care [UNKNOWN] 24 city, 34 highway. That's actually really good. So you're getting a really fast, exotic car, that sips gas. What's not to love? [MUSIC] First thing you notice on the 4C, which you may be hearing, are all these glorious noises. You've got the spooling of the turbo. You've got the whooshing at the intake. You've got the pop off valves blasting off once in a while as they bleed off excess boost. This is the nearest thing to the sound you get in a Veyron. That's exactly what it reminds me of. The next thing you're aware of is the steering. It's high-ratio, completely unassisted. Tuck into a corner like this and the precision is amazing. There is prodigious power here, but unless. You keep it on the boil, you're very aware of turbo lag. It's not like it's not there, as either Alfa or some other reviewers will tell you. But, in a car like this, it's not a big impediment because you're happy to keep it tooled up, keep your foot in it. Alfa Romeo doesn't plan to come back to the US as a value brand, but they kind of have. This car is a screeching deal for its exotic engineering and extremely wearable handling. We;re looking at about 55 to base and then there's three things we'd add because CNET style. The Convenience Package is 1,800 bucks. That'll get you park distance sensors, the only parking help you can get on this car, better speakers, an alarm and cruise control. Americans like that stuff. The track package for 2,400 gets you a firmer performance suspension, some carbon fiber trim I could live without, and a rear spoiler. And if the base exhaust isn't rowdy enough for you, 500 bucks gets you the sport exhaust, so your neighbors will fully hate you. All in about 60 grand for one of the most distinctive cars that we've ever driven. And perhaps one of the most responsive ones you ever will. [MUSIC] More cars driven CNet style, standing by now on CNETTOnCars.com. Click on the road. [MUSIC]