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Alfa Romeo 4C Review

Find out more about the Alfa Romeo 4C in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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7
Out of 10
Average Price £44,806
Model Review

With styling cues from the 8C Competizione, the Alfa Romeo 4C was first seen as a concept in 2011 at the Geneva Motor Show before the full reveal at the same event in 2013.

It had a slightly toned down exterior design, but it was nonetheless spectacular to look at and is a stunning car to look at.

Weighing less than most city cars, the 4C is designed to make the most of its 1.7-litre 237bhp turbocharged petrol engine and with that comes good performance, impressive handling and good fuel economy.

In 2015 Alfa released a convertible version, which was slightly heavier but came with the same amount of power as the coupe.

Value for money

As the model hasn’t changed too much in its tenure – if at all – you may be able to find some cheaper version of the 4C with low mileage that can entice you away from paying the full list price.

From standard you get Alfa’s own sound system, radio with voice recognition and Bluetooth, cup holder, electric front windows, six-speed automatic gearbox with paddles, airbags, vehicle dynamic control, carbon fibre detailing, digital instrument display and leather steering wheel.

That may not be that much in the grand scheme of things, but the 4C was built to be as light as possible and the lack of equipment is due to the ethos that Alfa wanted to pursue with this vehicle. Prices for new models start from £52,820.

The only differentiation you will find on the used market is models fitted with optional extras, such as different seat material, body colours and cosmetic features. One such example on the used market is a 2015 model that has covered just 878 miles and comes in Rosso Competitione with the additional suede interior. Although this version doesn’t come with many optional extras, the asking price is £42,950, showing that it is much cheaper than a new model despite the additional extras.

 

Looks and image

There is a general consensus among the motoring community about Alfa design – it is usually excellent and the 4C is no different. In fact, in their incredibly attractive line-up, the 4C could be Alfa’s show piece. It is quintessential Alfa from all angles with the beautifully sculpted front end, short overhangs and exquisite lines – the 4C is truly superb to look at.

Inspired by the short-lived 8C, it is a further refined evolution of that design. But the wide body gives an imposing stance on the road that gives it an air of a proper supercar, despite its smaller outlay.

The interior design doesn’t quite live up to the outer shell, but it gets you in the zone as you feel involved with the low-slung seating position and cocooning sports seats.

With the lightweight carbon fibre tub, you get the sports car feel many are after with the 4C, but the lack of assistance with the steering can make it a bit of a struggle at slower speeds. When you get on the open road though, the 4C grips, steers and holds very well and is an enjoyable car to drive.

You may think the small 1.75-litre turbocharged engine won’t offer enough power, but it certainly does as the car weighs less than 900kg. The grip can fade away from the front end if you corner at higher speeds, which can put a cap on your fun, but you feel involved and the car feels lively and enjoyable.

As you would expect from a stripped out sports car, refinement isn’t the best and especially as Alfa wanted to make it as light as possible the glass is thinner than normal so road and tyre noise is obvious.

Also if you want to have a more comfortable ride, don’t go for the Race Pack as it adds firmer suspension and a stiffer setup, which can make the ride really quite uncomfortable. Not to say it is wholly comfortable anyway, but the standard setup is much easier to live with. The seats are a good point though, with either the leather or suede seats offering a more liveable experience than you might think from a stripped out sports car.

 

Space and practicality

It’s safe to say you don’t buy the 4C for practicality and it isn’t a good day-to-day car at all. With just over 100 litres of boot space – i.e. not much at all – and limited storage options in the cabin, the 4C will barely get a load of shopping in, but that really isn’t the point of the car. There’s also only one other seat, so it isn’t great for families either.

Due to its low production run the 4C hasn’t been tested by EuroNCAP but thanks to its carbon fibre tub it will do well in the event of an accident. Also coming with two airbags and traction control, the 4C doesn’t come with a stack of safety system, but the rigid and lightweight shell will do a good job if needed.

Engines

There’s only one option on the engine front, and although it doesn’t sound that appealing, the 237bhp 1.75-litre turbocharged engine offers plenty of poke and you won’t feel like its underpowered at all. Paired with the lightweight 4C, the engine gets you from 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds and it doesn’t feel slow at any point.

The top speed is 160mph, but with the power on offer it was never going to threaten the higher echelons. Torque output is also pretty good, with peak torque coming quite low down in the rev range. Also the sound is raspy, exciting and very enjoyable, but if you pick the Race Pack the sports exhaust can drone and not be as pleasant.

 

Running costs

For such an impressively performing car, the running costs are surprisingly good and the efficiency and emission statistics are equally so. With fuel figures of 41mpg and emissions of 157g/km CO2, it is impressive to say the least for a performance model and that means road tax costs of £500 in the first year. It decreases to £450 for every year after due to the car costing over £40,000. It fits into the top insurance group due to its expensive carbon fibre structure and expected expense if the model was crashed.

 

Things to look out for

Alfa in recent years has become pretty reliable, despite build quality not being up to scratch on certain occasions. The 4C is quite simple in structure and design, so few things can go wrong with it. But there is a niggling thought that will always go on if your car has an Alfa badge on it, so keep an eye out for any potential disruption.

Rivals

Only three rivals spring to mind for the 4C – the Lotus Exige, Audi’s TT RS and the main rival Porsche’s 718 Cayman. The Porsche is a standout model in this market and the 4C does fall short on overall quality and performance, but for something a bit different it is probably the best of the rest, despite the TT RS’s refinement.

 

Depreciation warning

Due to its relative desirability and low build number, the 4C can hold its value well after three years at around 50 per cent. But the rival Porsche Cayman can do better due to its durability and badge presence, as well as reliability.

Which 4C to Pick

Trims Explained

As the 4C comes with a line-up of standard features, the only differentiation you can make is with the additional options you fit. You get the choice of seven body colours, five interior seat choices and four alloy options so you can put your stamp on your model, but you’re likely to find a used model that comes with the design you’re looking for as there isn’t much choice to go with.

Variants and Extras

Many of the optional extras aren’t worth the expense as they can take away the pure essence of the 4C’s purpose of being a lightweight sports car. But you can add racing suspension – to make it more uncomfortable but slightly more tactile if you took it to a track – and racing tyres for added performance, as well as an Akrapovic titanium exhaust system for an even more raucous racket.

In Summary

  1. One of the best looking modern sports cars
  2. Is outshone by the Porsche 718 Cayman in most aspects
  3. Fun to drive
  4. Firm ride
  5. Simple, if not bland, interior design
  6. Good fuel economy for a sports car
  7. But relatively high running costs
  8. Carbon fibre tub makes it safe
  9. Can find good value used options
  10. Only get the option of six-speed flappy paddle gearbox