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- Highs Sexy Italian styling, razor-sharp handling, vintage sports-car feel.
- Lows No manual transmission, harsh ride, almost no storage space.
- Verdict The Alfa Romeo 4C is a purist's car that puts driving pleasure above everything else.
After a 20-year absence, Alfa Romeo returned to the U.S. market in 2015, leading off with the 4c, a beautifully designed mid-engine sports car, as its halo. The two-seat coupe and spider are to be built for one generation only, to re-establish the storied brand as a worthy BMW competitor, rather than a fancier Fiat. For roughly the price of two Mazda Miatas, the 4c comes with minimal sound deadening and no power steering, cruise control, or spare tire, all in the name of hard-edged, low-weight driver engagement. Counterintuitively, there’s no manual transmission available, only a six-speed dual-clutch automatic with steering-wheel paddle shifters.
What's New for 2017?
For 2017, Alfa Romeo has added an Alpine premium audio system with a subwoofer to the 4c’s options list, as well as a Giallo Prototipo yellow exterior paint option and available carbon-fiber roof. There are also two new wheel designs available: silver fan spoke alloys and dark fan spoke alloys.
- Base: $57,495
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Alfa 4C is powered by a 237-hp turbocharged 1.75-liter inline four-cylinder engine that comes mated only to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Despite the engine’s diminutive displacement, the turbo four manages a 4.2-second 0-60 mph time and quarter-mile sprint of 12.9-seconds at 107 mph, according to the C/D stopwatch. But the Alfa's real forte is revealed in the twisties. The 4C's handling is electrifying; it darts through corners like an open-wheel racing machine. But the ride is very stiff, and at low speeds the steering is enormously heavy, so routine parking tasks require embarrassing amounts of time and effort.
EPA fuel-economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest numbers on current and older vehicles, visit the EPA’s website and select Find & Compare Cars.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
With a wheelbase of just 93.7 inches and height of 46.7 inches, you must be in reasonably good shape to enter or exit the Alfa 4c, and once inside you'll find it not particularly comfortable. The interior is tight, with well-bolstered racing-style chairs whose bottoms are a bit flat. The cabin is a minimalist throwback, with very few modern electronic driver aids. But the controls are all within easy reach, and standard features include a full set of gauges, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and metal-look trim. Available packages add a few items, like cruise control, parking sensors, and carbon-fiber interior trim. There’s no rear trunk, only a small trunk in front that can accommodate two duffle bags at best. The Alfa 4c has been described as a sports car that is not built for cross-country travel, though some highly adventurous purists might be willing to try.
Infotainment and Connectivity
If the Alfa 4c’s performance, handling, and unsurpassed fun-to-drive quotient doesn’t distract you from its basic, out-of-date infotainment system, you are not the right customer for this car. The tight interior does have an infotainment system with a touchscreen, but that’s about it. Standard features are limited to Bluetooth, a USB port, and a four-speaker stereo. For an upgrade, the 4C can be ordered with an optional Alpine audio system that includes a CD player and a subwoofer.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.