Friday, December 12, 2014

Alfa Romeo 4C - Introductory impressions of our newest car

We took delivery of a new Alfa Romeo 4C last week.  As many of you know, this car fits perfectly into our specialty - lightweight sportscars.  It is very much like the Lotus Elise/Exige so we have been anxious for its arrival for years.  Boutique sports cars tend to suffer from delayed introductions.  This one is no exception as it has been expected for 2+ years.  Early reports from some of my auto industry friends was that the 4C has the size/performance of the Elise but with the refinement of the Evora.  This blog will discuss the car and our initial impressions.  In a nutshell, the wait has been worth it!

We've partnered with Suspension Peformance in Mountain View, CA and purchased this car so we can jointly develop some molto tasty bits.  We've worked with them for years and know several great solutions will result.  We bought the car from Findlay Alfa in Henderson, NV as they were willing to sell us the car at sticker.  John and Greg at Findlay were great to work with.  I met some more of their staff and they truly made the delivery a great experience.  Give them a call if you are in the market (702)982-4888.

So what are the specs on this beauty?  It is expected to weigh approximately 2465lbs.  We will weigh on our scales soon and report in a future blog.  It has a 240 hp inline 4 - turbo with 6spd Auto/Man - twin clutch.  2 seats and mid engine.  The car is a Launch Edition (56/500) car so it was optioned to the hilt.  The Alfa Rosso color is a really rich red that dials up the sex appeal to 11.  

Our first stop with the 4C was to our local clear bra installer, ClearPro.  We had Lance and his team install some protection film to the front of the car and some other vulnerable areas including trunk and interior areas.  These type of cars see a fair amount of stone impingement so it is good to protect it sooner than later.

I took the 4C out for a full day of driving up to Los Angeles.  Obviously this is not the ideal first trip but I wanted to get some break-in miles on her and visit several of our vendors to get a start on product development.  Several products are in the pipeline as a result.  My driving consisted of mostly highway but I did manage to drive one canyon up in the Valley.

Driving impressions:

  • Handling
    • The car handles well.  The ride is very firm - much like a Sport Pack equipped Elise/Exige.  The suspension coupled with big wheels/low profile tires resulted in a stiff ride that I would not choose for a daily commute on rough roads.  This car was tuned for performance driving and I will take her to the track and canyons this coming week.  I suspect the standard wheels/suspension may be the better choice for cars that see more use on rough streets.
  • Brakes
    • The brake pedal felt firm and works well.  I did not attempt any panic stops but pushed hard in the canyon and they felt fine. 
  • Ergonomics
    • The seats were supportive.  The switches are all good.  The stereo has Bluetooth so it added some convenience.  I made a few calls and the performance was OK.  I was able to stream music from my phone so that made the traffic a bit more bearable.  The dead pedal is excellent. Visibility is poor to the sides and rear as expected. The dash works fine.  I still prefer old school gauges with needles.  This modern dash was good and the display changes based on the driving mode selected.
  • Shifting
    • Auto mode shifting was not very smooth.  Not sure if this ECU is learning my driving style and then will get better?  Switching into the Manual mode was far better.  Shifts were fast and smooth.  Though I did appreciate Auto while stuck in LA traffic jams.  
  • Acceleration
    • The car is fast!  Mid-range torque seems excellent as the car is always willing to accelerate like a scalded cat.  It feels as fast as any stock Elise/Exige.
  • Comfort
    • Seats are comfortable.  The car is loud inside.  It is not as quiet as the Lotus Evora - much more like an Elise.  Tire noise and frankly exhaust drone was the biggest contributor.  I think that 6th gear cruising on the freeway with this exhaust was not great.  Lack of interior storage is a clear issue with the car.  This car is really focused on being a fun to drive toy than a daily driver - no surprise.
  • Fit & Finish
    • The 4C has a very nice interior.  This is the Launch Edition so it has several carbon parts that really make it look great.  The interior carbon tub was much better finished than an early model I had seen.  The quality of the interior materials is good.  Panel gaps are OK.  The wheels look good to me though it seems the younger crowd does not like them as much as older guys like me - they remind me of older wheels found on other cool sportscars.
  • Sound
    • The exhaust sound good at idle.  After that it is not really that exciting.  Wastegate and turbo noises emanate from the rear of the car.  I think folks who like these sounds will be happy - I'm less enthusiastic. 
We placed the 4C on the lift and began discovering other things that will get covered in future blogs.  I plan to take her to Spring Mtn next weekend and run on track.  I expect it to be plenty of fun!  

Overall I am pleased with this car.  Alfa have struck a good balance.  Yes, it is heavier than the Elise/Exige but it still feels much lighter than an Evora.  The car feels small and nimble and performs like a true Elise alternative.  The lack of a manual is a drag but the future is paddle shift and frankly, it helps broaden the market appeal for a car as narrowly focused as the 4C.  Good job Alfa - thank you for bringing a light sportscar to the US!


Linda Marrero said...

Hi, very usefully information, keep it continue. Alfa Romeo latest model year for 2016

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C
2016 Alfa Romeo Giulia
2016 Alfa Romeo Giulietta
2016 Alfa Romeo MiTo
2016 Alfa Romeo MiTo Quadrifoglio Verde
2016 Alfa Romeo Spider 4C

Octavio Johnson said...

When it comes to luxury cars, Alfa Romeo is the best for me.

Paige Hollingsworth said...

What a great review of the Alfa Romeo 4C. I really enjoyed the great shots you got of the car, but the descriptions are what make this article truly great. I am very glad you subdivided your review into different sections. The brake section is great to know about; knowing that it’s firm, but that you cannot testify for harsh brakes.

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