Alfa fans have waited a long time to hear it, but Alfa Romeo will finally return to the U.S. automotive market this summer. The Italian automaker introduced the Alfa Romeo 4C sport coupe at the 2014 New York auto show, alongside a special Launch Edition model that will go on sale in June.
Like the standard mid-engine 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C coupe that we've already seen and sampled in Europe, the 4C Launch Edition employs a peppy, all-aluminum, 237-hp, 1.7-liter direct-injection turbo-four that drives the rear wheels through a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. However, as our European bureau chief Georg Kacher observed, “the Alfa Romeo 4C's trump card is a waiflike curb weight of roughly 2500 pounds.” Thanks to a rigid carbon-fiber tub designed with Formula 1 and exotic supercars in mind, the Alfa Romeo 4C's low mass helps deliver a razor-sharp, unfiltered directness that’s rare for a modern car—how many other performance cars today can do without power steering?
The 4C Launch Edition, which will arrive on U.S. shores in June in a limited run of just 500 units, adds a laundry list of distinct upgrades reserved for the loyal North American “Alfisti.” Available in Alfa Red, Rosso Competizione, or Madreperla White exterior paint, the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Launch Edition features Bi-xenon LED-accented headlamps, a carbon fiber rear spoiler with matching mirror caps, and an aluminum rear diffuser. Alfa Romeo also added a racing suspension with front- and rear-sway bars with performance shocks for the 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels with red brake calipers.
A racing exhaust supplies the all-important aural sensation, while the exposed carbon-fiber tub, sport seats, and leather-wrapped instrument and door panels fill the compact cabin with a sporty atmosphere. Red or white accent stitching for the steering wheel, instrument panel, door handles, floor mats, and handbrake bring an additional level of excitement. Each of the 500 Launch Edition 4C models also has a special plaque bearing its serial number.
Although its 4.5-second 0-60 mph sprint and 160 mph top speed and 24/34/28 mpg (city/highway/combined) rating are intriguing, the 4C brings something different to the sports car table. “Although it is close in concept to the recently departed Lotus Exige and will inevitably draw comparisons with the more polished and more expensive Porsche Cayman, the Alfa Romeo 4C is a unique offering in its class,” said senior editor Joe Lorio when he drove the 4C last year. “No other sports car combines this raw immediacy, surprising affordability, and Italian sex appeal.”
This Launch Edition will start at roughly $70,000 when it reaches select Maserati and Fiat dealerships in June, and only after all 500 examples have sold will Alfa begin selling the standard 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C. Alfa expects that might happen around fall 2014. A representative told Automobile that the standard version of the sexy Italian sports coupe will start at around $54,000. Stay tuned for more details after Alfa’s press conference at the 2014 New York auto show on April 17.