First Look: 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C

The Alfa Romeo 4C concept was one of the biggest stars of the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. Sexy, sporty, and allegedly destined for production, the show car excited us not only because its specifications promised incredible performance, but also because the car would be the first new Alfa Romeo sold in America under the then-nascent Fiat-Chrysler partnership. After waiting nearly two years, we finally have confirmation that the 4C is heading to the real world. Alfa Romeo will introduce the sports coupe at the Geneva Motor Show next month, and plans to start selling the car this year.

The car’s styling barely changed from the concept, and that’s a good thing. Prominent hood strakes lead into a deep V-shaped nose, while rounded headlights sit atop each of the front fenders. Scalloped air intakes aft of the doors feed the mid-mounted engine, and start the rear fenders that stand like mountain ridges at each side of the car. The two-person cockpit is small, with its rear window diving down toward the rear of the car. The wheels are composed of five connected circles that all surround a small hub. In short, it’s a beautiful design that has stayed remarkably true to the show car from two years ago.

The Alfa Romeo 4C will measure about 157.5 inches long, 78.7 inches wide, and 46.5 inches tall. That puts it on par size-wise with the perennial small sports-car benchmark, the Mazda MX-5 Miata, which measures 157.3 inches long, 67.7 wide, and 49.0 tall.

Because the chassis is made from carbon fiber and much of the car is made from aluminum, the 4C will also be extremely light. Although Alfa doesn’t quote a specific curb weight or engine output, the car has a claimed power-to-weight ratio of four kg/hp (approximately nine pounds per horsepower). That’s the same ratio as a Chevrolet Camaro SS — implying serious acceleration potential from the petite Alfa. More important, the body is said to produce downforce at speed, effectively pushing the car to the road and improving its handling.

Turbocharged, Dual-Clutch Powertrain

The name 4C was chosen in keeping with Alfa Romeo’s historic 6C and 8C racing cars, which had six- and eight-cylinder engines, respectively. So it’s only logical that the 4C uses a four-cylinder mill, in this case an all-aluminum 1.8-liter turbo-four with direct injection and dual variable valve timing. A dry dual-clutch transmission, likely with seven forward speeds, will transfer power to the car’s rear wheels.

There are few details about the interior so far, although we know it will be home to two bucket seats, paddle shifters on the steering wheel, as well as exposed carbon fiber. The driver has a switch called the Alfa DNA Selector, which toggles between four driving modes: Dynamic, Natural, All Weather, and Race. Each of the options provides a different program for the engine, transmission, and traction control.

Coming To America

The best news of all is that this car heralds the return of the Alfa Romeo brand to the U.S. The 4C will be built at Maserati’s factory in Modena, Italy, and Alfa promises the coupe goes on sale this calendar year. That means American drivers may get a chance to buy a new Alfa Romeo before Christmas.

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