New Car Reviews

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C – Four Seasons Introduction

Pleasure spiked with pain.

Long-Term 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Update: Spring 2015 Array Miles to date: 0

Austro-German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in the late 1800s coined the word “masochism” after reading Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s novella, “Venus in Furs,” which centered on characters who derived pleasure from pain and discomfort. Masochism, pervasively thought to be pernicious and proscribed, must excite us. Why else would we want a 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C as a member of our Four Seasons fleet?

You can see the 4C’s exposed carbon-fiber monocoque, so the scarcity of sound-deadening materials is evident. The turbocharged 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine shoved behind the passenger cell yowls and shrieks between each quick-but-coarse shift from the six-speed dual-clutch transaxle. The 4C’s 10.5-gallon fuel tank is tiny. Its rear window is essentially useless. The non-power steering is hyperactive, and the infotainment system is incompetent. Seats are wafer thin, and the trunk is barely big enough for one overnight bag.
We had no illusions about the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C when we named it one of our 2015 All-Stars. Calling it imperfect is too kind, yet it coddles its occupants, especially 6-foot-plus tall ones, far more than a Lotus Elise, for example. Don’t be surprised if our time with the Alfa witnesses uproarious discord between editors with bruised lower backs and those who do not care, as the 4C is far more than its flaws.

The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is a carbon-fiber sports car built in Maserati’s Modena, Italy, factory that valets will park in front of your city’s hottest club. It’s low and wide, and 15 inches shorter than a Porsche Cayman. Its turbocharger whistles loudly in your ear before its bypass valve coughs viciously between gears. Its optional $500 racing exhaust, which axes an entire muffler, sounds like exploding firecrackers in a tin bucket. The 4C’s base price starts at less than $60,000, and even a long list of options — from a $2,750 leather package and $1,800 convenience package to $300 for black brake calipers and $700 for red paint — couldn’t raise our 4C’s as-tested price past $65,000, making it the cheapest all-new exotic you can buy.

At first, the 4C’s engagement factor helped us most to overlook its practical shortcomings. Few merriments, no frivolities, just an exhilarating drive, one quarantined from today’s silicon plague. This Alfa serves as stark reminder of what a stripped-out sports car can be, of what simple joy means, and the difference between driving a car and steering a conveyance.
Real life is inconvenient, however. What will we think while dealing with daily mundane tasks? Will the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C be the kind of car that grabs your medulla and squeezes every last drop of adrenaline out regardless of whether you’re going around a road course, around town, or along the highway? Or will it be a size-too-small, decibel-too-high, four-cylinder faux Ferrari that loses its appeal before its first service?

We do not expect salvation at the end of this test, and the wary among us have already started piggy-banking to pay for their anticipated hearing aids and chiropractic bills. The 4C, the first Alfa Romeo sold in the States since the 164 sedan in 1995 (not counting the uber-limited 8C in 2008), is seductive, not sensible, and it might just beat the shit out of us. But we are dedicated to the cause: It’s time find out how masochistic we really are.

Overview

  • Body style 2-door mid-engine rear-wheel-drive coupe
  • Accommodation 2-passenger
  • Construction Carbon-fiber monocoque w/aluminum front and rear cell structures
  • Base price (with dest.) $55,195
  • As tested $64,445

Powertrain

  • Engine 16-valve DOHC turbocharged I-4
  • Displacement 1.7 liters (106 cu in)
  • Power 237 hp @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque 258 lb-ft @ 2,200-4,250 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
  • Drive Rear-wheel
  • EPA Fuel Economy 24/34/28 (city/hwy/combined)

Chassis

  • Steering Unassisted
  • Lock-to-lock 2.7 turns
  • Turning circle 40.5 ft
  • Suspension, Front Control arms, coil springs
  • Suspension, Rear Strut-type, coil springs
  • Brakes F/R Vented discs
  • Wheels 17- and 18-inch aluminum
  • Tires Pirelli P Zero
  • Tire size 205/45R-17 88Y, 235/40R-18 95Y

Measurements

  • Headroom 38.0 in
  • Legroom 42.7 in
  • Shoulder room 49.8 in
  • Wheelbase 93.7 in
  • Track F/R 64.5/63.1 in
  • L x W x H 157.5 x 73.5 x 46.6 in
  • Cargo capacity 3.7 cu ft
  • Weight 2465 lb
  • Weight dist. F/R 41/59%
  • Fuel capacity 10.6 gal
  • Est. fuel range 300 miles
  • Fuel grade 91 octane (premium)

Equipment

  • standard equipment

    • Sheet molding compound composite body panels
    • Anodized rear skid plate
    • Variable intermittent single-blade windshield wiper
    • Halogen headlights
    • Air conditioning
    • Aluminum interior trim
    • Embroidered floor mats
    • USB port
    • Auxiliary audio jack
    • 12-volt outlet
    • 7-inch TFT display
    • Lat-g, boost, and oil-pressure monitoring systems
    • 4-speaker audio system
    • Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity
    • Cloth seats w/carbon-fiber and fiberglass shells
    • Flat-bottom steering wheel w/paddle shifters
    • Dynamic, all-weather, natural, and race driving modes
    • Brembo front brakes w/4-piston gray calipers and drilled rotors
    • TRW rear brakes w/gray calipers and drilled rotors
    • Dual exhaust
    • Engine oil cooling system
    • Sport-tuned suspension
    • Launch control system
    • Hill-start assist

Options

  • options for this vehicle:

    • Leather package- $2,750
    • Black leather–wrapped instrument panel and door panels
    • Convenience package- $1,800
    • Cruise control
    • Rear parking assist
    • Premium audio system
    • Alarm
    • Bi-xenon headlights- $1,000
    • Red leather seats- $1,000
    • Rosso exterior paint- $700
    • Matte black 17- and 18-inch aluminum wheels- $700
    • Exterior package- $500
    • Decklid spoiler
    • Satin titanium mirrors
    • Racing exhaust- $500
    • Black brake calipers- $300