Car Awards

Alfa Romeo 4C: 2015 AUTOMOBILE All-Star

Unapologetic, unfettered, unfiltered.

It was only after two or three attempts to attach the data-recording VBOX antenna, and watching it slide off the roof panel, that we remembered the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C isn’t a regular car. We had to tape down the magnetic antenna, because every luscious crease and curve on this Italian road-rocket’s body is made of lightweight sheet molding compound.
 
Such advanced materials used to be limited to six-figure exotics, but the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C skates by with a fraction of the wallet damage and the same jaw-dropping looks. The 4C is sexy and arresting even while stationary, with a raw and untamed quality akin to the one mysterious base note in a seductive, high-class perfume.

 


Racy cockpit: The Alfa’s carbon-fiber tub is plainly visible in its cabin. At GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Michigan, the lightweight 4C proved to be a blast.
Like so few cars in the modern era, the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C demands your attention and focus all the time, rewarding the driver with a singularly visceral experience. Manage to shoehorn yourself over the exposed carbon-fiber doorsill and into the snug cockpit, and it’s readily apparent that all that separates your rump from the road are a few precious inches. If the go-kart driving position isn’t intimate enough, all it takes is a look in the rearview mirror to bear witness to the 4C’s 1.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine shimmying and shaking behind a small plexiglass plate as the turbo inhales with a thrilling whoosh before hurling out hellish rasps and pops that declare to the world: “No, grazie, I will not be going quietly.”
 
Of course, Alfa’s commitment to building an unapologetic, unfettered, unfiltered sports car comes with a caveat or two. “The 4C gleefully fails at most regular-car duties,” senior editor David Zenlea said. “It’s stiff, uncomfortable, loud, and it has a laughable excuse for an infotainment system. But who cares?”
 
Not us, that’s for sure, because the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is anything but ordinary. On the contrary, it is the Alfa’s abject disregard for mainstream comforts and convenience that makes it feel so special and exciting. The exposed-metal pedal box isn’t pretty and the pedals occasionally squeak, but they command direct responses from the engine and brakes, the latter of which are among the best we sampled all week. And what other car out there today comes from the factory with unassisted steering? Sure, it’s a pain to muscle the meaty helm during parking (a challenge made worse by the nonexistent visibility), but when the payoff is sensational steering feel and mind-blowing handling prowess on the street and the track, it’s a price we’ll gladly pay.
 
Driving the 4C takes real effort, but belt in and work hard, and you’re rewarded with riotous fun behind the wheel. It might be a toy — an imperfect one, at that — but the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is an All-Star we want to play with again and again.

 
Read about the other 2015 AUTOMOBILE All-Stars:

 
 

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Specifications

  • Base price: $55,195
  • As-tested price: $68,345
  • Engine: 1.7-liter turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/237 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 258 lb-ft @ 2,200-4,250 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • Layout: 2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine, RWD coupe
  • EPA mileage (city/highway/combined): 24/34/28 mpg


 
Click here to read about all the 2015 AUTOMOBILE All-Star awards.