Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, What a sports car was meant to be
The 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is an exciting two-seat, mid-engine sports car that offers great styling, spirited performance and outstanding handling characteristics.
THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Handling and performance of course
- What’s Worst: Getting in and out
- What’s Interesting: I can’t think of another car on the market that comes with manual steering
It’s loud, it’s cramped inside, getting in and out requires the flexibility of a gymnast and it only comes with manual steering.
But wow is it blast to drive!
I’m talking about the 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, an open-top, carbon fibre sports car, handcrafted at a special sub-section of the Maserati factory in Modena, Italy.
This is truly a vehicle that takes you back to the days when sports cars were sporty yet simple.
And while it has superb exterior looks with a “wow factor” that’s hard to beat, it’s not a sports car like, say, the Jaguar F-Type that has the luxury touches that many upper-crust drivers both appreciate and demand these days.
No, this is a go-kart on steroids that is aimed squarely at the driving enthusiasts amongst us.
The 4C Spider, and its sibling the 4C Coupe, are sports cars to the core.
They may very well be the least practical cars on the market today, but boy can they deliver fun for weekend runs into the country or for those who enjoy track days with their high-performance toys.
After an absence nearly 20 years, the Italian automaker Alfa Romeo is making a push back into the North American market with the 4C models and a handful of other vehicle offerings.
The dealer network is limited, however, with three in Ontario and a couple each in British Columbia and Quebec.
Our test vehicle, the 4C Spider is a transverse-mounted mid-engine two-seat roadster, powered by a turbocharged all-aluminum 1.75-litre inline four-cylinder engine, making 237 hp and 258 lb/ft of torque.
A six-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission delivers power to the rear wheels.
Those power numbers may seem relatively miniscule when compared with some of the supercars out there today that boast 600-700 hp, but it’s all about the weight with the 4C Spider that tips the scales at just 1,128 kg (2,487 lb).
Every component comes with weight and balance in mind. The latest in high-tech materials are used.
In fact, the monocoque is a single carbon-fibre body, while the front and rear frames are built with light weight aluminum and the outer body shell is Sheet Moulded Compound, said to be 20 per cent lighter but more stable than steel, and also corrosion resistant.
The Alfa Romeo legend began way back in 1910 and over the years the Italian automaker has made a name for itself on the racetrack, winning five world championships along with 17 European championships.
That racing heritage is evident in 4C Spider of today that will do the 0-100 km/h run in a spirited 4.1 seconds in race mode with a top speed of 258 km/h.
Those are pretty good numbers from an engine with only 237 hp, but that performance and the handling prowess of the 4C Spider are what the car is really all about.
It’s certainly not about comfort or practicality… in fact getting in and out is an art best left to a contortionist. To get in you have to step over an elevated doorsill, twist your body around and sort of fall into the seat, all the while trying to get your left leg bent enough to squeeze it through the door opening.
The seating position itself leaves you feeling like you’re sitting on the ground, or at least a go-kart seat.
From a practical standpoint, there is a small, and I mean small, trunk in behind the engine.
However, if you take the soft convertible roof off and place it in the trunk, that’s pretty well it as far as cargo space is concerned. Up front, the hood does not open, so there is no storage space there either.
But then when you punch the start button, listen to the engine gurgle and then roar to life, and hit the road, you quickly know what this car is all about.
Also Read: 2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder – Pure motoring
It’s all about the joy of driving a true performance car that is well-balanced thanks to the mid-engine layout.
You can drive in either automatic mode or use the steering wheel mounted paddles to shift manually.
The car has a rocker-switch on the centre console called Alfa DNA that allows the driver to select Dynamic, Neutral and All Weather driving modes, plus a fourth-level called Race that ups the performance quotient even more.
On the road, the car behaves like a sports car is meant to behave — in short, it’s quick, balanced and predictable. But be prepared to use those arm and shoulder muscles because of the absence of power steering.
Our tester was loaded with options, taking the as-tested price to $92,640 with features like Carbon Fibre Interior Trim Group ($2,000), Giallo Prototipo yellow paint ($1,500), 19 and 18-inch alloy spoke wheels ($1,800), cruise control and rear park assist ($1,000), a track package including race-tuned suspension ($2,300), bi-xenon headlights ($1,000), racing leather bucket seats $500) and other interesting items like yellow brake calipers ($300).
And although it’s lacking the luxury touches found in many of today’s roadsters, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is just the thing if you want to experience what a real sports car was meant to be.
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider 2016
BODY STYLE: Two-seat high performance roadster.
DRIVE METHOD: Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
ENGINE: 1.75-litre, direct injection turbocharged inline four-cylinder (237 hp, 256 lb/ft) with six-speed dry dual clutch transmission
FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium) 9.7/6.9L/100 km (29/41 mpg) city/highway
CARGO: 105 litres (3.7 cu ft)
PRICE: $78,495, as tested $92,640 including $2,495 destination charge.