The Alfa Romeo 4C Is The Ultimate Driver’s Car for the Fall Season
Or any season, really. Except, you know, winter.
ALFA ROMEO 4C SPIDER
WHAT THE HELL IS IT? A textbook sports car that embodies a Ferrari persona into a package that costs about one quarter the price.
WHO IS IT FOR? The 4C spider is ideal for a 30-ish enthusiast who has performance driving experience and who doesn't want fancy driving assistance or infotainment features that most of today's pseudo-sports cars offer. It's an exotic for the well-off, not to say rich. Think successful start-up owner executive who also happens to be a car guy.
WHERE DID WE TEST IT? To put the 4C Spider through the ringer, we explored some of our favorite roads in the Catskill region of Upstate New York.
THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE IS: It's loud, it's bright, it's beautiful.
THING THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO NOTICE, BUT YOU DO ANYWAY: Carbon fiber aside, almost all of the interior feels cheaper than a Fisher Price toy.
CAR IS GOOD AT: Being a sports car.
CAR IS BAD AT: Being comfortable and practical.
ON A SCALE FROM 1 (VERY POOR) TO 5 (EXCELLENT):
- PERFORMANCE: 4
- COMFORT: 3
- LUXURY: 3
- HAULING PEOPLE: 2
- HAULING STUFF: 1
- CURB APPEAL: 5
- “WOW” FACTOR: 5
- OVERALL: 4.3
WOULD YOU BUY IT? Pains me to say it, but ... probably not.
I loved the 4C. It's fun. It's beautiful. It's performance capabilities are staggeringly impressive. But I don't think I could justify buying one instead of a Lotus Evora.
Though both cars feel about equally as exotic and special, from my experience, the Evora is a better put-together car that's more usable, more comfortable, and even slightly more practical than the 4C. Also, it can be had with a manual transmission, which—though I won't fault the 4C's transmission—is a plus.
The Evora is not the baby Ferrari that the 4C most definitely is, but who cares?
If I had $75,000 to spare on a mid-engined sports car, I would pick up a used Evora S. And after a quick search on eBay Motors, that doesn't seem like it would be too hard to do. Hell, I'd probably have cash left over for some track tires and an exhaust.
Truly, it's a close call. The 4C is great, but for me, the Evora is more compelling.
DEEP THOUGHTS: I want to debunk a rumor about the 4C.
This little Italian sports car tends to get a lot of flack for lacking the ability to be optioned with a manual transmission. Before driving the car, I was skeptical of how pure of a driving experience I would be able to extract from the 4C without being able to row my own gears, but by the end of my time with the car, I was pleasantly surprised with just how capable of the gearbox was. I wasn't hell-bent on the car having a manual, and in some ways, I was rather pleased with having the paddles behind the steering wheel—as cheap and plastic-y as they felt.
The other thing with the 4C is that everything just feels so special. It really does feel a little Ferrari. Between the noises it makes, the mid-engined driving experience, and the way people look at you when you're navigating city streets, it feels every bit the exotic. And for the most part, those are things you just don't get from a Cayman.
And let's not forget this was the spider model. The open-top trim somehow makes it all so much more inviting. Not to mention with the fall's changing of the leaves, there's nothing like being able to look directly above you, watching nature happen from the comfort of a mid-engined sports car with a turbocharged inline-flour brapping in your ear. It's a fantastic sensation that seems to never get old.
The 4C Spider is an immensely enjoyable car, and just as capable as it looks. Though its interior might not be the closest thing to comfortable, I'd happily spend numerous hours behind the wheel. It's just so damn addicting.
- Price (as tested): $74,495
- Powertrain: 1.7-liter turbocharged inline-four, 237 horsepower, 258 lb-ft of torque; six-speed dual-clutch automatic; rear-wheel-drive.
- Fuel Economy: 24 city / 34 highway
- 0-60: 4.1 seconds
- Amount of exposed carbon fiber: A hell of a lot.