At first sight the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider looks like a childhood sports car dream come true, for under £60,000. So is it?
The short answer is yes, this is the most gorgeous car ever. Alfa Romeo designers have at last hit the nail on the head, scored a perfect ten and hit it out of the park. It makes you wonder what Alfa Romeo have been doing and why, with their prestigious history, they could not have come out with this much sooner. Alfa Romeo has some of the most dedicated fans in the world, who have stayed faithful throughout the years, and they can now hold their head high with justified pride.
The 4C design is based on the classic Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale, a beautiful example of Alfa Romeo style. A balance of perfect proportions, exemplified by the dramatic swoop of the bonnet — twin curved lines descending forwards to the Alfa Romeo triangle. The curves of the side panels with twin air intakes are magnificent and the large rear is a symphony of circular shapes and lines. These swoops, sweeps and contours of the body fuse organic and mechanical form par excellence.
It handles like a racing car, the chassis is rigid and holds in every turn, bringing the race track to every drive. The bucket seats are remarkably comfortable and genuinely supportive even over long distances. It has a 4 cylinder 1750 cc turbocharged engine, vented disc brakes, Pirelli P Zero tires and double wishbone suspension at the front and MacPherson struts at the rear. The engine boasts 240 BHP and does 0-62 in 4.5 seconds, which is no surprise when you learn it only weighs 960 Kg. It has a top speed of 160 mph and there is a way of getting it to accelerate even faster by pulling both the left and right gear paddles in race mode, with your left foot on the brake, to get the revs up first. It’s not all about size, it’s what you do with it, and the Alfa 4C does a lot with its 240 BHP.
The performance is thrilling and exciting, yet controllable. Dynamic mode is smooth and superbly responsive. The acceleration is immediate and you get a smooth response from the pedal all the way down as you push for more power, of which there is plenty. The sound as the turbo charge kicks in is awesome. The brakes are progressive which instills great confidence as it really will stop just when you need it to. The car is hand built in Modena’s Maserati plant and also boasts a carbon fibre monocell, just like McLaren, which provides great rigidity and superior safety for the passengers.
The design of the panel buttons is somewhat plasticky and along with the radio looks like something out of a Ford Cortina from the 70’s. The wing mirrors could be bigger, and it really needs a reversing camera as the rear of the car is larger than the front with very poor visibility through the rear window. The roof is fiddly and I would love to see an electric version that drops into the back of the car, as it’s easy to remove but annoying to put back. And it takes up boot space of which there is precious little, just enough for two very small overnight bags. I would love to use this car to tour in Europe so it needs twice the boot space currently available. On the other hand is it worth ruining the proportions? However the only real problem is the condensation, clearly this car was designed in Italy, where damp and poor visibility aren’t generally a problem, but in the UK both the front screen and the side windows fog up pretty badly when raining and Alfa need to solve this as it is a genuine drawback in a car at this price level.
However true love is all about great beauty paired with imperfections that produces something greater than the sum of its parts. This is a car you fall in love with, a car that you feel was meant for you and only you. Great passion demands a few little flaws to highlight a dazzling soul. This is without doubt the sexiest car in the world. I am aware that no one should ever really think of a car as sexy, let’s face it, metal, plastic and petrol should not replace millions of years of attractive biological evolution, yet this car feels sexy. It is soft and sleek to the touch, it purrs and roars, it moves with grace and power. It is somehow incredibly tactile and actually makes you think the word “sexy” as you drive it. I know I’m repeating the word “sexy” but drive it and you will immediately get what I mean. Trust the Italians to get that so right.
It is spacious inside yet low on the ground, so car feels safe and immediately fills you with confidence. The rear wheel drive is great for drifting and the steering puts you exactly where you want to go, it’s video game precise, almost as if real world physics did not apply. I took it up to The Devonshire Club one morning in rush hour traffic and it made even the most dreary journey through the City of London a joy, I would happily have commuted again the next day. Even Chelsea in full traffic was almost as exciting as a day on the track. Whilst photographing it outside the Devonshire Club for our fashion shoot, one banker stopped to admire the Spider and wondered if white vans and taxis were happy to let the car pull out on main roads, as he owned a Porsche and felt that it received no respect. He was quite right, almost every driver allowed me through, many stopping to admire the car. The Alfa Romeo engendered tremendous admiration from all walks of life and sped through traffic as if by divine right.
There is no power steering, and all the better for it. Slow reversing requires some strength, but once moving the steering is responsive and precise, there is no understeer and just enough over steer to make if fun when you want it. You do have to hold the wheel at all times, as it will suddenly jerk to the left or the right according to the slightest pothole or camber in the road, but you can see this coming as long as you keep an eye on the road surface ahead. Normally this would be tiring, but quite the reverse it makes driving fun again, you find yourself grinning from ear to ear constantly, even the most mundane journey is sheer bliss. I also took the 4C down to Calcot Manor in the Cotswolds, a three hour trip that just flew by too soon. As an aside, I parked right outside Calcot Manor on arrival and was then told in reception I would need to place my car in the car park, but once they saw it, they were very happy for me to leave it where it was!
Many will point out cars in a similar category such as the Porsche Boxster or the Jaguar F-Type that do more for the price tag, but they are not comparable. Yes, you can buy the Boxster for less, but the 4C Spider is sex on wheels, electrifying and stirring in ways they are not. After a good lunch at The Ivy in Cobham, we came out to discover a Ferrari Lusso parked next to our 4C, three times the price, and the Alfa more than held its own. I would pick this car over many that are much more expensive. Little things need improving but these could easily be solved and do not detract from this being the most fun car ever.
If you are an Alfa Romeo fan, and there are many passionate aficionados out there, this is the car to get. If you’re not, get this car and you soon will be. You can buy this car for £58,000, or￡300 a month. It is a supercar for the price of a mid range executive saloon car and it does 40 mpg. This really is the missing link in sports cars, a stunning sports Spider that does not demand you be uber wealthy to afford one. I’ve covered the top sports cars in the world, but this is the car that embodies the pleasure of driving, despite or maybe because of its imperfections. Its looks, design, stability and handling are pure luxury. Alfa Romeo, I now get why you have such ardent, well informed followers. It’s all about passion, thrills and aesthetics at a price that many can reach.
In conclusion, don’t worry about the niggling little flaws, this is a supercar that will bring immense driving satisfaction to anyone, turn heads and make every journey a delight. People will admire this car over far more expensive brands and for the serious car collector you will find yourself taking this out far more often than others in your garage, with far bigger badges.
Alfa Romeo, correct those little flaws and this should become a legendary classic. It is the most fun of any car I have ever driven. As you may have guessed by now, I absolutely adore this car, it has actually brought back a love of driving that has been crushed over the years due to boring journeys and utilitarian vehicles. If anything had a soul then this car would have one, add to that its complex flawed character, fun personality and huge sex appeal, it is enjoyment personified. That’s it, I am now an Alfa Romeo fan, clearly the mark of a connoisseur.
Find out more about the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider now: https://www.alfaromeo.co.uk/models/alfa-romeo-4C-spider