An Antidote for the SUV
Alfa Romeo’s 4C Spider is a racecar with license plates.
Written byBrian Douglas
Photographed byBrian Douglas
Twenty years ago, I was driving Mercedes-Benz’s new SLK roadster and stopped next to a petite gal driving a big Suburban. It was a lovely day and she seemed to consider the incongruity of this big galoot in the cute roadster while she was driving a truck. Just last week, I encountered that same expression from a neighbor passing my vivacious Alfa Romeo 4C in her big SUV. If it makes ladies stuck in today’s trucks feel better, my sporty test vehicle can’t pick up the soccer team or the lawn furniture at Home Depot.
Twisty rural roads with little traffic are the perfect venue for the Alfa 4C.
Power vs. Performance
These days, many car enthusiasts obsess about engine horsepower and how fast a car can reach 60mph from rest. I regularly receive email and text messages from friends who cite the latest amazing horsepower figure from a production car along with its 0-to-60 romp. Our 4C can hold its own with more powerful sports rivals, like the Porsche Boxster GTS, in simple acceleration because the Alfa has less weight to push around.
Alfa Romeo constructed the 4C using the same techniques as building a racecar. The underlying tub, or framework, is carbon fiber, along with many body components. Steering is not power assisted, yet fast, with few turns from lock to lock. That’s a challenge for many potential buyers, but a rewarding treat for true enthusiast drivers who want to be connected with the road. And the firm suspension keeps both occupants further in touch with the pavement.
When turns arrive, the 4C’s light weight and race engineering feel like a blacksmith’s anvil was removed from each corner of a typical sports car. You can also experience this racetrack handling in a few GT-3 versions of production sports cars or a lightweight supercar like McLaren’s 720, but that’s a really big check to write.
In today’s automotive climate, where SUVs and trucks outsell sedans, convertibles, and coupes, even legacy sports car brands, including Lamborghini, have ventured into bigger rigs. But sports cars add style and verve to a car brand, and although Alfa Romeo creates what many consider the best handling and most sporty sedan and SUV, its legacy is sports racing. That history is evident the moment you slide into the low, snug cockpit and light the fuse.
I could write a list of quibbles about what “comfort and convenient” attributes were missing in the 4C, but that would miss the point. Just look at this car! Indeed, I received plenty of admiring glances from nearly everyone I encountered. And when I pushed the Alfa in a turn, it was no hesitation, just precision delivery and a big grin. That’s why you would consider owning a car like this.
The cockpit is driver focused with few contemporary distractions.
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