Alfa’s 4C Concept

Cars

When Alfa unveiled the 4C at the Geneva show early in 2011, there was a completely polarised reaction. Even the hardcore Alfisti weren’t unanimously supportive of the arrival of the little competitor to the Porsche Cayman.

Their appetite for a small, accessible and sporty two-seater Alfa in the grand tradition of the Duetto Spider had been wetted by the Pininfarina Duettotantta concept released in 2009, which many insiders were sure was a harbinger of a production model to come.

This was certainly not that.

This was something altogether different.

For many the 4C looked alien, removed from the grand Alfa tradition of producing charismatic, passionately conceived cars that bore clearly the imprint of the human hand. This cars looks seemed awkward, the fluid, windtunnel and CAD wrought lines aping its senior sibling the Otto-Chee and (whisper it) had something almost German about it.

As in all areas of automotive passion, aficionados are a tough bunch to please. Every time a new, superior 911 emerges from Zuffenhausen the cognoscenti produce glottal clicks and suck their teeth – until the opinion makers slice through the mire and the issue in question has been proclaimed classic.

And such, ultimately is the way of things. And we certainly think the 4C will experience a similar critical trajectory.

Funnily enough, we were amongst the nasayers when we saw the metallic cherry hues of 4C that was presented in Geneva. But on reflection, and seeing the ‘Fluid Metal’ rendition which currently sits on show at Frankfurt, we think the aesthetic problems were all to do with the paintjob and the press shots. Call us design queens, but when you look at the newly presented version, the audacity of the 4C’s fluid angles are laid clear to even the most critical eye.

And see that tricolor on the door mirrors. That is red, green and white, baby – not in any way black, red and gold…

Ultimately the 4C is indeed spiritual offspring of the Duetto Spider. Like the star of The Graduate, it’s small, stylish and (relatively) affordable at around £38,000.

You’d have to been blessed with the critical facilities of a rocking horse not to notice the all carbon-fibre body’s design relationship to the 8C – and also that of the incredibly carnal 33 Stradale.

Italian firm Dallara created an evolution of the composite tub that was used in KTM’s pocket rocket the X-Bow . In the 4C, though, they are combined with aluminium front and rear subframes.

All this hi-tech material helps keep the overall weight of the 4C down to around 850KG. That’s pretty light, and when married to a centre-rear mounted 250bhp version of the 1.75-litre turbo petrol engine found in the MiTo and the Giulietta, it’s sure to fly.

There’s also that twin clutch gearbox articulating the power to the rear wheels. The running gear, too, is evolved from the X-Bow’s 60/40 rear/front weight distribution setup. it’s gonna be a lively, fleet-footed beast alright.

The result, Alfa reckons, will mean a sub five second sprint to 60 with a top-end of around 155 – and that’s without the trad tweaks that will come with the planned Abarth version.

When it comes down to it, we reckon that there’s a lot of folk in the market for a Cayman-esque sportster who are going to want to buy into the otiose glamour of the Alfa brand.
20,000 of these on our roads by the end of 2012?

That’ll certainly make our streets and more interesting place….

CLICK TO ENLARGE