After months of rumors and delays, Fiat unveiled the rear-wheel-drive Alfa Romeo 4C at the March 2013 Geneva Motor Show. The 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C will go on sale at U.S. Fiat dealerships late this year, according to the Chrysler Group. A small two-seater built around a carbon fiber tub, the lightweight 4C is about the same length as the Mazda MX-5 Miata, but nearly a foot wider.
First appearing as a concept car at the 2011 Geneva auto show, the production version of the 4C has changed very little. Design elements evoke Alfas of decades past, including the 33 Stradale, which upon its debut in 1968 was the world's most expensive road car (to the tune of $17,000). While some gush over the 4C's exotic looks, others snarl at its bug-eyes and long, V-shaped snout. The Italian delicacy will be produced at the Maserati plant in Modena.
The 4C name, which harkens back to prewar Alfas, stands for four-cylinder. The mid-mounted 1.75-liter four-cylinder engine is direct injected turbocharged. Alfa Romeo suggests it makes over 240 horsepower. Saying the 4C will weigh less than 1,875 pounds, Fiat officials are saying the car will have a power-to weight ratio of 8.8 pounds per horsepower. That bests the oft-praised, erstwhile Lotus Elise SC's 9.2 pounds per horse with its curb weight of 2,012 pounds and its supercharged, 218-hp Toyota engine. The base Mazda MX-5 Miata, meanwhile, gets a relatively uninspiring PTW ratio of 14.8 pounds with the soft top. Then again, the Miata is less than half the price. The Alfa Romeo 4C will be capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds and achieve a top speed of 155 miles per hour. The mid-mounted engine allows a weight distribution of 40 percent over the front wheels, 60 percent over the rear, specifications that suggest lively handling. The suspension uses double wishbone in front, McPherson strut in the rear.
A dry dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters will be the only option on the Alfa Romeo 4C, and will allow the driver to switch between different modes including Natural, Dynamic, All-Weather and Race.
We don't know much about the interior or standard features yet, but we do know the small cockpit will feature two bucket seats and exposed carbon fiber trim.
Fiat Group says the 4C will go on sale in the U.S. by the end of the year. Only 1,000 units will make it to America, and Fiat dealers will have to fiercely compete to get the 4C on their lots. Pricing hasn't been announced, but estimates in the U.K. put the car starting at £40,000, or about $62,000.