The Alfa Romeo 4C Concept was one of the few vehicles unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show that was still shrouded in mystery before the covers came off. Judging by these early images, it was certainly worth waiting for the surprise.

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Heavily inspired by arguably the prettiest car of the past decade – the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione – the 4C Concept is a small sports coupe that stands at just four metres in length.

The compact two-seater features the 1750cc four-cylinder turbocharged direct-injection petrol engine from the Giulietta QV, which produces 173kW of power and 340Nm of torque.

In the 4C Concept, the engine is mid-mounted like a supercar, and with the brand’s TCT twin-dry-clutch six-speed automatic transmission sending power to the rear wheels, Alfa says it is capable of sprinting from 0-100km/h in less than five seconds.

The concept’s top speed is in excess of 250km/h, yet the Italians say fuel consumption is “typical of a four-cylinder engine”.

Alfa Romeo says the key to the 4C Concept’s lightning performance is its ultra-lightweight construction. The entire body is crafted from carbon fibre, and the rear frame structure is made of aluminium. All up, weight is less than 850kg – lighter than the most stripped-out variant of the Lotus Elise.

The 4C Concept also promises to handle well too, with high quadrilateral suspension at the front and a MacPherson set-up at the rear for maximum agility and road holding.

We haven’t mentioned the look of the thing yet, but honestly, words struggle to do it justice. It looks like a compact version of the 8C Competizione, but with modern highlights that catapult it right into the sweet spot of today’s Italian sports car designs. It’s a truly stunning coupe that looks gorgeous from every angle we’ve seen so far.

Alfa Romeo says the 4C Concept represents the “true essence of a sports car” and meets the marque’s core product values: “performance, Italian style and technical excellence aimed at maximum driving pleasure in total safety”.

Pretty special, you’re thinking? We haven’t told you the best news yet.

Alfa Romeo confirmed at the Geneva Motor Show today that the 4C Concept is not simply an exercise in style created for the show.

A production version of the Alfa Romeo 4C will go on sale in 2012, and is set to lead the brand’s resurgence as its halo vehicle around the world.

We can’t wait, and we will update the story tomorrow with news of Alfa Romeo Australia’s plans for the vehicle. Stay tuned.

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