The Alfa Romeo 4C is the return to form that the Italian brand has so desperately needed. Below is a technical guide as to how the 4C works and what makes it the affordable supercar it claims to be.
Alfa Romeo says it set out to make the 4C an uncompromising supercar that was more accessible in terms of its price point. It required a power to weight ratio below 4kg per horsepower and acceleration from 0-100km/h in less than 5.0 seconds. Furthermore, it needed to be able to achieve lateral G force of 1.1 and brake G force of 1.25.
It measures 3989mm long, 1864mm wide and 1183mm high.
When it comes down to it, the Alfa Romeo 4C is all about that power to weight ratio, and it has sacrificed a great deal to keep its dry weight to just 895kg (without fluids). Even the rather odd looking headlights are there because they save 2kg over conventional ones.
It uses a carbon fibre monocoque chassis that is just 65kg in weight and is essentially hand-crafted (which is one of the reasons for its low production capacity of just 3500 units per year).
The carbonfibre chassis is unidirectional and there are no glue bonds or fixings used. The company uses a technology called Cocure to combine different parts with the carbon fibre structure, which requires no separate connections in the structure.
Overall, the 4C is 38 per cent aluminium, 23 per cent steel, 10 percent carbonfibre, seven percent SMC (Sheet Moulding Compound) and 12 percent other polymers.
The engine is a 1.75-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder that Alfa Romeo shares with the Guilietta QV. In the 4C, however, it is positioned at the back and helps bring the 4C's front:rear weight distribution to 60:40. It pumps out a healthy 176kW of power at 6000rpm and 350Nm of torque from 2100-4000rpm, which puts the 4C’s power to weight ratio at 3.85kg/hp.
It will accelerate from 0-100km/h (in Race mode with launch control engaged) in 4.5 seconds flat, though numerous tests have seen that figure as low as 4.2 seconds.
The engine uses two continuous VVT units, one for intake and one for exhaust valve train. The turbocharger uses a pulse converter exhaust manifold that helps increase the peak on the turbine and maximise the speed.
At full blast gear changes take just 130ms with the company’s six-speed dual-clutch transmission. There is no manual option available and Alfa says that’s because the 4C’s personality is better suited to an proper dual-clutch and given its focus on technology, the DCT was the better fit.
The front suspension uses coaxial springs with a double wishbone architecture. The shock absorbers are attached directly to the monocoque, which Alfa says is the stiffest point of the car.
The rear uses a MacPherson strut configuration which Alfa says is primarily for packaging and weight requirements (though we suspect cost is also a factor). The system use a triangular attachment point to better distribute force.
The Launch Edition and Track Edition models get 235/40/R18 wheels and tyres at the front and 235/35/R19’s on the back. The standard car is offered with 205/45/R17 at the front and 205/40/R18 at the rear. Pirelli provides P Zeros for the application.
Brakes are provided by Brembo and use a cast iron rotor and aluminium hub (to save weight) with four piston calipers.
The Alfa Romeo 4C will stop from 100km/h in 35 metres. The steering system is entirely mechanical with no electronic or hydraulic assistance whatsoever.
The rear makes do with a mechanical differential but no locked diff.
The Alfa Romeo DNA system allows for Dynamic, Neutral and All-weather modes which affects the car’s gearshift points and its electronic stability systems. In Race mode, it will allow for a full launch control procedure and removes all aids except ABS. It will, however, kick in and help you out if you get yourself into a complete spin.
The Alfa Romeo 4C arrives in Australia later this year. The Launch Edition model is expected to be priced between $100,000 to $120,000. The standard car will drop that by around $20,000, starting from around $80,000.
Read: Alfa Romeo 4C Review