Coming to America Alfa Romeo 4C

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Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Electric Cars

Coming to America: Alfa Romeo 4C

Apr 23, 2013

TURIN, ITALY — A well-known ex-chief designer for a major global automaker was on the flight from Paris Charles DeGaulle to Aeroporto Caselle, of the Northwestern Italian industrial town that put the T in Fiat. Was he consulting to Alfa Romeo? Would he share the trip to the hotel in a Fiat MPV driven veloce style, like all the automaker’s hired drivers, by a man hoping to step in if Ferrari needs a replacement for Felipe Massa?

Pretty boring, he says. There’s nothing memorable about the indigenous design of the world’s largest automotive market.

One thing’s for sure; China is no Italy.

Executives and the upper-middle class here may have long abandoned the local brands, as they have in most of Europe and North America, for Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi.

Alfa Romeo, fortified by its connection via Fiat with Chrysler, its upcoming Mazda joint-venture, and perhaps, most important, by Audi parent Volkswagen Group’s unwanted advances, is preparing to fill the gap between commodity cars and those German premium brands with a level of style and brio that should be as enticing to the right potential customers as any new luxury feature.

The Alfa Romeo 4C is Fiat/Chrysler’s reset button for the brand. Alfa makes no apologies for its polarizing design, and whether you like or hate the 4C’s design, you’ll be challenged not to think of it as … on wheels. No Ferrari or Lamborghini of recent vintage has managed to make function over form look quite like this.

Take the rear shoulder line that flows off the rear pillar and the backlight. Alessandro Maccolini, Alfa’s chief exterior designer, says it’s at that precise height to accommodate the rear vents that start behind the doors and direct air around the back for aerodynamics. After the shoulder line’s sharp crease, the fender gets curvy and voluptuous again, and the result is tumblehome that will make Bob Lutz jealous.

Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Electric Cars

The sideview mirrors, he says, are mounted at the right point on the doors to avoid interrupting that airflow to the rear intake, and even the door sheetmetal is rounded around the mirrors’ bases for optimal aerodynamics.

Creases in the 4C’s hood flow into the familiar triangular grille. The underbody has its own set of little wings designed for aerodynamics and downforce. The round taillamps recall Alfa’s gorgeous midengine 1967-71 33 Stradale, although the donor car is the MiTO, on which Alfa already uses the heritage cue.

That backlight, which covers the 1746-cc turbo four from the Giulietta (it’s called the 1750 Tbi in some markets) is another 33 Stradale heritage cue, one that’s more obvious when the rear lid is open, and one you won’t find on the MiTO.

The rear lid has a thin aluminum prop-rod rather than the gas-filled shocks you might expect, and Alfa says this helps keep the weight down. There is some trunk space back there, aft of the engine; probably enough for a roll-on or one-and-a-half.

This car is all about light weight. Dry weight is just 1973 pounds, the result of its carbon-fiber monocoque, all-aluminum engine, composite body panels, and lack of superfluous gadgetry. The 1750 Tbi has been tweaked to 240 brake horsepower (European), up five horses over the Giulietta’s engine, and 258 lb-ft, an extra 7 lf-ft.

Redline is 6500 rpm.

Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Electric Cars
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Electric Cars
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Electric Cars
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Electric Cars
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Electric Cars
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Electric Cars
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Electric Cars
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Electric Cars

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