It’s not one of those clickbait titles where the writer has never touched a 4C or a Dino. In fact, even if we didn’t test a Ferrari Dino yet, we drove an Alfa Romeo 4C the way we had to.
You have probably read or heard that Ferrari have thought about recreating a Dino. 1965’s Dino was a small, rather light, and powered by a V6 car. Its lines were insanely sensual… Modern Ferraris are pretty much the opposite (even if sometime they do have a decent design).
Disappointingly, the revival project of this automobile myth seems aborted in favor of a… SUV. Yes, times are changing… sales goals too. Intense sadness.
That’s where the Alfa Romeo 4C enters the scene!
Just like the Dino in its era, the 4C is a little UFO. Alfa Romeo is a brand with an incredible racing and GT history. Therefore, what’s more logical than choosing the Tipo 33 Stradale as an inspiration !
Clearly, there is a stylistic inspiration but that’s all. The cars are radically different. One is a racing prototype from the 60s and the other is a small modern sports car. So is it a small marketing trick?
Even if Alfa released the car in 2013, we still don’t know what happened in their minds when they decided to produce an ultra light and sporty barchetta to try to save the brand!
However, we kind of like the idea. We are always down for this kind of project, it’s a matter of principle.
The recipe is borrowed from our English friends who followed it for a long time in mass production:
– 1 chassis: as hard as a rock
– 1 steering: as heavy as a rock
– 1 light body: not like a rock
– 1 engine: small and strong like a rock
– 1 interior: as rough as a rock
– 1 reasonable price (Oh, it’s a fail)
Beyond that, Alfa Romeo’s designers are Italians. They have to do more, always more (we know this, our family is Italian). A incredible je ne sais quoi that makes an everyday pasta, a delicious dish. This is where it becomes magic.
Aboard the UFO
The 4C is a real delight. No luxury and comfort but a lot of fun to drive. You are really getting involved while driving this Italian machine. First impression, in the city you feel like a in Go Karting right in the middle of a monster trucks show.
Hands on the steering wheel, surprise, it is heavier than in any modern car that we drove recently. The reason behind that : the 4C has NO power steering. Seriously?
Indeed, what may seems like a no go when you’re sweating to park in the street becomes a real quality when you are on winding roads. The direction is really communicative and precise. The 4C gives you plenty of feedbacks and this is awesome.
The chassis and suspensions are firm but well balanced. Therefore, you will not feel like you being aboard a tree trunk at each junction of the road. Perhaps, you will even be fortunate enough to not have to deal with unpleasant remarks of a passenger who is used to travel in SUVs.
Unbelievable, our passenger fall asleep after only 45 minutes of the highway! At the national speed limits we almost did the same. It’s a proof of the 4C relative comfort despite the deafening roar of the 4 cylinders that covers the turbo sound at high rpm. Luckily, in France there are tolls (I’ve never thought I’ll say this) and with a 0 to 100 in 4.5 seconds tolls become a real coffee shot.
The double clutch automatic gearbox is excellent (as often on sports models). The shifters turn with the steering wheel, which is not the best in our opinion but it’s personal. The plastic used for the paddle shifters is really cheap and unpleasant to touch. It’s kind of a shame in a +65K€ car.
Also, where is the manual gearbox option? An F1 gearbox is nice to feel like a professional driver for 5 minutes but when you have nothing to prove and a 4-cyl engine, a traditional gearbox is where the fun resides! It would have increased the driving pleasure and would have made this small sport coupe even better.
From the pavement
This Edizione Speciale is featured with a racing suspension, carbon kit and an Akrapovic exhaust system… truly fantastic. If you want to be discret forget this car. During our test we heard several times the amazement of passersby: “But what is this car? “Oh look at the beautiful Ferrari! “Wow, I didn’t know that Alfa Romeo did that, bravo! “What’s that, a Lamborghini? A Ferrari? “.
The general line of the car is a big part of it but the sound of the 4C drives the nail. To summarize, we look like a young loan shark in a car less than 100K€.
In fact, anyone who doesn’t really like cars and sports driving would hate the 4C. Give us a chance to explain why.
At first sight, we have to admit, it’s pleasant to the eyes, especially for posers. However aboard, the absence of any equipment (except an old 1997 Alpine radio), of any storage (except a glove compartment ridiculously small), the huge carbon chassis (to straddle every time you get inside), the reduced visibility (except on the majestic air intake), the absence of any sound insulation between the cockpit and the engine compartment (which distills a stereo sound directly from the block) and the height of the bumpers (rubbing on each speed bump), and other charming inconvenience will push them back quickly.
Also, we must conceal that the chassis is excellent and therefore it could get some extra horsepowers. Even if, on paper it’s as fast as a Ferrari F430 (only 0.5 seconds between the two from 0 to 100 km/h).
From the outside
When you approach a 4C for the first time, it’s very impressive. The car is very low and muscular. Indeed, it’s 3.3 cm lower than a Ferrari 488 GTB. But the most stunning part of this all-carbon body is probably the giant side air intake that cools a small 1750cc all-aluminum 4-cylinder in the purest Alfa Romeo tradition. Yes, that’s also a good news, Alfa Romeo has stopped subcontracting organs as important as engines, thanks god.
When you take a closer look at the engine’s glass hood, you notice two things: it has been displayed to the millimeter and it is pretty inclined! Opening the hood, we understood why it is so cramped, a trunk is available behind the engine. 110L which after several minutes of road turn into a real oven.
Perfect to warm up your panini for Sunday picnic, it’s very (un)convenient! There we go, apart from the “big glove box” the trunk must be at the front as in almost all sports cars. Surprise, the front hood doesn’t open! Too bad, we will have to travel light.
4C is the new Dino
So why comparing the 4C to the Dino? At first glance, not much is comparable between them. And yet, like the Dino 246, the 4C is a light rear-engined barchetta with a strong sporty Italian culture. Additionally, the two cars are real game changer in the regular production.
The luckiest of us have seen more than five different 4Cs in their entire life. Produced since 2013, how to explain that we see more Ferrari 488 GTB/GTS when the Alfa Romeo is at least as produced?
We have often talked about it between ourselves, we have often debated to arrive to this totally personal reflection: the 4C is a useless car.
Yes you’re not misreading, it is useless, just like art is useless but still amazes millions of people every day without asking anything in return. In other words, it is a masterpiece. It has flaws, of course, but would you asked Michelangelo to change the Sistine Chapel sky color because it does not match with the benches? We accept it and we love it as it is, with all its faults.
For those of us who are petrolheads, it’s definitely a fun to drive car and a great mini supercar. For the other, it carries the wrong italian logo.
We will probably never get a new Dino so let’s enjoy the 4C.
Like its distant cousin, we hope that it will get better with age.
And the 4C descent will not sacrifice its roots to the whims of comfort.
Written by convinced Alfisti.
#FunToDrive score : 92/100
Nothing is perfect but this Alfa Romeo is close to perfection. Not because you can use and enjoy it every day but because it has all you can expect from a fun to drive little Italian sport car: a soul.
It’s now time for you to discover our “Alfa Romeo 4C” story at the top of our Instagram profile.
Even if you are not an Alfa fan, keep it #FunToDrive.