Alfa Romeo 4C and 4C Launch Edition
The Alfa Romeo 4C, whose prototype was shown to critical acclaim two years ago, will kick off with a limited Launch Edition, with 1,000 numbered cars to be produced (500 in North America, 400 in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, and 100 in the rest of the world).
The 4C uses a brand new all-aluminum gasoline engine; using a turbocharger and direct injection, the 1.75 liter four is rated at 240 horsepower. It provides a top speed of over 250 km/h and 0-62 mph in 4.5 seconds. The transmission is a dual-clutch automatic with shift paddles on the steering wheel, and a behavior selector with a race mode.
(The USA version: 237 horsepower, 258 lb-ft of torque. Composite-framed seats, thermoformed dashboard, 7-inch digital instrument cluster. The car is 157 inches long, with a claimed 160 mph top speed, 0-62 in “the mid-4 second range,” and lateral acceleration greater than 1.1 g. The whole car weighs just 2,465 lb, and debuted at $61,995 — or $75,995 for the Launch Edition.)
The Launch Edition has exclusive carbon fibre trim and a special Carrara White color (buyers can also specify red, which includes a black interior with red highlights). The Launch Edition has an inlaid badge beneath the paintwork, and has a carbon fiber aero kit with spoiler and door mirror covers, a dark rear aluminum diffuser, Bi-LED headlights with dark surrounds, and 18" (front) and 19" (rear) burnished alloy wheels. The 60,000 euro price translates to $78,000, but since it includes VAT, we expect the North American pricde to be lower.
4C ‘Launch Edition’ buyers can take part in an exclusive event in Italy, which also includes an Advanced Driving instruction session.
Designed by Alfa Romeo and produced in the Maserati plant in Modena, the new mid-engined rear-wheel drive coupé with two bucket seats will be become available this year, and will be the first Alfa Romeo in many years to be sold directly in the United States.
The 4C name refers to Alfa Romeo 8C and 6C cars in the 1930s and 1940s; the C stands for cylinders. The dashboard was designed to be simple but modern, using digital instruments and shifter controls on the steering wheel. Information is rendered through high impact graphics. The pedal unit and footboards for driver and passenger are all made of aluminum.
The compact dimensions make this two-seater unique among its competitors: 157 inches long, 79 inches wide, 46 inches high, with a wheelbase of 94 inches. The car achieves high aerodynamic efficiency levels, with a negative Cz which adds stability at higher speeds with aerodynamic downforce.
The 240 horsepower 1.8 liter engine not only includes direct injection and dual variable valve timing (not MultiAir), but also has a “revolutionary” scavenging control system to slash turbo lag. Torque is rated at 350 Nm (258 lb-ft), 80% of which is available from 1,700 rpm.
The dual dry clutch transmission is similar to that of the Giulietta and MiTo, but uses new software with a Launch Control function similar to the one used on SRT cars. Unique to Alfa Romeo is a “DNA selector” which provides four settings, Dynamic, Natural, All Weather, and Race. The digital instrument panel only shows information relevant to the chosen mode and sets the color to match: yellow for Race, red for Dynamic, grey for Natural and blue for All Weather.
Alfa Romeo 4C body and suspension
The 4C has a stiff, strong, but light structure; the chassis is a monocoque (unit-body) of carbon fibre with ‘pre-preg’ technology derived from Formula 1, which weighs only 65 kilograms, inside which a space is formed for the driver and passenger. The front and rear structures of the chassis and the roof reinforcements are made entirely of aluminium.
The car’s bodywork is made of low-density, high-strength composite. Dimensional stability is comparable to steel and better than aluminium. The seats have a mixed carbon fibre and fibreglass structure which guarantees high resistance to stresses and a low weight. The final result is a significant reduction in overall weight (the dry weight is just 1,973 lb) combined with high torsional stiffness and strength.
The Alfa Romeo 4C uses ‘superimposed wishbones’ at the front, a MacPherson-based system at the rear, with rear wheel drive; 40% of the weight is on the front axle and 60% is on the rear axle (in some press releases the company boasts a “near 50/50” weight distribution but this does not seem to be accurate). A complete suspension kit will be available with a specific calibration of the shock absorbers and rear anti-roll bar for maximum grip.
The braking system has four self-ventilating perforated discs, with Brembo four-piston aluminium calipers on the front axle. Front and rear tires have different diameters and widths for optimal performance (either 17" and 18" or 18" and 19"); optional, softer-mix tires develop even better grip at the cost of durability. There is no power steering, to save weight and to improve the feel; the steering load is not excessive, due to the low weight of the car.