Impractically Perfect, the Alfa Romeo 4C

by Michael Satterfield

The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is a car I wanted to drive since it was first introduced at the New York International Auto Show in 2014. With its carbon-fiber chassis, stunning good looks, and turbocharged Italian soundtrack ticks all the boxes, but with just a few hundred a year being sold in the US, getting my hands on one required calling in a favor. For the next few hours, it would be me, the 4C, and some backroads around Austin’s Lake Travis.

Getting in and out of the 4C requires a little practice, the ultra-wide sills from the carbon fiber monocoque and the low seating position means you must contort your body just right to get in and out. Once you learn the process it becomes a little more natural and it becomes much easier once you remove the roof, and I do mean remove the roof. Unlike most modern convertible sportscars the 4C Spider’s roof doesn’t disappear at the touch of a button, it's not a slick multipiece hardtop like the Mazda MX-5 RF or even a traditional soft-top like you find on the new Porsche 718 Spyder. No, Alfa decided to make a soft targa that has six latches and when stowed in the truck, takes up nearly all the 3.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Seeing as most people are buying a 4C Spider as a second, third, or even fourth car, I assume the top comes off and rarely goes back on.


Top off, I get behind the wheel for some canyon carving and start the engine, this car is equipped with the optional Akrapovic Dual Mode Center Mounted Exhaust which enhances what was already a great sounding car with the factory exhaust. I select the drive mode and take off along the closest thing Texas has to Costa Brava, Lime Creek Road. Echoing off the hillside the 4C sounds like a supercar, even though it has a diminutive 1.7-liter four-cylinder that only produces 237hp, and it just doesn’t feel quick, it is quick. It’s Formula 1 inspired carbon fiber chassis is stiff and this car with optional 235/35R19 rear tires has seemingly limitless grip.


It is still Italian, so the expected eccentricity becomes quickly apparent after just a few miles of driving. There is no storage space in the car save for a small glove box between the seats, and they also put small cell phone pockets by the seats. The unassisted steering is great in the canyons but heavy in parking situations, rearward visibility is terrible, and the car can feel very big on small country roads due to its wide stance. In traffic or on long straight stretches of highway the exhaust note becomes a mind-numbing drone. In the city the 4C Spider garners as much attention as any supercar, the exotic looks, the performance exhaust note, rarity make it a conversation starter in parking lots, gas stations, and long red lights.


This 2019 4C Spider is Giallo Prototipo Yellow, a $1,500 option and one of the prettiest and rarest colors offered on the 4C Spider. The special hue is not the only option on this car, the 4C I am driving as a lot of amazing options. Inside is trimmed with carbon fiber, microfiber, and leather. Luxuries like cruise control, rear backup sensors, and an Alpine audio system are also optional. Outside there is even more carbon fiber, Bi-Xenon headlamps, and color-matched brake calipers. Performance options, in addition to the Akrapovic exhaust, include the race-tuned suspension package and wider wheels and performance tires. They even threw in a red Alfa Romeo car cover which brings the total MSRP for this 4C Spider just over $85,000.


That price point means that the 4C occupies a unique space in the sports car world, it costs nearly three times more than a Fiat 124 Abarth, the only other sub 100K Italian convertible on sale today. But it is not significantly less expensive (with these options) than the Porsche 718 Spyder which offers 177 more horsepower, a more practical interior and top assembly, and slightly more cargo space for your weekend getaways. If it is a practical sports car you are looking for the Jaguar F-Type, Audi TT RS, or C8 Corvette all offer more space, power, and function than the 4C Spider for around the same money. But while all those cars are great, they aren’t nearly as special as the Alfa Romeo. The 4C Spider is wildly impractical, far too loud, and frustratingly eccentric, and that is precisely why I love it. While using it daily would drive you insane, it is the perfect car for a weekend blast to Fredericksburg, you’ll just need to ship your luggage to the hotel ahead of time.

2020 is the final model year of the 4C Spider, with no replacement on the horizon the 4C could be the last true Alfa Romeo sports car, at least for a while, and if I was going to put my money down on a sports car right now it would be the 4C Spider. The little Alfa offers all the exotic good looks, thrilling driving dynamics, and exclusivity of, say a Lamborghini Huracan, with a starting price that is $190,000 less.




Photos Courtesy of FCA

3 Comments

  1. goodbye? WHY!?!!?!?!?!?!

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  2. I owned one for two years. It was glorious. Probably the best car I will ever own.

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