The Alfa Romeo 4C is back for 2016.

It’s still so loud you’ll barely hear the all-new sound system. The ride is as harsh as ever. Its manual steering requires substantial arm strength at low speed. And you must bend and fold yourself to get into the cramped cabin.

But never mind the details. This is a story of one of the great sports cars of all time, a wonderful, astoundingly fun and raucous machine.

Oh yeah, it will take some time, effort and patience to make friends with the Alfa, as suggested above. But on corners and the open road, with its turbocharged engine hissing away just behind the driver’s seat, driving enthusiasts will discover it’s all worthwhile.

Alfa, the Italian carmaker that is now part of Fiat Chrysler, introduced the 4C last year after a nearly 20-year absence in the U.S. The major components return for 2016 but Alfa has added optional carbon fiber elements, leather seats and an improved Alpine sound system.


To the dismay of some, there is still no manual transmission available. But shifts are far faster with the six-speed, dual-clutch automated manual transmission – 130 milliseconds at full throttle, we’re told. And there are paddle shifters behind the flat-bottomed wheel.

The 4C is sure to turn heads with its flared front fenders, swept-back headlights and air scoops on the sides. By most accounts, this is one of the most stylish sports cars on the planet at any price.

Seated just inches off the ground, the road feel and steering feedback are much like a Formula car I once test-drove at the Pocono Raceway in upstate Pennsylvania.

Steering response is lightning-fast – it is entirely unassisted. Without power-assist, though, parking the little bugger and taking it through slow turns is a bear.

So the Alfa is not best suited for everyday driving (though combined mileage stands at an impressive 28 mpg), but it is eager and built for Sunday track days. Under the rear deck sits a 1.7-liter turbocharged engine that produces 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

Getting the Alfa to 60 mph takes just 4.2 seconds; top speed is rated at 160 mph. There is some turbo lag, but nothing you can’t live with. And the rear-wheeled Alfa has a four-mode drive selector so you can switch from natural to all-weather to track settings in a heartbeat.


The Alfa offers its biggest thrills on corners, which are taken nearly as flat as the straightaways. The 4C rides on bigger wheels in the rear – 19 inches there, 18 inches up front – for better grip and handling.

Helping keep things stable is a double-wishbone setup in the front and MacPherson struts in the rear. Stopping comes quickly and sharply with a Brembo brake package.

Climbing into the 4C coupe is a challenge. And the quarters are cramped. Limited shoulder room, no place to rest the arms, no glove box or other storage cubicles. No center console. Cargo space is a joke, too, at 3.7 cubic feet.

The cabin is actually a carbon fiber bucket, which is pretty cool since you can see stretches of carbon fiber everywhere you look. Interior features, not so cool. The instrument panel and dash are sparse. Bluetooth and USB port are all there is to brag about.

The Alfa comes in a two-passenger coupe or roadster called the Spider, which gets either a cloth or optional carbon fiber top. Two trims are available plus options like parking sensors, cruise control, bigger wheels and red-painted brake calipers.

The Alfa MSRP is $57,495; the Spider, $63,900.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.