2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C was new.


Performance: 8.4

The 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C is an exceptional car when you're driving it for the thrills, however, it won't serve you well as a daily driver. Ride comfort wasn't a priority for Alfa Romeo's engineers, but what you give up in cushioning, you gain in agility. The stiff suspension, responsive steering, and ample grip let you keep your foot on the gas as you race around the track or any fast turn. Its engine and automated manual transmission supply plenty of power to the rear wheels for incredible acceleration.

  • "The 2016 Alfa Romeo is not for everyone. In fact, it's not for most people. Alfa tuned this car for all-out driving excitement, and frankly it's at its best on a racetrack, not commuting to the office." -- Edmunds
  • "As my first downtown stint behind the wheel proved, the 4C is not a car that will suit as a daily driver for anyone but the deeply masochistic. Yet driving it as intended is so magical - perhaps even improved thanks to the character of its most obvious flaws - that I think it deserves a rank among the very best sports cars one can buy today." -- Autoblog (2015)
  • "There's borderline supercar performance here for the price of a base Porsche Boxster, and that (plus the 4C's alluring Italian looks) should clinch plenty of sales among discerning buyers." -- Autotrader (2015)

Acceleration and Power

A turbocharged 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine making 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque propels the 2016 4C from zero to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, and up to a top speed of 160 mph. A six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission is standard. The 4C gets up to 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, which are slightly better numbers than four-cylinder rivals get.

You'll have no trouble pulling away from the line thanks to the 4C's low weight and refined powertrain. Though the engine isn't the strongest in the class, it's more than enough for the 4C's size and low weight. The automated manual transmission makes very quick shifts.

  • "… remember all that carbon fiber? That helps the 4C weigh in at an extremely light 2,500 pounds. It doesn't need gobs of power to sprint down the road or get your blood pressure up." -- Edmunds
  • "With no clutch pedal, the dual-clutch equipped 4C drives like a regular automatic but with exceptionally quick shifts and more direct throttle control. It's a fine transmission that helps us forgive the absence of a proper 3-pedal manual." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "The 4C is a relative rocket, and paired with the six-speed dual-clutch automatic, this engine launches the Alfa from zero-to-60 mph in around 4.5 seconds." -- Left Lane News (2015)

Handling and Braking

The rear-wheel drive 4C is incredibly agile, and thanks to its lightweight body and responsive steering, it can give the Porsche Cayman, considered a standard-bearer in terms of handling and overall driving experience, a run for its money. There is no power steering, so you can feel exactly what's happening where the wheels meet the road. On the downside, this means it's difficult to turn the wheel at lower speeds.

The 4C has incredible grip, letting you keep up the speed as you race through the curves, and when the time comes to slow down, you have strong Brembo brakes to bring the needle back to zero. You'll sacrifice ride comfort for the exceptional agility, though, so go for a thorough test drive to be sure you can tolerate the rough ride.

  • "The steering system is unassisted, so be prepared to wrestle with the wheel at speeds under 10 mph. But at speed it's an absolute treat, with nothing but a mechanical connection between you and the front tires." -- Edmunds
  • "Flying headlong on oceanside two-laners, the 4C scrubs off speed with exhilarating force and brushes curves aside like so many gnats. The powerful 325-hp Porsche Cayman S might be able to stay on the Alfa's pretty tail fairly effortlessly, but the Alfa is far more physical and responsive, as you'd expect in a smaller car that weighs 500 pounds less." -- Automobile Magazine (2015)
  • "I don't think the ride is bad enough to deter a performance driving enthusiast, but it was enough to end several of my passengers' love affairs with the car." -- Cars.com (2015)

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