2017 Alfa Romeo 4C Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Alfa Romeo 4C was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 8.4

While the 2017 Alfa Romeo 4C won't serve you well as a daily driver, few cars at this price point perform so well on the track. There, it makes no compromises in performance. Drivers trade comfort once back on roads that are less forgiving. The 4C's communicative suspension quickly turns harsh on regular roads. Due to a lack of power steering, turning the wheel is difficult at low speeds. Acceleration is exhilarating, faster than some Porsche models.

  • "Performance is the primary mission of the 2017 Alfa Romeo 4C, especially equipped with the Track package and high-performance tires. As such, this 4C is at or near the front of the pack for acceleration, braking, steering and handling. Everyday drivability suffers for the same reasons, though." -- Edmunds
  • "With its small size and 237-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, you'd think the 2017 Alfa Romeo 4C would be outgunned by competitors like the BMW Z4, Porsche 718 Cayman and Chevrolet Corvette. You'd be wrong. While small, it's mighty, the powerful engine motivating the flyweight chassis as quickly as the Corvette, and with handling that will make you feel like a hero...if you're good." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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

The 4C comes with a 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission comes standard. It takes 4.1 seconds to go from zero to 60 mph in the 4C, and it has a top speed of 160 mph. Fuel economy is among the best in the luxury sports car class: 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.

At 2,465 pounds, the 4C doesn't have a lot of weight to pull around. Its small but mighty four-cylinder is more than up to the task, with track-ready acceleration. However, it suffers from some initial turbo lag. Engines from the likes of Porsche feel more refined. The transmission is very responsive. While there's no option for a manual gearbox, the 4C comes with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

  • "The only engine is a 1.7-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder mounted behind the passenger compartment. With 237 horsepower, it's actually out-powered by any number of family sedans, but they don't deliver power like this. Floor the throttle and hear the turbo spool up, and once past the short lag period, hang on as the 4C springs forward with extreme urgency. It's not the most refined drivetrain, but it sure is fun. Power is delivered through a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that can shift manually through paddles or like a regular automatic. In sportier modes, it will automatically downshift and match revs. It's really good" -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "… 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 (2016)
  • "Oh my God. This car is so freaking fast." -- Autoweek (2015)

Handling and Braking

The Alfa Romeo 4C's razor sharp handling can easily keep up with some much pricier sports cars. A lack of power steering equates to a feeling of connectedness with the road. However, when it's time to park, you're in for an arm workout because of the amount of force it takes to turn the wheel at low speeds. It also rides very poorly on the road. However, all this goes out the window once you get it on the track, where communicative steering and suspension are much needed.

  • "A Dynamic-mode stability control, lightweight body and chassis construction, mid-engine layout, sticky tires, and race-like steering and suspension provide uniquely dynamic handling qualities that few cars, even exotics, can match." -- Edmunds
  • "Yet, like a scalpel cutting vegetables, the 4C is sorely out of its element once you've left the racetrack. The suspension pounds over bumps, the engine screams constantly, the exhaust barks like a neighborhood dog, and at low speed that unassisted steering feels like pulling your arms out of tar." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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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